Having done some digging around, former English teacher Tom Whitby makes a “calculated guess” that only about 200-300,000 teachers are on Twitter—a relatively small number if you consider that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are roughly 4 million K-12 teachers in the U.S.
For Whitby, this amounts to a large-scale missed professional opportunity. In his experience, he says, teachers who are active on Twitter and other social-media outlets are better informed and quicker to assimilate new ideas than their less connected peers:
Having discussions about specific topics within education with educators can be very different depending on their amount of connectedness. Those actively connected educators seem to need less relevant background information in order to address a topic. Discussions with the unconnected educators often get bogged down in explanations and definitions before the discussion of the topic can even take place. BYOD and Flipping were connected topics months before they became mainstream. Being connected seems to support relevance because of the ongoing discussion being framed around education. These in-depth discussions may not be taking place the same way in the hallways, or faculty rooms of schools.
Thoughts? That’s a pretty strong generalization. Any non-Twitter-users care to rebut?
Update: Some responses from our own Twitter followers:
@EdWeekTeacher Yes, too few teachers on Twitter. Most at my school can’t imagine using it for professional purposes. #edtech #teaching
— Paul Barnwell (@MindfulStew) July 25, 2013
@MindfulStew @EdWeekTeacher so agree with you on this matter..I’ve grasped more info being on twitter this summer than my summer class!
— Rachel Gilbert (@rachlgil) July 25, 2013
@EdWeekTeacher I agree!! We all need to share our ideas with each other. Twitter makes it very easy to do.#EdChat #edtech #teaching
— Brittney Pulcini (@bpulcini08) July 25, 2013
@EdWeekTeacher definitely too few tweeting teachers - delivering some CPD on this at the start of next term #Education #Teaching #EdTech
— Rich Pepperell (@mr_pepperell) July 25, 2013
@EdWeekTeacher Good lord, more teachers on Twitter? Social media huge risk for us. Bad plan.
— EdReal (@Ed_Realist) July 26, 2013
@EdWeekTeacher Not enough teachers on Twitter. Very few where I work. Share! Opine! Ask and/or reply! U don’t need a workshop to learn.
— David Bozetarnik (@dbozetarnik) July 26, 2013
@mr_b_history @EdWeekTeacher yes! I hope to be part of the change in showing the importance of using social media to benefit schools!
— Melissa Tuttle (@TeacherTuttle) July 26, 2013
@educationweek @EdWeekTeacher I think it would be easier to use Twitter as a teacher if it wasn’t blocked at most schools...
— JJ Epperson (@JJEpperson3) July 26, 2013
It’s how I keep on top of things but most teachers don’t think it’s worth their time. @educationweek @edweekteacher
— Sergina Bach (@SerginaBach) July 25, 2013
@mr_b_history @HeinemannPub @educationweek @EdWeekTeacher Totally agree! I resisted until Feb. Now I think it’s an amazing resource!
— Kristin Hanna (@KristinHanna2) July 25, 2013
@MindfulStew @EdWeekTeacher I just got hired as an instructional technology resource teacher; one goal: get staff on Twitter!
— Renee Bogacz (@mrsbogacz) July 25, 2013
@educationweek If we’re taking attendance, I’m here! .@EdWeekTeacher: Are There Too Few Teachers on Twitter? //t.co/0kV5o4kPO1
— Brittany N. Beck (@brittanbeck) July 25, 2013
@educationweek @EdWeekTeacher You will find them all on Pinterest.
— MomPoster (@MPoster317) July 25, 2013
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.