Why Getting Twitter Matters in Higher Education

Attitudes, learning, and engagement

July 28, 2016
The 2016 AMOSSHE Annual Conference - Breaking Boundaries

Everyone who works in student affairs/services should at least make an attempt to "get" Twitter.

I know what you're thinking. Some of you are disagreeing with the premise of this post before you've even read it. I understand your skepticism. I understand your resistance. Some of you may be quite competent with Twitter. Some of you may think that social media (including Twitter) has no place in the work that you do. I get it.

Twitter is neither the beginning nor the end of social media. However, Twitter is a gateway into a wide array of digital engagement. Not being on Twitter is usually about a conscious act of unwillingness to learn something new and/or a fear of the unknown.

Twitter is a great place for peer-to-peer learning, networking, and leadership. You may not have much to say on Twitter, but if you truly enjoy learning opportunities sans geographical boundaries, then Twitter is a must.

Attitude is everything

Recently, I was sitting at a table with higher education administrators who are tasked with providing support for students. We started talking about Twitter as a conduit for student engagement. One administrator immediately stated that Twitter, "with it's 150 to 160 character [limit]" had no utility for connecting with students. While they had not ever used Twitter, they were certain that it wasn't for them. It was a fascinating professional opinion. Resistance to even learning how a particular social media worked coupled with a strong opinion about it's lack of value. Folks, attitude is everything. It's a choice to exist in a space of lifelong learning.

Don't fall in love with your tools

In March of 2007, I signed up for Twitter. Two years later, I started using the site on a regular basis. It takes a while to get "good" with Twitter. The site/app/channel has its quirks. However, the versatility of Twitter is its core strength. You can use Twitter as a "Swiss Army Knife" of communication.

Someday, I will probably stop using Twitter. Why? Well, most-likely, something new will come along that offers up the connection, community, news, engagement, etc. that fits the global context of "digital" as Twitter does now. I like Twitter, but I don't love Twitter. There will always be something else coming down the rode that offers up a solid amount of digital utility. However, at the moment, Twitter is that thing.

Learning new things is important

Not learning how Twitter works is a digital tea leaf that shows insight into your psyche. I know, that's deep. But, grant me this much, Twitter is an ecosystem that affords us myriad functions. Get Twitter today so that you can learn something else sometime in the future. Twitter is part of the scaffolding of digital functionality.

Digital capabilities / literacies are important. They are connected to employability, revolution, activism, teaching, learning, communication, engagement, etc. No one wins a medal for standing in a room and declaring their luddite capabilities. Take some time to explore Twitter. Sign up for an account. Google how to do this, that, and the other. Ask questions. Experience some beneficial dissonance.

Now that you've tried Twitter, actually given it a chance, followed, been followed, liked, retweeted, listened, engaged and used the site/app/channel for a little while, what do you think? Do you think that getting Twitter matters?


Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.


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