What does the Twitter map of Australia tell us?

Researchers have released an interesting map which charts the relationships between Australian Twitter users. The map aims to group and link tweets based on thematic clusters by showing the popularity of topics. Topics that appear in the middle of the map (such as books, television and news) are not only popular but also the users who tweet about these topics are closely linked to other topics. The topics that appear on the edges of the map (like the ‘Beliebers’, Adelaide or teens) are less connected to other themes.

Source: Financial Review

In the bottom right of the map the topics of Teaching, e-Learning and Schools appear. The relative isolation of these topics may actually indicate the strength of the community of Australian educators on Twitter. Educators are embracing Twitter as a professional learning tool and there is a thriving network of people sharing links and collaborating, using hashtags such as #vicpln. The close nature of this community may be indicated by the isolation of the group on the map. There is also a possibility that educators are more likely to have a professional and personal Twitter account which may also have pushed topics related to education to the edges of the map. But there is a danger that with such a strong community, educators could actually end up becoming part of the Eli Pariser’s ‘filter bubble’.

The strength of the education community on Twitter may also be a weakness. Can there be some way to push the topics of education and teaching further into the mainstream? Could Twitter become a tool for educators to show the innovation that is occurring within schools; a way to promote the work of educators and to gain even more respect from the community? Perhaps it is time for educators to begin beating their own drums a little more, building wider networks on social media and then sharing some of the work they do with people outside of the profession. Then education may take its rightful place in the centre of these conversations, rather than at the fringes.

 

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