Pre #bydo4l reflections on twitter, Trump and why I’m not leaving social media

I’m getting ready for the week long social media frenzy that is #BYOD4L (bring your own device for learning).  This is the 5th iteration of the open, online course and as it’s evolved, it’s becoming less about devices and more about general effective use of technology within in education.   As I’ve blogged about before, I really enjoy #byod4l and the effective way it brings people together to share practice. As Chris Jobling has done it’s a great way to reflect on how your own use of technology has evolved.

Sunday is one of the few days that I buy an actual newspaper.  I tend to consume most of my news online now.  Today I saw a couple of articles about digital detoxes, and people leaving social media. These were alongside articles about the President Elect of the USA, and of course you can’t talk about him without at least a passing reference to twitter.

I doubt that when Jack Dorsey and Noah Glass  were developing twitter, they never,  in their wildest dreams, imagined that there would come a point where their fledgling idea would become the main communication channel for a President of the United States.

The at times, bizarre and incoherent stream of consciousness from the President elect illustrates (imho)  the antithesis of everything I use twitter for. It’s  Broadcast Mode (with deliberate capitalisation), uncensored, offensive . . .   So whilst I’m not wanting in anyway to compare myself to or with “The Donald”,  his use of twitter does illustrate why many people are turning off the service.

A few years ago, when twitter was new and shiny and free from advertising and obvious megalomania, when I was explaining its use to people I often used to say “you can’t really understand it or see the point of it until you use it”.  Making and sustaining connections – and yes, I’ll admit in the beginning there was a bit of thrill  (or as the wonderful @ambrouk called in “vanalytics “) watching how many followers I seemed to be amassing.

BYOD4L is a clear illustration of the  power of twitter as an  an educational tool/technology.  It’s free and easy to use, (in the beginning) community driven by for example #hashtags, the conventions of RTs, @ messages, acknowledgements etc.

It allowed us to use SNA to understand our community engagement in ways we hadn’t been able to before (take a bow @mhawksey for inventing the wonderful Tags Explorer visualisation tool).  It allows us to save and share all kinds of “stuff”. I  am still amazed at how articulate (some)  people  can be in 140 characters.  It allows use to connect and sustain networks, which to me has been and still is the most powerful aspect of twitter for me.

Having been one of the early adopters, my use of twitter has settled from the first thrills of always checking, always sharing  to the realisation that twitter was for me mainly a work tool so I should step away from it after work, at the weekends etc.

I guess I’ve been quite lucky in that my use of twitter has always had a clear professional purpose. Once I started using it I easily started making connections and found a clear rationale for using it.  The personal benefits ( for example the Eurovision Song Contest is lifted to a whole other level via the twitter backchannel), have always been a bit of an add on.

I’ve never gone on twitter just to broadcast (though i do confess to a certain level of “shameless self promotion” through sharing links to my blog posts, presentations etc),  I don’t go on to fight with people or deliberately be offensive/aggressive/obtuse . I’ve had some great conversations. I’ve also been very fortunate in that I haven’t been trolled. I’ve only had a couple of abusive messages.  I am very aware of the bubble I exist in, and I am thankful for it.

So whilst I can see that many people now find the adverts, the aggression, the trolling, the broadcast (as opposed to engaged mode that I prefer) mode of delivery,  it still works for me. Today I had a lovely exchange of twitter with some colleagues (@carolak @sharonflynn, @catherinecronin) I would never have known, or benefited from the sharing of their work  without twitter.

I’m not giving that up just because “the Donald” is around. I won’t let him take that away from me.

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