Much has been said on blogs and tweets of late of the transformational power of Twitter. I share the view that it can be an invaluable tool. But we must be careful of expecting too much of it, or overplaying its importance.
There have been good movements to get more teachers on Twitter but the reality is that it’s never going to be widespread enough to have a truly transformational effect. Events like ResearchEd, valuable thought they may be, won’t make much a much of an impact on what happens in 99.9% of the classrooms across the country. We’d be foolish to think it can.
So, in effect, all the time the same few individuals argue about the same matters with increasing ire and certainty, the impact is virtually zero. Nothing is won or lost via Twitter, merely the same debates re-trodden.
What hope then for real change?
It won’t come about through re-posting blogs (even this one, although please feel free, of course), or even by small scale conferences. And it certainly won’t come from endless assaults on one another’s points of view.
The reality is that in some respects no amount of Twitter-quoted evidence will change how teachers teach, and very few will be won over by the on-going polemics and remonstrations that can be witnessed each day!
So what alternative?
Those who campaign (and I may be being generous in some cases here; some of the ‘campaigning’ comes across as little short of bullying) for greater applications of the things we “know” work, need to start working on forms of dissemination of accessible research that might actually start to have an impact more widely.
In some ways, it seems sad that Teachers’ TV and the GTCE came before their time, since the groundswell of activity on Twitter might just have been enough to achieve more in those formats.
What matters now, though, is not how many arguments can be won in endless threads, or how many blogs can be re-posted, but how the important matter of improving teaching can become a more widespread matter of debate and engagement.
Perhaps the TES has a role to play, maybe a new Teaching Council, perhaps some other form of which we are as yet unaware.
But you can be certain that Twitter is not the answer; it does little but raise a more significant question.