Why Teachers are Flocking to Twitter

Initial findings of our extensive research

Disadvantages of Twitter for Professional Development

Don’t get us wrong – everything is not all a bed of roses on Twitter, with plenty of thorns which the survey revealed. One teacher in the USA was concerned about the quantity of information which Twitter can throw out, “There can be too much information (even with hashtags). I feel like I’m always missing something good”. Other declarations of feeling intimidated or overwhelmed were shared, as well as fear of public comments, which can be taken out of context by paranoid school leaders. This was an issue to a few people who declared that this means of professional development was not acknowledged by their school leaders, who dismiss this learning as non-authentic.

“Establishing a PLN is vital,” a USA elementary teacher told us, “Teachers need to know which hashtags are best for them to follow”. There are tweeters who are prominent self-promoters, and this annoys as their comments can go unchecked and loaded with prejudices or stand-points which rally for an argument.

Even though it is 2014, a few declared their frustrations with school network firewalls, which deny access to Twitter whilst on site (although with greater 3G or 4G availability on internet enabled mobile devices, one does have to question the relevance of such firewalls).

Surveillance

Fed by paranoia, or due to issues of power and control, we asked teachers if they were aware that their interactions of Twitter are monitored by leaders at their school, or by administrators. Those who declared that their comments are being monitored by ‘leaders’ commented, “Things can easily be misinterpreted online”. Being aware of this Big Brother behaviour can stop some people truly engaging in conversations. One teacher told us, “I have a personal account with no reference to school and don’t follow school. However, retweeted a comical clip from an account with a rude word and the Head teacher came to speak to me about it. I agree that handle [Twitter username] isn’t great but clip was of footballer slipping. Fair? Right?” Worryingly, another respondent revealed, “I have been told (in a cryptic way) by SLT that they monitor all my social media accounts”! Is there a claim here of online stalking? Debates in this regard need to be openly developed at all levels.

Story concludes on next page…

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