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:
— Paul Barnwell (@MindfulStew) July 25, 2013
— Rachel Gilbert (@rachlgil) July 25, 2013
— Brittney Pulcini (@bpulcini08) July 25, 2013
— 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
— Melissa Tuttle (@TeacherTuttle) July 26, 2013
— JJ Epperson (@JJEpperson3) July 26, 2013
— Sergina Bach (@SerginaBach) July 25, 2013
— Kristin Hanna (@KristinHanna2) July 25, 2013
— Renee Bogacz (@mrsbogacz) July 25, 2013
— Brittany N. Beck (@brittanbeck) July 25, 2013
— MomPoster (@MPoster317) July 25, 2013
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.