Why do tech savvy teachers fear social networking, and tech-timid teachers embrace it?

April 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

Lately, I have been teaching a lot of teachers how to use Twitter, blogging, and social networking to create a self-guided, self-paced system for professional development.

I’ve been surprised by something:

Often, the teachers I think of as tech savvy are very apprehensive (fearful?) of learning about how to use social media productively.

On the other hand, the teachers I think of as tech timid are often excited to embrace these new tools. Not reckless, mind you. But open… and motivated to learn. One teacher in particular had a very clear idea of how she wanted to begin building her online persona/profile, and while she was fearful of what personal details she might share online, it was a healthy fear.

As it turns out, I am one of the former: I am an academic technologist. I work with new technologies in education for a living. But like the other tech savvy teachers with whom I have been working, I too was hesitant to embrace these tools.

I have kept myself intentionally off the online radar. Googling for “Jeremy Angoff” would yield practically nothing. Now, however, I am learning to control (to the best of my ability) what you see when you Google for me. My goal is to create an online persona that accurately presents my professional life, and so far I’m happy with how it is coming together.

Just as I limited my online presence for the past few years, I am now nurturing an appropriate online presence now. As I learn how to nurture my own online presence, I can also teach other how to do the same.

But why did it take me so long to warm up to social media? And why are other tech savvy folks like me still avoiding this medium?

Perhaps this is the case: We who are tech savvy considered adopting social tools like Twitter several years ago when they were primarily being used to post information of limited value like what we had for breakfast. We were turned off of it early, and therefore turned it off. We closed our eyes back then to the way social media is being used now.

Those who feared it at first – the tech timid – are just now seeing the huge impact Twitter and other new media are having across the word: political movements, natural disasters, fund raising… and perhaps the potential for professional development.

Could that be it? I’m sure I don’t know, but if you have any thoughts on this please write a comment or contact me on Twitter @mytakeonit. Maybe my selection size is too small.

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That’s just my take on it. The facts presented in my blog are correct to the best of my knowledge, and the opinions belong to those who state them. Don’t believe something I say? Look it up. Don’t like something I say? Let’s talk about it. Leave me a comment.

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§ 2 Responses to Why do tech savvy teachers fear social networking, and tech-timid teachers embrace it?

  • Steven says:

    Jeremy,

    Kate tipped me off to your blog so I decided to take a look at it today. I consider myself (and am considered by others) to be quite a tech savvy person. Yet, I stayed clear of social media until only about a year and a half ago. Even now, I am rarely on Facebook and I still don’t “get” the attraction of Twitter. I’m a Web 2.0 naysayer (the Internet is in its infancy and it is going through more rapid growth than a baby in her first year; there is no 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0). That said, there is one aspect of Facebook that I wholeheartedly embrace, and that is the solution it provides to the “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” problem (So many faces in and out of my life / Some will last, some will just be now and then / Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes / I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again). Facebook allows me to keep an “archive” of my little black book of important people from prior stages of my life. If I want to get in touch with my best friend from junior high school I can do so in a snap. Otherwise, I don’t waste much time with Facebook. The funny thing is, Facebook is just the current iteration of solutions to this problem. For a while, I thought that all I’d need was my AIM contacts. Now, the only person with whom I chat on AIM is your wife! It’s only a matter of time before Facebook becomes passe.

  • jangoff says:

    My friend Steve Laniel ( SteveReads.com ) makes an interesting point about social networking – I hope maybe he’ll put it here in his own words. He used to use Facebook, Twitter, etc… Eventually, though, the social distraction became too much and he dumped a lot of the social media baggage. He’s still on Facebook, but I think his argument is similar to yours: It’s great for keeping in touch with those friends with whom you might not have, traditionally. I solicited some friends on FaceBook for their take on the following question – I posed this question in reaction to how I have been using Twitter for professional development:

    “I have been absent from FB for quite some time because I have had trouble seeing the value in it. . . .Is there value in FB or should I not look back?”

    Their take on it:

    “For me FB is digital mail with family and friends. It fills a need to keep in touch without having to write 100 letters. I think having a decent blog/website and twitter might be more valuable from a professional standpoint. Facebook is a private party while twitter is a public event. You can get more personal and individual on FB while twitter feels like shouting during a stock exchange”
    -TC

    “It’s the yearly holiday update letter, but incremental.”
    -TG

    “Primarily, it’s where I look at pictures of friends’ babies, but I also see updates from bands I like, etc, so I am made aware of concert dates and promotions. My university uses it for emergency updates.”
    -CR

    “It just depends what kind of person you are. Before facebook, when I would wake up at night wondering “I wonder what so-and-so is up to these days?”, I would have to cyberstalk them or hope they sent something to the alumni magazine, or just be unfulfilled. With facebook, I can maintain a loose, ongoing connection with people that I personally find very enjoyable. You also have to understand that on any regular day, I might interact with 4 people for work or socially… so FB really helps me feel like part of the world.”
    -MS

    Twitter, on the the other hand, I am using as a tool for professional development, networking, etc… While Facebook is social, Twitter is professional. Two different tools, two different uses. I appreciate that. Like you, I didn’t “get” the attraction to Twitter until recently, and I think that’s because, if you will tolerate the metaphor, I was looking at it as a hammer when it’s really a piece of sandpaper. Two VERY different tools, and one just doesn’t replace the other.

    J

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