I have been watching PE Twitter recently with the jaundiced eye of a seven year user. (I don’t want this to become a “back in the day” rant, so I promise to watch my step). I still find enough joy in my stream to keep me hanging around, but I’ve noticed something happening that disturbs me. And it’s growing. To frame the issue, consider these questions.
How do you know what makes legitimate and sound Physical Education professional learning, based on referrals from Twitter? Where is the filter that screens out the dross and lets the quality through? Do we have a responsibility to rate and review social media promoted professional learning so that others may benefit from our successes or failures?
We are so often reminded by some that evidenced based practice is the holy grail for which we search in improving our practice, but how much of the professional learning and practice we see spruiked on social media (in particular Twitter) would stand the test of being evidence based, or valid, or reliable? I see Physical Education tweets selling Youtube channels starring “elites” of practice, with no credentials offered that they are. What are “elites of practice” anyway? And who decided that they were elite? The same goes for websites, chats and “masterclasses” hosted by and starring “legends”, “doyens” and “experts”.
I’ll use a favourite pop culture reference that supplies me with teaching ideas – MasterChef Australia – to complement this view, and to also offer a potential solution.
When people cook on MasterChef Australia, they are judged and reviewed by a panel of experts in the field. These experts have runs on the board – they run successful restaurants or have worked in the the field of critique for many years and have a industry reputation.
When they review contestants, I contend that their evaluation and feedback is based on accepted practice, their expert assessment of quality and how well the contestant’s work met the brief that they gave at the beginning of the challenge. Objectives, expected outcomes, best practice, quality feedback. If you asked them to write a rule book for MasterChef Australia, I’m sure that would be the framework. Along with a bit of emotion wrangling for the cameras. Everyone that buys into the MasterChef Australia experience (competitors and viewers) accept that this is the way it is. It wouldn’t work without it. Although it can be seen to be subjective, the experts and their experience and reputation are the bedrock of the concept.
Not so on PE Twitter. I don’t see the review, judgement and feedback on what people put forward as quality professional learning, just because they say it is. Andy Vasily observed this too in a recent conversation we had
So, what’s the solution? I have toyed with a Physical Education membership website that allows the community to review, judge and give feedback on professional learning that they have experienced. I thought about designing it so it included members ratings, comments and recommendations Like anything that runs like a popular vote, it could be subject to distortion. I also had a brainsplosion about an international review team of Physical Education experts that could be charged with official endorsement of professional learning. But who would want to do that? And how would we assemble this Justice League of PE?
So I guess that puts it back on all of us to be responsible online professional learning consumers to call out the charlatans, the self aggrandisers and reward the quality evidence based practitioners and researchers that will ultimate improve our practice, not cheapen it. What do you think?