4 Reasons Why I Finally Said Yes to a Twitter Chat

Excitement and fear.

May 26, 2015
Are you planning on participating in the UPCEA #HigherEdAhead Twitter Chat today (Wednesday, 5/17) at 2:00pm EST?  The topic - Balancing the Urgency of Revenue Performance with Mission and Quality Online Imperatives: What's Ahead?
This will be my first Twitter Chat. I’ve been asked a bunch of times before, but up until now I’ve always said no. 
Don’t get me wrong. Twitter is great. Twitter is the world’s most powerful platform for building professional communities. Our higher ed conversation has largely moved to Twitter. Twitter has both benefited from and enabled the evolution of higher education into a networked ecosystem, one in which geography and place matters far less than relationships and trust. A tweet is connected to a person.  Ideas, in the form of tweets, find each other and amplify on the platform. Twitter has changed how our profession builds connections, how we run our conferences, and how navigate our professional development.
The thing is - I’m not really on Twitter.  Sure, I’ll read through my stream of tweets on a daily basis. And each day I’ll tweet out my latest blog post.
But I don’t participate in Twitter conversations. There is only so much energy and time any of us can put into the various professional platforms that are available to help us connect and make sense of the world - and for me there are just not enough hours in the day to fully engage in Twitter.  Besides, I’ve always been a bit suspicious of a platform that privileges the soundbite. I don’t really know what I am thinking until I write about what’s on my mind. 140 characters is too few for me to know what I think.
So why did I decide to take a break from my  conscientious objector stance on Twitter, and agree to participate in today’s Twitter Chat?
Reason #1 - Ray Schroeder Asked:  The truth is that I would probably do most anything if  Ray Schroeder asked me to do it.  Ray’s official title is Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning, Director, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield and the Director of the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy. Ray’s unofficial title is higher ed wise man.  If Ray had asked me to show up at his house on Wednesday to help him pack a UHaul van then I would have been blogging about the joys of self-moving.  
Reason #2 - The Topic Is Really Great: It was hard to say no to the chance to discuss with a bunch of smart people how we are all going to navigate the next 10 years of higher ed change. Framing the conversation in terms of the institutional challenges to innovate in the face of declining state funding and new credentialing models is much more interesting then just talking about technology.   
Reason #3 - The Other Folks on the Twitter Chat Are Great: I would have joined the Twitter Chat if it were just Ray and I talking. But in addition to Ray, and all of you, there are some amazing people who will be participating.  Katie Blot from Blackboard, Lee Rubenstein from edX, and Debbie Cavalier from the Berklee College of Music represent an incredibly knowledgeable and diverse group of folks.
Reason #4 - It Is Time I Did Something Out of My Comfort Zone: Maybe the best reason to do a Twitter Chat is that I don’t do Twitter Chats - and don’t really do Twitter. I’ve seemed to reach that point in my career when people are doing things with technology, social and professional and educational things, that I don’t do myself and probably don’t really understand.  I’m comfortable with my patterns and my grooves. Part of what makes me effective in my job as a director of digital learning initiatives is that I’m skeptical of most technologies.  I’d rather read a book than go online.  Rather talk to someone in person than invest in an online conversation. But this is also a limiting and narrow way of moving in the world.  It will be good to do something like a Twitter Chat where I’m a beginner on the platform. Where I don’t know what I’m doing.
When was the last time you tried something with technology for the first time?
What technologies and platforms do you think are terrific, that you are happy exist and that your colleagues are using, but that you choose not to utilize yourself?
What is your advice for doing a reasonable job in participating in my first Twitter Chat?


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