Education in times of global crisis: How private actors in Germany gain power through Twitter
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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Copyright (c) 2021 Johannes Schuster
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License, whereby the author retains the copyright, and which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited, the changes to the work are identified, and the same license applies to the derivative work. Works prior to October 2019 will display a different license (CC-BY-NC-SA; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0)