Education in times of global crisis: How private actors in Germany gain power through Twitter




education policy, digitalization, Twitter, social network analysis, COVID-19, Germany


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to enormous societal changes worldwide and touched many different areas of daily life. One of the most serious restrictions to contain the pandemic was the closure of schools and kindergartens. Particularly in countries with comparatively low levels of digitalization in schools, this situation opened up opportunities for private actors to gain importance and influence in the education sector. For this article, we draw on policy network approaches and network theory to analyze Twitter discussions around digital learning and homeschooling during the period of school closures in Germany due to the COVID-19 crisis. We use social network analysis to identify the actors involved and their influences in the issue-specific Twitter communication network. In recent years, Twitter has been increasingly used for exchanges on education policy content, mainly by political and civil society actors. Our study shows that with respect to digital learning and homeschooling, it was primarily individual experts and consultants as well as corporations which influenced the discourse. In particular, it appears that Twitter is used as a forum to promote corporations’ own products and platforms, including by globally operating corporations such as Microsoft and YouTube, while public actors remain barely visible.


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Author Biographies

Johannes Schuster, Leipzig University

Johannes Schuster is a research associate at Leipzig University in Germany. He holds a BA in educational science from the University of Jena and an MA in educational research from Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and inclusive education, the diffusion of innovation, analysis of Twitter data and social network analysis.

Nina Kolleck, Leipzig University

Nina Kolleck is professor of education policy and civic education at Leipzig University in Germany. Previously, she was professor at Freie Universität Berlin and at Aachen University and guest professor at University of California in Berkeley, at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Tel Aviv University. Her research interests include education policy, social network analysis, comparative and international education research, heterogeneity, sustainability, innovations, and educational reforms.




How to Cite

Schuster, J., & Kolleck, N. (2021). Education in times of global crisis: How private actors in Germany gain power through Twitter. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(August - December), 161.