I like conversations, but am not always the first to come up to someone and start one. Twitter, and technology in general has empowered those like me to be more comfortable with doing this. There’s some level of comfort in knowing that there are a different set of rules that govern virtual communication. Twitter can be the late breaking news flash that you need, or it can be the casual conversation that you can jump in and out of as interests ebb and flow.
I’m finding that my interests in exploring how Twitter can be used in higher education, specifically as a communication piece with regards to recruitment and retention are shared by many higher education professionals and institutions. From presidents to student services officers, twitter is allowing education to be more accessible and perhaps transparent. What’s not surprising is the range in which people understand and use this tool. I’ve felt for years that institutions of higher education are paradoxical. They are sometimes thought leaders in the integration of technology with teaching and learning, but are also many times one of the last to get on board with technology because of whatever bureaucratic processes continue to prevent progress. As with any new technology, using Twitter will take some shepherding and championing. It needs a branding campaign specific to higher education. Twitter isn’t going to replace [anytime soon] our current modes of communication. We like our newsletters and emails too much. What Twitter will do is enhance the way we communicate, potentially allowing more into the conversation and creating new thought leaders in the field. With Twitter, your PhD isn’t as important as the information you’re able to clearly communicate in 140 characters. And I like this. Twitter and other social media platforms are flattening the hierarchies that have long suppressed innovative ways of thinking and doing, and I’m hopeful that current and upcoming higher education leaders [and followers] will see this as a way to enhance what we love to do.