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Monday, July 23, 2007

The Edublogosphere is being criticized for twittering

I get somewhat irritated when I read posts like this one: The Apocalypse is Nigh, Stager of Twitter, Flickr, and NECC which is based upon another article, Twittering While America Burns.

In His Apocalpyse Article, Matthew says:

For those who aren’t in the know [or don’t especially care], Twitter is a social networking service that combines features of text messaging and blogging; Flickr is for photo sharing. Countless blogs in my RSS reader gush over these fashionable darlings of “web 2.0″ daily while:

And those are the examples I thought of in the last seven seconds.

I don’t expect all educators to lend their manpower to all causes, especially when some are better suited than others to tackle a particular problem. I do, however, expect educators to behave like professionals and put their respective issues into proper perspective. Mr. Stager was quite right to call you out and I support his point in full.

To those who have spent their day “Twittering,” I’ll issue to you a hearty, “Grow up.” If I’m wrong about the value of Twitter, Flickr and others, let me know - I’m interested in hearing your case.

This is my response:

Yes, the edublogosphere is connecting via twitter, however, you will see that most of us use twitter to indeed share the most important things (while of course some share more inane things.)

The bottom line is that it is connecting us and while you may look at it and immediately jump in and criticize, if you look at the other things that those connecting through twitter are doing, you’ll see projects like that of Julie Lindsay and I which are included in Thomas Friedman’s upcoming update to the World is Flat on educational activism. We connected five classrooms in Bangladesh, Austria, Australia, China, and my classroom in Georgia USA to study the trends in IT and actually have a meaningful project.

Do I twitter, yes! But I also am working on a project, connecting with other teachers, and although I am a private school teacher, doing my very best to find a public school to connect with the kinds of global projects that need to happen in America’s typically ethnocentric education system.

My zeal is for effective meaningful, engaging education and sharing the best practices that I am using in my classroom which happens to be a technology classroom, I am however, working with english, math, and other classrooms.

I too am alarmed about many of the issues in education and am doing my part — but to single out what is happening with Twitter is again making educators who are often islands of excellence retreat and be disconnected.

Most teachers quit within the first three years because they feel isolated and alone and if twitter gives them a connection with others who are struggling through the system like them then bring it on.

I’m sorry that those who just take a cursory look seem to jump to conclusions and lump everyone together — if you look at most, there are very few who spend “all day” twittering — it is just not so.

In Twittering while America burns, Gary Stager says:

The education blogosphere is in overdrive this summer with discussions of edugaming, all things Web 2.0, Flickrs of NECC photos and abstract ruminations on school reform. The virtual aspects of schooling are well represented in these discussions. Far less represented are the actual problems that require immediate attention.

My response is this:

What you're seeing in the edublogosphere is not representative of the leadership in education, it is just not. Many of us are technology people so we write about technology. We've had many discussions on how more researchers, administrators, and policy makers involved in education need to move into the edublogosphere, but as of yet, with the exception of a few, they have not.

I think what you are seeing is more a reflection of the make up of the blogosphere than the fact that the edublogosphere doesn't care about these issues. I also think that the summer is not the best time to see meaningful debate as many people are taking time off.

To ask the edublogosphere to be all things to all people in education is not realistic because we do not as of yet have a well-represented mix of all layers of the educational system. In fact, you'll see that many state education teacher organizations (like Pennsylvania) have in fact come out and told their teachers that it is unethical to blog at all (which I think is preposterous.) Twitter and other tools are ways that facilitate connections between us and it may look a bit "silly" while many newcomers come on board, however, I will say that many of the most meaningful important things that I will use in my classroom have come through twitter. I am a classroom teacher and that is what I write about mostly because that is my area of interest.

Yes, I care about these issues that you talk about, however, they are not in my typical sphere of operation. To get more reflection on global topics, we need more educational policy makers involved in the edublogosphere but for now it is pretty much a homogeneous mix of those who actively use technology to engage students (which is a great use for it, although there is no easy fix for education.)
There are quite a few in the blogosphere that are talking about these articles, I'm wondering why there are not more comments?

I don't have a lot of time because teaching and working on projects takes so much of it, but the microblogging feature of twitter really helps me keep up. I care less about defending twitter per se as in reflecting that there are many of us edubloggers who do care and who are working diligently to do our part to help education as a whole.

No doubt we have so many issues to tackle in the education system in America. We all have to do our part, but to expect a person or blogger to be what they are not is not realistic. I think this is a call to get a more diverse representation of education blogging.

Your thoughts?

I would call each of us to:
  1. Respond as you see fit.
  2. Show that we do tackle meaningful, important issues in our sphere of expertise.
I am thankful to be a part of the edublogosphere, I was an island, alone and thinking of quitting teaching altogether because of my own frustration. I am connected, energized and better than ever and get e-mails daily from those I've helped and who in turn are passing it along to others. Connecting teachers is a great thing! I don't see anything wrong with that, don't let this stop you from connecting.

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