How Twitter Influences Policy Discourse

By: Gizbot Bureau

Twitter is playing an important role in helping ordinary citizens and advocacy groups gain greater influence than so-called authority figures who would have dominated policy decisions till a decade ago, a new study reveals.

The researchers based their study on the much debated Common Core State Standards. By democratising the flow of information and offering a rallying point for normally divergent groups, Twitter has played a key role in the crossover.

"The #commoncore project represents a new genre of research," said Jonathan Supovitz, one of the researchers, from the University of Pennsylvania.

How Twitter Influences Policy Discourse

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"We tried to make our research more interactive and accessible to a wider audience in order to hopefully spark a meaningful conversation about the findings," Supovitz added.

New research reveals that heated debate is actually a proxy war for broader disagreements about education policy and the very direction of the country.

The fight over the Standards -- according to researchers Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania), Alan J. Daly (University of California, San Diego), and Miguel del Fresno (Universidad Nacional de EducaciAn a Distancia in Madrid, Spain) -- is redefining how education policy is shaped, understood and implemented.

For their study, the researchers deeply examined how the Common Core debate played out on Twitter, a medium that intersects social media and mass media.

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They tracked and analysed around 190,00 tweets containing #commoncore, authored by about 53,000 distinct actors during a six-month time span from September 2013 to February 2014.

Some of the key people in this fight, they learn, don't necessarily make the most provocative statements, but retweet information, both factual and not, to a large and diverse collection of followers.

The most common arguments against the standards were not based on the standards themselves, but broader political issues, such as a perceived federal role in education - a post-Snowden belief that the standards are a gateway for accessing data on children.

The fear of business interests exploiting public education for private gain was also implicit.

Source: IANS

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