Monday, April 18, 2016

Twitter in Educator Professional Development

First, a short historical perspective on this survey. Back in 2011, while part of the EdTech Team that developed the Fish Bowl, I wrote a blog post on the same topic. Unfortunately, Posterous shut down and that particular blog post was lost in an internet blackhole. I do, however, roughly remember the data gathered, but not exactly. What I do clearly recall from 2011 is that I received about the same number of responses (30), but the percentage of educators who felt that Twitter was a part of their professional development (70% in 2011) and the percentage of educators who felt that Twitter was a useful tool for professional development (50% in 2011) have both jumped in 2016. Second, there is an obvious bias that should be mentioned up front. Bias: I sent this survey on Twitter, which automatically means people who use Twitter are going to respond more than anyone esle. I did also post it on Facebook to an educational group I'm part of (Apple Educators), on LinkedIn, and on Google+, so other nets were cast into the vast ocean of the internet, but Twitter users were clearly more likely to respond.

With those items out of the way, here are the results of the survey.
Question one: I use Twitter as part of my professional development. Of the 30 respondents, 93.4% chose Agree or Strongly Agree.

Question two: I find Twitter useful as a professional development tool. Of the 30 respondents, 93.3% chose Agree or Strongly Agree. Although this question is similar to the first one, there is a subtle difference between the two questions. Question one asks if it is used by the person in professional development and the second question asks if the person finds it useful. This points to the users not doing it because they are being told to use Twitter, but because they personally find it useful. This once again help us to understand that Twitter is a grassroots form of professional development that educators use and enjoy, as opposed to a mandated form of professional development.

Question three: The third question didn't exist on my original survey back in 2011, but I thought it would be good to begin to understand exactly what educators do with Twitter that makes them feel that Twitter helps and/or empowers them with their professional development. The results showed that most (96.7%) share links to content. 80% engage in discussions and following hashtags on topics of interest. 70% use Twitter as a tool to curate content and 43.3% answer surveys (thanks to those people). 13.3% engage in "other" activities. Next survey, I will begin to catalog what "other" activities educators do on Twitter.