I have been working within the education technology scene for a good six years which means I’ve seen pretty much everything. Twitter is an incredible place to be, but also a place where you’re likely to roll your eyes a few times. Here are a few things I don’t like about the trends in the edtech world.

  1. The Populars – in every school, there’s a popular clique and this scene isn’t any different. Do you know the people you just know by their Twitter handle? That’s them. They hang out in groups at various events, have fun and casual chats on Twitter and make you feel like you’ll never live up to their expectations or have the same impact. What you need to remember is that what you see on social media, is not what’s actually going on. People only post their best moments on Twitter – you’ll never see, “[FE lecturer] person stormed out during my training session”, “[popular product] didn’t work for me”, “[tech tool] isn’t actually ready for education”, or “This is all incredibly overwhelming and I don’t know how to do [a thing]”.
  2. Awards that recognise the same people every year – every year there are new people joining the education sector doing incredible things. Despite this, the same people, schools, colleges and universities are recognised every year. It’s also always made incredibly public which is great, and I’m not suggesting to not celebrate those who are doing incredible things, but it can be both nauseating and demotivating for those who are doing things and not being recognised. The awards and national recognition are very good, especially ones that look at further education as we all know FE is very much ignored, but there are people out there, who aren’t on Twitter who deserve love and attention. It also doesn’t help that you can guess who will win before the shortlist is even announced…
  3. Buying new tech because everyone else is – Everyone will rush to buy the greatest new products, but that’s before they sit down with the students and ask them what they need to learn. What good is a VR headset that I can only get 5 programs, takes an hour to set up and only helps 30 students out of 1000? We wonder why further education especially is going broke, and it’s because people have lost the ability to connect and not rush to buy the next big thing. If you’re getting students to put up an answer to a maths question, a tablet with a whiteboard on it is great, but a whiteboard is just as effective — and while a tablet can save you time, what about when it dies? What about the rush and planning out time to get them out of the laptop trolley, unplug them, put them back in and make sure they’re plugged in? The tools we used to support our students are supposed to be time-effective and better in the long run, and if you don’t need something for your classroom, that is fine. Don’t buy something just because someone on Twitter with a lot of likes and retweets is talking about it, chances are, they’re getting paid. I don’t want anyone to think I’m against technology because I’m not, but I am against buying things for the sake of it and not checking in with teachers and students to make sure they actually need them.
  4. Having the awards… and then making them excessively expensive to attend – I was once shortlisted for an award I had to pay over £1k to attend… and then if I couldn’t pay it, I’d be removed from the shortlist. So I have to be made of money and have a ridiculous amount spare just to be in for a chance of winning an award? No, thanks.
  5. Social media is fake – I briefly mentioned it previously, but social media is fake. Everyone is showing off for their next big award, their next mention in an article or because they want to be a Big Name on Twitter. If you put in the right keywords and tag the right people, people will think you’re great – but in your institution, you’re just you. You were employed to do your job, not reach silly expectations for XYZ on Twitter. You can be great without trying to show off and focus on supporting your students, not randomers on Twitter who are only competing with you.

And there we have it. Five reasons I rarely check my Twitter anymore, and when I do, I’m reminded why I shouldn’t. My focus on supporting students and improving their experience doesn’t come from Twitter, awards or podcasts, but from talking to the individual students. There are some great people who have books, run awards, and all the like who I think are wonderful and I haven’t written this to offend anyone. One thing I love about Twitter and the community is the support given and received. I’ve won awards, been recognised nationally and promoted tools on Twitter, so I’m not going to sit here and judge. It just feels like, over the last six years, nothing has changed.