This post was written for EduTweetOz.org I’m reposting it here:
As the school year draws to a close, and with one more week of EduTweetOz before we take a break for the Christmas holidays, it seems timely to reflect a little on our journey this year.
EduTweetOz joined twitter on the 18th of April, 2013.
My involvement began when Sydney teacher, Michelle Hostrup, inspired by theIndigenousX rotation curation account and encouraged by IndigenousX founder, Luke Pearson, sent a message out to the twittersphere, asking if anyone would be interested in having a rotation curation account for Australian educators. As a result of this tweet, we started chatting, along with Donelle Batty, Liz Sinnott. Soon after, we formed an admin team and EduTweetOz was born.
When we started the account, our intention was to provide a platform for teachers voices. We were tired of not hearing them in mainstream media discussions about education. We wanted to raise the profile of teachers, hear their stories and hopefully start sharing them with the broader community outside of teaching. We also wanted to show the diversity of roles within education across the various sectors, find out what was on teachers’ minds, and show case their work. Above all, we wanted to be a very positive platform to promote and share the work of Australian teachers.
But while this was our intention, EduTweetOz quickly grew beyond this, taking on a life and purpose of its own as followers embraced the account and took ownership of it.
That EduTweetOz had grown into something more first struck me when I attended an event for preservice teachers at Macquarie University. I was approached by one of the students there, who recognised me as an account administrator, and spoke to me in passionate terms about the importance of the account. He explained how it helped him connect with other educators, build a professional support and learning network and deepen his understanding of educational issues. It had become a hub to connect Australian educators with each other.
And then, in August 2013, we reached a milestone with 2000 followers. To celebrate, we decided to hold a tweetup (a meet up of twitter followers) in Sydney and encouraged other account followers to hold their own tweetups. This idea was embraced by teachers around Australia, and tweetups were held not only in Sydney, but in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra. The willingness of total strangers to organise and join events to celebrate our milestone amazed me, demonstrating just how much the community of followers value and feel ownership of the account.
In November, Betty Chau became our host, the same week that Christopher Pyne announced that he would not be honouring the Gonski funding agreement with the states. (He has subsequently reversed his position on this) Betty felt strongly about this issue and sent out several tweets on the topic, including starting a trending hashtag #reportPyne. One of the EduTweetOz followers wasn’t happy with her tweets, complaining that they were too political and that the account shouldn’t be used for that purpose. Immediately other members of the EduTweetOz community came to her defense, saying how much they had enjoyed her tweets, and that they felt they were appropriate. The debate and discussion around how the account should be used was heartwarming. It showed me how much people felt ownership and cared about the account.
And that’s been the most satisfying thing about this year’s journey with EduTweetOz. @EduTweetOz is more than another Twitter account, it’s become a community and is owned and shaped by all who participate in it.
To all of you who have participated in our community this year, either by tweeting for us, or joining in the conversations, I thank you.