Since the OT Summit in BC wrapped up a few days ago I’ve been trying to synthesize some of what I have learned there into my thesis. The intent if not the conversations. One of the things that struck me was what a great place that would have been to collect interviews–provided you could chase down people and make them sit with you for an hour.
At the same time, I’d been tracking the #opentextbooks hashtag prior to the summit and I was curious if that was a way to access different people speaking about open textbooks from the voices that are most commonly heard. If you’re familiar with open textbooks or open education the top three results will not surprise you:
The one person I was surprised not to see on the list was Ethan Senack, but when I checked I saw that he used #opentextbook or #textbookbroke a little more frequently.
After the OT Summit, it’s not likely that the top tweeters would have changed much (they’ve been the same for a month) except that an article on Open Textbooks from CNN took over.
— David Ernst (@dernst) April 24, 2014
— Clint Lalonde (@clintlalonde) April 24, 2014
Which actually demonstrates the common trend of tweet and retweet that happens on this hashtag. It also means that people are sharing their ideas from their own personal learning network out to larger groups. Compared to news-related tweets or causes that have more attention on Twitter, (see #notyourasiansidekick for an example) the #opentextbooks hashtag reaches a smaller amount of people. Reflecting on this while writing my thesis makes me think there are two possible reasons for this. The one is that open education has not yet saturated the mainstream, the other possibility occurred to me when I was reading through Clint Lalonde’s “The Twitter Experience” that demonstrated out of the seven participants he interviewed the majority of them did not have large numbers of people who did not identify as educators within their personal learning network. Additionally people may not be using the hashtag when talking about open textbooks, which makes tracking the data a little more challenging.
And, another way that the #opentextbooks hashtag is being used is in conjunction with conference tags like #OTsummit and #cnx2014 which shows that open textbooks are being presented or discussed fairly regularly at these events.
What does all of this show us? Honestly, I’m not really sure you could draw any solid conclusions outside of the continued popularity of a few people within open education, and the ability of a relatively small amount of people to create a pretty wide reach.