How do teachers use Twitter and what impact does using this social media tool have on teacher-autonomy and politics?
This is my second attempt at a literature review on teacher agency and technology; a theory of the opinions and habits that teachers form as a result of sharing ideas on social media. As part of my doctoral studies, I aim to also unpick the links between technology and its influence on politics in education as part of my research design…
In this literature review, my second ever attempt, I aim to interpret and synthesise published work on social media. My rationale for doing so is to build upon the previous body of work which aimed to highlight how teacher agency has been empowered (or not) through the use of social media.
Do tweeting teachers influence others and politics?
Taking this a step further, I would like to question if social media has provided every teacher with a sense of autonomy because they now have a voice in which to be heard, to share ideas and to learn from one another, regardless of the school in which they work, or the policymakers which hold them to account.
“Twitter revolution claims imply that Twitter constitutes a new public sphere of political communication that has emancipatory political potentials” (Fuchs 2014).
I have been blogging on and off for 20 years, with the most popular blog being TeacherToolkit, starting in 2007 and today, with over 2,000 blog posts reaching 11 million readers and exceeding 2 million words, it is still managed on a daily basis from my spare room. It is interesting how, having read the work of Fuchs, my own revolution from teacher to influencer is the result of my audience giving me a platform to share views which have resulted in some aspects of my work becoming political – and not necessarily the blog content itself.
In the full paper, some of the key questions I ask are:
- What is social media?
- Does social media reduce the information gap?
- Can anyone blog?
- How has Twitter changed since 2006?
- Do the middle class dominate social media?
- What is a public sphere?
- Is there a democratic ownership of social media?
- Public sphere
- Free speech
Do teachers influence politics?
If Twitter is dominated by the educated middle-class and excludes other groups, does this create a silo, where like-minded people, those with higher incomes and better education, those who are interested in politics, dominate social media channels?
As I delved deeper into Christian Fuchs’ research, I was particularly challenged by some of the research he had conducted and some of the examples and definitions he used. For example, technological fetish, determinism, cyber utopianism, the “middle-class bourgeois” who tweet opinions to one another; the notion that social media is a profit-orientated company and how this has influenced my thoughts in particular, as my own degree of influence has increased, and whether or not I believe it has any impact on education policy at a government level.
You can read the full paper on Research Gate.
Twitter has proved to be a fabulous place for teachers to connect. It’s free, it offers free professional development and a platform for teachers, who broadly work by themselves, all day, every day, away from adults within an online community in which they can share problems and solutions.