A good friend and fellow professor, knowing that I like social media (probably too much) shared this article from the Weekly Standard, which decries Twitter for it's banality and how it is tugging down the britches of academia. It is a decidedly NON-Twitter-length piece (very lengthy!) but it's worth reading from beginning to end...assuming you can still handle reading long-form writing, which is one point addressed in the piece.
It's a really thoughtful piece--not just ranting--and it gave me pause about my Twitter use. I love Twitter for professional development...but now I'm wondering how much of it is really narcissistic ego-centrism? When I'm honest with myself, that's probably a part of it--it feels good to get something I write retweeted, or to have a conversation with someone I don't know outside of Twitter affirming my thinking about teaching and learning.
So I'm a little torn now, to be honest, because the next day, this video turned up in my Twitterfeed:
What do I do with that? I actually really like some of the suggestions here--they seem like great, personalized way to do some professional thinking over the summer and engage in conversations with people about your teaching practice.
But now I'm thinking more about this. I'm involved in three different Twitterchats on a semi-regular basis. That means up to three hours each week I'm sitting at my laptop or iPad, interacting with other people digitally...instead of interacting with people face-to-face. On the upside, that means I get to interact with thought-leaders in my field, like Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli) and Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins) and Dan Beerens (@DanBeerens) and George Couros (@gcouros) among others (If you're reading this, please don't be sad if I didn't call you out by name--it doesn't mean you aren't influential for my thinking!) On the downside...what am I giving up to do this professional development?
It's worth thinking about.
I'm realistic about this; I think that being engaged in social media is an important part of being an educator in the 21st Century, and learning to navigate a tech-infused, web-based environment is probably a good model for the life-long learning we want to promote for our students. Or at least, that's part of how I defend my Twittering. Maybe I'm just trying to justify it for myself, but I know that I'm likely to continue tweeting, and blogging, and interacting with fellow educators through Twitterchats.
But I'm going to try and be more self-aware of how I'm spending my time. I'm also going to be sure to keep up on long-form reading. I'm also going to write more "academic" things and seek to get them published in more traditional venues. I'm also going to ensure I make time to visit with colleagues face-to-face.
Maybe my inner battle between Twitter and traditional print doesn't have to be an either-or proposition.
Maybe it can be a both-and.