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State of the Union: Twittering Lawmakers


There's been a lot of debate about the role of personal technologies in schools, particularly cell phones and text devices. Schools generally try to prohibit students from phoning and texting when they are supposed to be listening in class.

So what kind of role models are these lawmakers who were Twittering during President Obama's State of the Union address?

Dana Milbank's columns in The Washington Post are always entertaining, and offer unique insights into the inner workings of Congress. Today's piece is a commentary on lawmakers' preoccupation with the 140-character messages they were sending to their "followers" on Twitter, questioning their attentiveness to the task at hand.

"It's bad enough that Americans are paralyzed by economic jitters. Now the president has to deal with lawmakers paralyzed by Twitter," Milbank writes. "At a time of national emergency, when America needs the focused attention of contemplative and reflective lawmakers, they are dispatching rapid-fire thoughts in 140 characters or less."

Teachers often have a similar take on their students' obsession with texting and talking with friends when they should be focused on a more critical concern: learning. Students will tell you they can do both, simultaneously.

I wonder if we gave those twittering lawmakers a quiz on last night's speech right after it ended if they would pass it.


My guess is the tweeters missed quite a few details. Maybe they figured they could fill them in later. I went to NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday in SecondLife last week and I found myself so interested in all the sidebar conversations going on there that I missed most of the interview content. It could be that our students' brains are wired in a new way, but for us old folks it is very hard to take and follow different information tracks at the same time. From now on I'll stick to the radio when I want to listen to Science Friday and use Second Life when I want to network.

Great article. Thought you might enjoy this...

Jason (EducationDynamics)


I had the President's address on as I was cooking dinner. I felt like I knew what was going on in Obama's speech, until the next day when discussions arose between friends. At that point, I realized just because I "heard" everything Obama said, did not mean that i caught all the details and understood every point. I am lucky to have Tivo, so I watched certain parts of his speech again the next day. I think its a joke that the lawmakers were "twittering" during his speech. They must of missed more of the details than I did. The difference is, its their job to pay attention to a speech like that. If I even look at my cell phone during an office meeting, I know I've missed something important. Its a shame that these lawmakers were busy promoting themselves, rather than listening to all the details.

Michael Davis
Program Coordinator

I wanted to add that I appreciated reading this article and I found it very interesting.

Michael Davis
Program Coordinator

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