There’s been a recent explosion of educators using social media and blogging. Twitter “gurus” travel from school to school, lining their pockets by “keynoting” that twitter and blogs will transport us to a “21st Century” education system. Many of these new teachers are “connecting” through social media but they have no real understanding of why.

Many educators in my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) tell me they tweet and blog to improve their teaching practice. Many educators now tout the online Edusphere as a way to “develop your brand” or “manage your digital footprint”.

But neither of these have anything to do with the reasons I originally “got on the Twitter” and started blogging. I do benefit in some of those ways, but they’re not the reason I started and they’re not why I persevere.

I’ve been a lover of science fiction for as long as I can remember. My favourite science fiction debate is a hypothetical time travel dilemma: “If you could time travel, would you go back and kill Hitler?”.

The heart of the question is really whether the people who do horrible things are, themselves, horrible or the products of their environments. Would killing Hitler stop The Holocaust, or would someone else simply take his place?

Most of us hope that if we lived in a historically important time, we’d able to make courageous decisions. We’d like to think we are more Oscar Schindler or the millions of others who made heroic choices at great personal cost, than embers of The Nazi Party. But would we be?

I’m confident that many of those living in the midst of historically defining events had no idea what the long-term consequences of their choices would be. It’s easy to look back with perfect hindsight and judge them, but I’m sure that if they’d known where things were headed, they’d have made different choices.

The interconnectedness of all things and the butterfly effect mean we have no idea what the consequences of our choices are. This may be a time of incredible historic significance, and we wouldn’t be aware of it. As educators we may be making decisions today, that will shape the future for generations to come.

Fortunately we have the tools to amplify our voice, to make our thoughts and opinions more impactful than ever before. We can, with a few keystrokes make what we believe available to billions.

It was this in mind that I started to blog and use social media. To use these digital tools to take a stand in a period of great historical significance. To stand up and be counted on the issues that matter most to me. I can’t go into the past and change what happened, but I can live in the present as if what I do matters.

And so I’m frustrated by educators who tweet but aren’t really sure why. These are the bystanders who let things happens, who don’t speak out when they have the chance. I’m saddened by those who blog as a way to build their personal brand. These are the profiteers who, rather that taking a stand and making a difference, instead choose to line their pockets and take care of themselves.

I encourage those who are just building a personal network to consider if that’s really enough. We have the power to really make a difference in things that matter. When you look back on this time will you be proud of the choices you made? Or will you regret that you didn’t do more?

That’s what I have in my mind when I write a blog or send a tweet (unless I’m fooling around). It’s my hope that when I look back I’ll be proud that I stood up and was heard on the things that mattered.

Why are you blogging and tweeting?