What’s next for educators after Twitter?

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Ahh Twitter. You have a place in my heart. But if you were on the platform this weekend and saw the #RIPTwitter hashtag trending, it has never been more apparent that Twitter is losing market share, eyeballs, and users.

Not only that, it’s losing educators. It’s losing conversations. It’s losing connections. And it’s losing almost everyone under the age of 22 (see this great article from an actual student about social networks).

I’m not saying that Twitter is a useless social platform for educators. Quite the opposite. It still remains the top place for teachers around the world to connect, share, communicate, and have conversations around teaching topics they care about. It still is the best place right now to join a global community of teachers and school leaders. And it is still the best place to start your journey as a connected educator and build your PLN (professional learning network).

The problem is that by all accounts, Twitter (as a platform) is slowly fading away. There is the mass exodus of executives at the company, the decision to remove share counts, the change from stars to hearts, the upcoming changes to the character count (140 to 10,000) and how we read Tweets on our timeline (possibly going to be an algorithm). All these changes (some of which might not be that bad) are coming after a year where Twitter didn’t add any new users from the United States.

I get why Twitter is doing this: They aren’t making enough money to be a sustainable platform. Their stock prices have plunged and people are leaving, or not signing up, or not being active at all-time highs.

Look at the Top Charts in the App Store:

top 5

Meanwhile, Twitter sits at #29 and dropping. Periscope is at #35. And Vine…nowhere to be found in the top 145 apps (it continues to fall). Periscope seems to be propping up Twitter for now and lots of educators are using it for some awesome live streaming connections. Vine, although used by a consistent crowd, never made it mainstream enough to be a platform that people would use to connect and share.

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I’ll continue using Twitter as a social and professional platform. I still love it and feel like the basic idea and functions behind Twitter are exactly what educators need to get and stay connected.

That being said, the writing is on the wall (for now) that Twitter is going the way of MySpace. Let me ask you a question about a Twitter:

Do your own kids or younger siblings/cousins/nephews/nieces use Twitter?

I don’t see any of my younger siblings (in their late 20s), my cousins (in late teens and early 20s), or most of the teenagers in our school using Twitter. The 13-26 crowd is not using this tool to connect, share, and communicate anymore.

I want to continue having these rich conversations and connections in the post-twitter future. Here is my take on the top contenders for educators in a post-twitter world (I hope it doesn’t come to that).

The Contenders for the “Post-Twitter” Educator Platform

1-0jFglWDnuFByABnZ1IY0Jw Google + 

Haha. Just kidding. Google+ is also a dying platform (sorry Googlers). All jokes aside, I still see Google+ as an active community for many teachers. However, it’s not an active community for many other people.

You can connect with me on Google+ here.

1-Q7Bip063EKCyQJ1mgS8z-QInstagram

Most think Instagram is the #1 contender. It seems to be where the most eyeballs are in the 22-35 crowd. Problem is that most people are still using Instagram for personal pictures and conversations (me included). It doesn’t have a function that could replace the “live chat” feel that Twitter has with hashtags, and is also missing the ability to link and share within comments and picture captions (only linking in the user’s profile). I see Instagram as an awesome platform…but I don’t think it will replace Twitter as the place educators share, talk, and learn.

It’s interesting to see how teachers like Kayla Delzer (@TopDogTeaching), Hope King (@elementaryshenanigans) and others are using the platform. I’m planning on using Instagram more for ClassroomCribs this next year, but keeping my eye on how this platform shifts (or doesn’t shift) to include conversations and connection.

For now, my Instagram account (@ajjuliani) is still locked and I use it mostly for personal sharing.

1-_DiEH1gakyUbeFQ_s8mjrQSnapchat

What??!!? Isn’t that just for taking bad selfies and quickly self-deleting pictures that I don’t anyone to see? Well, no not really. Remember when everyone thought Twitter was silly and only for sharing what you are eating for breakfast? Snapchat is on the cusp of a complete eyeball takeover.

Ages 13-26 use Snapchat more than any other social platform. I use Snapchat right now as much, or more than any other social platform. Although, my sharing is with my family, friends, and especially my younger siblings. Snapchat stories have taken over as a way to share what you are doing in real-time. If you aren’t on Snapchat and think it is “only for the kids” you might be missing out on a generational platform (think Facebook generation followed by the Snapchat generation). For now I’m going to keep using it for personal only, but I think it would be interesting to see big events like ISTE Conference or School Districts to use Snapchat stories.

You can check out my Snapchat at ajjuliani.

icon175x175Voxer

It’s official. Educators are flocking to Voxer. Problem is that although Voxer has plenty of open and public groups for teachers. It’s hard to have a conversation when too many people are in the group, and even harder to follow the conversation without spending all of your time listening to voxes that are minutes long… Still, Voxer is a perfect platform for Mastermind and small-group communication and collaboration. Voxer is non-existent on the Top Charts list, and none of my younger siblings or friends (that are non-educators) use it. I don’t necessarily see it going mainstream as Twitter, but Voxer is making a big push in replacing Twitter for many educators as John Spencer writes in this post.

I’m on Voxer at ajjuliani as well.

1-_5pYAhDFrWB0NZwW_bKccwFacebook

I’ve got to tell you, Facebook is probably the most capable of capturing the post-Twitter educator audience. Most educators are already on Facebook, and I’ve recently been back on with the new Future of Learning page and have seen tremendous engagement. The groups (both public and private) make a great place for connecting and collaborating around ideas and topics. The pages feature is also nice for schools and organizations (or conferences). I’m looking at Facebook to grab the audience if something new doesn’t evolve in the next couple of years.

I’m looking at Facebook to grab the audience (if it hasn’t already) if something new doesn’t evolve in the next couple of years. I’m loving the connections I’m making on my new Facebook page, “The Future of Learning” (check it out here).

icon256Slack

Slack is a messaging platform, but it is so much more than that. Slack’s public and private groups let you collaborate, share, communicate from a variety of places on the web. It’s one of the hottest (if no the hottest) startup in country and replacing email in organizations around the world.

One of the things I like most about Slack (we use it for the 2030schools.com UN Challenge) is the functionality keeps getting better and better and it is built for mobile communication. Check it out here.

Something New

Peach is the hot startup and messaging platform everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about. I downloaded it last week, but it’s mostly crickets from my crowd. Seems like a mashup between Twitter and What’s App (which by the way, I use What’s App daily to connect with my family and younger siblings).

Peach App

Then you’ve got favorites of the 13-24 crowd like YikYak which has real potential. As Andrew Watts writes in the article shared above:

YikYakYik Yak is a rather new contender, however, a ton of friends in college have the application. It has gotten to be so addicting because it focuses solely on the content of your posts—there are no followers, no profiles, nothing. Whatever is funny/relevant is at the top and everything else is at the bottom, whether Kanye West is the one who is writing it or some random kid who never talks in class.

YikYak could be perfect for conference goers or educators who are sharing based on a location (think Edcamp or a school in service day). Yet, I don’t see this getting traction because there is no public acknowledgment of who was sharing what, and adults tend to want some type of feedback on whether their post was good or not (think Retweets or Likes).

You have other options like Plague or Ello as well that are trying to make a push into the social market.

For content consumption and sharing there are some other big players:

1-uX1J3rx_Csubk3uKPCI9tQYoutube is still the most under-utilized platform for teachers and school leaders to share in my opinion. It is an enormous community (and second largest search engine in the world), yet many of us (like me) fail to put out content on this platform to share the work that we are doing in our schools.

I love what a few people are doing on Youtube like this and this, but most people aren’t engaging with it.

You can check out my page here.

Medi1-S9oOETtYyHkg6QJgzbzIggum is one of my favorite new blogging and content sharing platforms. Up and coming writers are all sharing their work on Medium where the most recommended posts get the most views. If you aren’t on Medium check it out.

I’ve started in the past year putting more of my posts and articles on Medium, but haven’t made a switch to posting regularly there. Instead I do find a lot of great content on Medium and it’s probably my favorite place to read new authors and writers.

You can check out my Medium page here.

1--o2bQkk8vwyJEcB7f0yz6QQuora is hidden to most teachers, but wow what a resource. This question and answer community is filled with expert level answers from people in every field around the world. Have your students look for and find mentors on this platform, and it can also give them a chance to share their expert advice/opinion/answer with a global audience.

I should also add Reddit to this list. However, it seems that Reddit is filled with sub-cultures and pockets of interest. Still, it is a great platform to find and share quality content.

I’m not going to predict anything right now. I’m not sure where all of this is heading. However, I am sure that the younger age groups of students and new teachers are not using Twitter. It still remains my favorite platform to connect teachers to each other, but it is slowly fading out of general public use.

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments (or share it out with someone who has an opinion)!

My next post is going to be an in-depth look at what teachers and parents need to know about Snapchat. Sign-up below to make sure you receive it.

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21 comments… add one

  • Its interesting that you wrote about this. I’m not a fan of the platform, generally speaking. I don’t find it easy to use, though I love participating in Twitter chats with my fellow educators. I use Tweetdeck, mostly, to utilize Twitter, as I find it easier to use and view. My husband found it ironic that I was using a different website to use Twitter. Maybe the changes Twitter is making will change my view, but I still prefer Facebook. I’m a member of at least six Facebook groups for various subgroups of teachers. They are extremely active and helpful, without the 140 character limit and the lightning-fast speed that requires you to be glued to your screen at a very rigid time.

    The other thing I prefer about Facebook is the privacy. I can be active in a personal way and professional way, without having to change accounts, but still have my personal information private. I think this piece is missing from Instagram. I use IG for my family and friends. I can see its potential for teaching, but I don’t want to go through the hassle of maintaining different accounts.

    Despite my students’ pleas, I’m not yet on Snapchat. But its what all the kids are doing!

    Overall, I still see Facebook as having the most potential for educators connecting. But, of course, I am most definitely part of Generation Facebook.

    Reply
    • Facebook is the front runner of the moment. But think about this: 10 years ago almost none of these platforms even existed. Heck, YouTube just had it’s 10 year anniversary. I truly believe the next 10 years will have even faster growth especially when it comes to platforms and networks.

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      • My issue with Facebook is that of almost all the apps you mention it is the one that school districts block the most. Yes, I could get it on my phone and a few other work arounds … but ease of access is important to me (and others I know). I want to get my social/PLN connection everywhere and if students can get it anywhere at school all the better. Twitter, Flickr, blogs, wikis are open in almost all the school districts I serve … Facebook is blocked in all. Doesn’t make Facebook unusable … just not convenient. :)

        Reply
  • I’m a new person on Twitter, but I joined mainly because of educational reasons and hearing about the connections between educators. Do you think that anyone would want to create a Twitteresque app, but geared to teachers? Twitter has shown that teachers want to be connected, but maybe teachers need their own social media platform to connect to each other.

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    • It’s interesting you bring this up Kaylyn. I’ve thought about how platforms that are growing like Edmodo might evolve into a larger sharing and connecting platform. I do think there would have to be a huge shift for someone to create a platform FOR TEACHERS instead of teachers joining an already pre-exisiting platform for everyone.

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  • The Times They are A Changing and will continue to change.
    I remember ICQ being one of the areas where I felt like I had the most like minded connections! And yes Twitter… I remember days when my PLN on TWITTER was the place where I found the best PD resources and as it began to be used more and more for marketing purposes than for conversations, it lost some of its allure.
    I still find the @username a great way to quickly find someone and reach out to them, or for someone to find you.
    And yes.. I have found myself using Facebook (which I use to use only for family and close friends) more and more professionally… slowly… (I kind of liked the fact that Facebook was my time with my family and friends)… but I don’t think it’s possible stay away from it professionally any more. I had great hope for G+, and still use it..though feel like there is a decline there too. I learned about a few new ones in your article that I have not yet explored. Thanks for thinking about this.

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    • Great points Lucie! Thanks for sharing. We’ve all got to continue thinking about it and talking about it. We’ve seen just how powerful connecting online can be through our PLNs (which Twitter had a huge part in shaping). I hope we don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal (connecting) as platforms and networks continue to change.

      Reply
  • Interesting question A. J.
    Interesting, and for me, a bit frightening since Twitter is in the “resident” quadrant of my personal learning environment. Twitter is “operation central” for my PLN communication. What if teachers and students come to dominate Twitter as a communication / collaboration tool? Would that be so terrible?
    Bob

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    • I don’t think that would be terrible at all Bob. But I also don’t think it would be sustainable on Twitter’s financial end.

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  • How about Slack? I think this could also get overwhelming the more people you have in a slack channel, but it is is a great communication tool. I think Reddit is great and perfect for conversations, but I could see it turning off some teachers with its look and feel. It can be overwhelming.

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    • Hey Matt, added Slack as I do see it as more of a messaging platform, but it could definitely be a player. Also, it is already changing how organizations and companies function (goodbye email!).

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  • Love the post, AJ. Here are my thoughts:

    It’s this kind of natural migration around technology that so frustrates many folks. I am thinking of the boat loads of people I have worked with around the power and potential of being connected. And, Twitter has always been the very best space for that to happen. It wasn’t always easy to convince these folks that this was a good idea. It took time, and effort, and stories of its value to convince them to take the leap.

    As someone who is comfortable with change, this potential migration to other platforms doesn’t necessarily bother me. But, it certainly will bother many of the people I referred to in the previous paragraph…those in the late majority. Those for whom it took so much time (and sometimes heartache) to join Twitter, make connections and reap those benefits.

    I worry that these kinds of changes are symptomatic of why consistent, powerful and purposeful technology integration hasn’t taken hold – because there’s always a move to something new. Platforms are always being created, going away, changing aesthetically, moving to paid versions, etc.

    Again, for me…no biggie. Heck, for many people reading this post (many of whom probably saw it on Twitter…) potential changes probably aren’t that big a deal. But for others, this is a big deal.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post, AJ. I do appreciate your insights, and this is certainly a conversation worth having.

    Reply
    • Great thoughts Devin. My big issue with teachers (and anyone in general) talking about how hard it is to keep up, is that it’s the world we live in. The market is changing faster than ever, and most of us don’t see it till it’s too late. Snapchat has been around for over 3 years…yet, it’s just starting to hit a mainstream market of adults (hit that for kids awhile ago). Think about how long it has taken people to join Twitter and Facebook.

      So we are left with a world changing incredibly fast and nothing we can really do about it except join the movement or complain that we liked it better when ____ was around/happening etc. Meanwhile, our students are living on Snapchat and Instagram, but our schools aren’t. Our kids are communicating through text and snaps and video…but we aren’t teaching through those means.

      Twitter will be around for a while, but then one day it won’t–and connecting (as you said) will still be as important as ever before. Maybe we’ve got to shift our focus to that connected mindset. I know I struggle just like you do in having these conversations every day with teachers, school leaders, and parents. Here’s hoping we can stil lead by example even in the midst of what is most likely going to be an everchanging landscape of social platforms.

      Reply
  • I heard that there is a new platform is in the works, a teacher community that is built specifically to host ed-chats and build connections through those chats (not “Participate”, which just runs on top of Twitter’s platform). Apparently, it would give greater functionality for chats, moderator features, easier to follow steam, etc. First, do you think people/moderators would take their chats off Twitter even if there were a better option? And, second, do you think that is the type of platform that could eventually evolve into the next “thing” for educators?

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    • Interesting Scott. I think it would have to be three things in order for it to be widely adopted:
      1. A really solid platform with no bugs when users first jump on it
      2. Fun – seriously
      3. Rewarding in some type of way. Twitter has grown mainly in the education through word of mouth because it is so rewarding for those educators that participate.

      Reply
  • How about Yammer?

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  • Anthony,
    I love this post. I must admit, Twitter has fallen off my radar. The major reason being it is not open for student access in our district. Last year, few of us teachers were experiencing success tweeting authors of books we were reading. Like Rainbow Rowell, AS King, Beth Kephart success – authors favoriting tweets, responding to tweets. We thought it would be such a great way to engage not only reluctant readers, but readers of all kinds. Kephart told me she felt the Twitter community is so much more genuine and that she was more likely to read a book excerpt from a fan via Twitter than any other social media site.

    So, we made a small push last year to #freetwitter, as a handful of educators were experiencing success connecting with authors, professionals in the field, and parents, but it wasn’t enough. Last I heard, there was reluctance surrounding opening the networking tool for our school.

    I heard Tony Sinanis or Jospeh Sanfelippo (can’t remember which one, but I remember how energetic he was!) present at a recent PAECT event about branding your school. In fact, they have a short book titled The Power of Branding, Telling your School’s Story, where they mention Twitter to be the vehicle for getting the good of the school out there. It makes complete sense…but unfortunately, we are not there yet…and may be too late?!

    I am overwhelmed by the amount of options out there for educators today, and I appreciate you sharing! I am going to start with ONE and go from there. Maybe we can catch up more soon…Looking forward to seeing you at RHS tomorrow morning!

    Reply
  • AJ Juliani is the Man!!

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  • Great read, thank you.

    Just thinking out loud here: I wonder if the lack of links in Instagram is a good thing? If we are of the mindset that links have added to the negatives of Twitter, then maybe Instagram is onto something?

    Also, you do not have Tumblr on your list. I’m on it, but I don’t really maintain it. However, I might go and have another look at it in the context of the demise of Twitter.

    Thanks for the insights: I have just downloaded Voxer and will be giving it a spin. Another app that I cam across recently (which is somewhat like Voxer) is Anchor. Worth a look, too. https://anchor.fm/

    Wayne

    Reply
    • Yes thanks for sharing. Been checking out Anchor and Musicaly as well…

      Reply
  • Blab is awesome!! Check it out blab.im

    Reply

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