An Open Letter to John King: Twitter and Its Uses

Dear Commissioner King; For a while now, I have been following your twitter profile.  I think it's good that you have a twitter profile.  Twitter is an amazing resource for educators.  I follow hundreds of educators; principals, teachers, the odd superintendent.  We talk about all sorts of things.  It's a great forum for discussing pedagogy, content, and all of the other bits of being a teacher.  And it is because twitter is such a great place to talk to teachers, that I am writing to you.  Because I don't think you understand how to actually use twitter.

Your profile is just a place where you broadcast what you are doing, or post news items related to NYSED.  It's the digital equivalent of a billboard:

This is useful, to a point, but it is only a tiny bit of what educators use twitter for.  I have never seen you post a tweet that engages anyone in an actual conversation about education.  This seems odd to me.  It's one thing if a politician or other public personality decides to use twitter to blast out self-promotional twaddle.  Really, it's expected.  But you are an educator.  And educators (at least the one's I'm most interested in listening to) use twitter to talk to other educators.  A quick search for your twitter handle seems to suggest that a lot of people are asking you questions, and you're not answering them.  If this keeps up much longer, people are going to start to think that you are avoiding them!

Well, that's it.  I hope your day running the state education department was a good one.   I'm sure you are very busy, but I thought I should take a moment and write to you about your tweeting.  If I was going to rate your current usage, I'd give you a "developing".  You've got the informational part down pretty solidly, but you don't seem willing to use the conversational side.  I hope you'll think a bit more about how you are using twitter to interact with those of us who teach in NY.  Try stopping by and having a conversation with us.  We'd love to talk to you (and everyone else at state ed, too!).  We have a lot of questions.

Very Truly Yours,