Engaging Twitter On American History

For the last two years, dear ol’ Eduflack has committed much of his professional life to improving the teaching and learning of American history. This started by leading a national research initiative that highlighted the dire need to boost American history knowledge in the United States.

We found that fewer than four in 10 Americans could pass a basic history quiz based on questions from the practice exams for the U.S. citizenship test. We followed it up with a 50-State survey using the same questions, resulting in only one state out of the 50 (plus DC) scoring higher than 50 percent.

Such surveys occur all the time. Working with ASPR, we were able to generate hundreds of news stories across the nation to spotlight the issue. For months and months, newspapers, opinion columnists, radio hosts, and the like have reported on these findings and the need to dramatically improve how we teach U.S. history.

We know, though, that social media is king. In addition to working with the mainstream media, we invested major effort into using Twitter to share this information with those who needed it most. Through a twitter push, nearly half a million Americans took the survey as an online quiz. And millions of voices on Twitter have kept the conversation going, ensuring that this important discussion was not a “one-day” story.

The reaction from media, social media, and the public at large is one of reasons Eduflack has decided to launch a major national initiative to provide interesting, relevant American history video content, lesson plans, and professional development to current classroom teachers. This new effort will officially begin this summer.

But I am incredibly humbled to receive the 2020 Social Media Award for having the most engaged Twitter followers compared to other public engagement campaigns.

Thanks to all who helped make this possible, including Adam Shapiro, Stacey Finkel, Dorie Nolt, and Frances Hannah. The award itself is nice, but more importantly, it signifies how important an issue improving American history education is and how we can use social media, including YouTube, to begin to tackle it.

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