another social media experiment

Looks like Unit 4 has teamed up with the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation to host a series of twitter-based chats. The first one features the Future Facilities Process.

February 15 at 2:00pm, #AskUnit4

I don’t know much about the CC EDC, but I am curious what role they play in co-sponsoring a twitter chat with Unit4/DeJong-Richter. On the EDC’s “About Page“, I read the following as one of the “Primary Functions”:

Site Location/Expansion Assistance – Look to us for help in finding just the right spot to locate your new facility and/or for assistance in expanding your presence in Champaign County.

Hmm…. interesting.


6 Responses to “another social media experiment”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    More information:

    Champaign Schools Partner with Economic Development Corporation for Twitter Chat on Facilities Options
    February 4, 2013

    Champaign Unit 4 School District is partnering with the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation to implement a series of Twitter chats on various topics relevant to the school district and Champaign County.

    The first #AskUnit4 Twitter chat will take place on Friday, February 15, 2013 from 2-4 pm on Twitter. The first hour will be dedicated to questions about the Future Facilities Process ( where participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Participants will also be encouraged to also take an online questionnaire to offer their input on the District’s school facilities options. The second hour will be solely a Q&A opportunity for all those participating to ask questions to Champaign Unit 4.

    “We are excited to partner with the EDC on our first Twitter chat,” said Stephanie Stuart, Community Relations Coordinator for Champaign Unit 4. “Parents, students, and community members here in Champaign are talking about the things that matter most to them on Twitter. We hope this is the first of many opportunities to have an open dialogue with the community using this platform.”

    Stuart and Carly McCrory, Communications Director for the Champaign County EDC, will both moderate the chat and various representatives from the Unit 4 School District will be on hand to answer questions.

    All community members are invited to participate in the chat. To participate, log in to Twitter and search for hashtag #AskUnit4. To be included in the chat, the hashtag must be included in your tweets.

    Follow Unit 4 (@Unit4Schools) and the Champaign County EDC (@CHCEDC) on Twitter.

    If you have questions about the Twitter chat and/or would like more information, please contact:

    Stephanie Stuart at, 217-531-0252
    Carly McCrory at, 217-359-6261

    For more information on the Future Facilities Process, please visit:

    For More Information, Contact:
    Stephanie Stuart, Community Relations Coordinator
    (217) 351-3822

  2. pattsi Says:

    How scary–using twitter as a conversation means about such an important community issue and use of taxpayer dollars. By definition the twitter population is biased and skewed with the overlay of a specifically defined sub population. The result is more siloing of information, conversation, and potential of serendipity as ideas are exchanged. This is moving toward decision by the Delphi method. And next whatever results from these two hours will be folded into other gathered data points as if there might be validity and reliability.

  3. pattsi Says:

    Follow up post because I was challenged that this is just a means of getting opinion and what alternative would I suggest. Since I do not twitter, I have spent some time now reading about this social media and a few scholarly articles. First, a twitter can only be 140 characters. This does not enable a chat, a discussion, but enables a truncated question and an incomplete response, at best. Twitter is not designed for chat, for discussion, but for quick exchange of information, such as I am on fire call 911–please. In the scholarship publications, twitter might be useful for a short, quick reinforcement of information shared during a class. Not for a conversation on an important community decision.
    As to what alternative would yield a much better set of information/data, I have suggested this research format many times to no avail. I expect the reason why the following method has not been integrated has to do with the fact that it will take some effort. The processes that have been used throughout the many community issues are quick and dirty along with being skewed and bias. This can be countered by stratifying the community and then randomly choosing subjects that would be interviewed in person using elite interviewing techniques. We know statistically that we can gain representative data by using random selection. This selection “n” can be a number that is not difficult to attain. To implement this suggestion, it would be reasonable to work with the university by engaging students who would be trained in the methodology. A win-win situation–result useful non biased data, lower cost than consultants, and students who have learned a great deal about research methodology. But alas, twitter it is.

  4. Carly McCrory Says:

    Hello –

    Thanks for your interest in our announcement about the #AskUnit4 Twitter chat series (a new partnership with Champaign Unit 4 Schools)!

    Here’s a good follow-up article to our press release from The News-Gazette:

    As mentioned in the article, the purpose of this Twitter chat is to further engage those already using Twitter as a communication platform. There are many people in Champaign County already discussing such issues on Twitter that are relevant to the Future Facilities Process with Unit 4 Schools (among many other economic development related items).

    This chat is not meant to be the main source of information/feedback for Unit 4 Schools. It’s simply another outlet to gather feedback as Champaign Unit 4 has already held several meetings about the Future Facilities Process (more information can be found on their website:

    Education is a primary focus of the EDC and we are excited to partner with Champaign Unit 4 for this project.

    If you have any additional questions or would like to discuss further, please contact me.

    Carly McCrory, Communications Director
    Champaign County EDC


  5. Karen Says:

    Have to agree with Pattsi. Further, this will all get passed off as unprecendented outreach, even though no representative sample of the community was ever surveyed. It’s just so very basic that the only reason to ignore obtaining a representative sample would seem to be by design. Delphi, ‘consensus’ building, etc., in-step with the Steering Committee’s vision. This is no ‘oops’ we forgot step #1, to survey a representative sample. $100K could have gone a long way to that end . But, why go to the hassle when you can pass off methodologically unsound and unrepresentative ‘findings’ as the real deal. If someone in Education says so, it’s good. No proof required A lot of what is talked of as being ‘good for students’ often lack scientific proof. But, for some reason, when it comes to such an important thing as the Education of children, just believing something apparently makes it so.

  6. charlesdschultz Says:

    WICD weighs in:

    I am going to say that I very much appreciate the differences of opinion being expressed by those commenting here. I have a different perspective on this twitter chat thing. First, I believe it is not part of the $116+ K DeJong money at all (I could be wrong). I see this twitter thing simply as a social experiment (hence the topic of this thread) by the school district, and the future facilities just happens to be a relevant topic to launch on. More like just another avenue to try connecting with the outside world.

    As to the partnership with the EDC, I am thankful that Carly joined this conversation and provided some of her thoughts. To help Carly understand some of the negativity, it might be helpful to provide a little context, like how some of us are a tad upset with the corruption at many different levels in our state, and how money bleeds out of our pockets with little to no accountability. I personally have no experience with the EDC; I merely mention the context to help paint a picture of our mindset. We are concerned citizens and want to make sure that money is spent wisely, the “little guys” are taken care of and those that typically have no voice at the decision-making table now have a voice. Perhaps our goals align with those of the EDC. I for one will have to learn more.

    I talked to Dr. Wiegand tonight (at the Community Forum on Choice) about this new adventure, and she gave me the impression that she was excited about trying out something new. I did not get the impression, from either Stephanie nor Dr. Wiegand, that this was any type of supplemental “research”. It seems to me that both Pattsi and Karen are concerned that the Futures Facilities Steering Team (and by proxy, DeJong-Richter) will use the “data” gathered from this twitter chat to inform the decision makers. If that were indeed the case, I would also be quite upset. But I do not believe it is the case, however. Again, I could be wrong. Which is why I am asking questions and talking to folks like Stephanie and Dr. Wiegand and posting here and reading all the comments. I seek the truth. Perhaps I do it poorly, and I thank you in advance for correcting my course from time to time. 🙂

    Another thought about “conversational” tweets. I personally do not like communicating that way. That is simply my bias, my prejudice if you will. I participated in another social experiment called “Connected Citizens“; it was styled after a “game” where each person plays a “card” (coincidentally, limited to 140 characters), either starting a new thought or responding to someone else. I found it fascinating and simultaneously frustrating. Fascinating because thoughts are intentionally crafted – you don’t get any long-winded gasbag trying to espouse erudite eccentricities (like a blog). Frustrating because I found it exceptionally challenging to follow a thread from beginning to end. It was like popcorn thought; something was always going off and you couldn’t tell if it was new or old. Ironically, the Connected Citizen post-game discussion is continued on Twitter, so….

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