Saturday, 13 July 2013

The tweacher revolution?

I have written before about the discussion of 'Twitter as the best CPD ever' that occasionally surfaces in my twitterstream.  I find it very sad that the quality of CPD in some schools is so poor, that 140 character interactions are so transformational.

Having said that, I do like twitter a lot.  It makes my job of keeping up with Policy changes and government pronouncements much easier, and allows me to discuss the changes quickly with others who care about such things.

However, do I think that twitter and blogs have the power to change education, as Joe Kirby discusses in his blog 'How might social media help teachers improve education'?  I'm not so sure that I do.

The digital elite.
The vast majority of teachers and education professionals are not on twitter.  When I am running courses I often ask who is on twitter, and rarely will more than 5% of the course answer in the affirmative.  Last week I was working with over 50 NQTs.  Before the course started we thought that of all our courses, this would be the one where there was a high proportion of twitterers.

There wasn't.

Possibly about 10% owned up to being on twitter - but not the large proportion we were expecting.  They were not the social media generation we were expecting.

Those of us on twitter are the minority in education.  Most of the teachers and educators do not tweet, or blog.  In our little bubble world, it might feel like we are mighty, but sometimes I feel that we are in a hall of mirrors, listening to the echoes of ourselves.

The enthusiastic few
I would argue that, in teaching, there have always been an enthusiastic few who have been willing to try out new things, who read books, who went to meetings.  And now some of these are on twitter.

And it's great.  We can indeed write blogs that the Secretary of State reads (well, some of us can), we can find out about the latest trend (PBL, direct instruction, SOLO, educational myths and the like) and we can find people like us (or not like us if you choose to follow a wide range of people). Which is a good thing.

But . . .

Twitter and blogging is unlikely to cause system wide change.  The vast majority of teachers will be untouched by the ebb and flow of ideas on twitter.  They will continue to go to, and grump about, in-school CPD, they'll teach, and they'll be good at their job.  They'll complain about the new changes, and implement them well (or badly).

The system is so large and ponderous that having a small proportion of teachers (and others involved in education) on twitter will not change the system.