Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership
There’s a lot of hype around Twitter and PLNs. But is the learning real? Does it make a difference in how we do our jobs?
The Journal of Educational Administration has published my most recent paper about administrators and their uses of Twitter. Drawing upon interviews with administrators and analyses of their tweets, I found that although administrators were really exuberant about Twitter as a sort of “free professional development.” The business covered in their tweets was related to only a small sliver of things about which they might actually need to learn about in order to their jobs better. Figure 1 (below) shows the major tweet categories. In Technology was the most frequent topic. Even when tweets were related to the work of school leadership, these were often more about cheering each other on than about asking questions or sharing knowledge about the doing of the job. For example, how to have tough conversations, how to promote a shared vision, or encourage data use.
That said, I’m not necessarily against Twitter. Leadership is a lonely job. Feeling like you belong to a special club is a good thing. So is knowledge about technology or new lesson plan ideas. But we should be cautious about claiming that Twitter is a sort of professional development experience until further research is done. For example, this study was about typical administrators on Twitter, and not specifically about chat participants. That matters, because chats (e.g., #satchat) might push the boundaries around knowledge sharing by being targeted, provocative, and interactive.