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  • Microblogging technology is appealing due to its ease of use, spontaneity, immediacy
    and portability. A distinguishing factor of microblogging networks and applications is its ability to deliver data to interested users over a variety of channels. For example, Twitter
    messages can be received by users on their cell phone, through Facebook using a third
    party application, via email, as an RSS feed, or on their computer. With the proliferation
    of cell phones in the U.S., it is no wonder that microblogging has become so popular. It is
    interesting to note that 18 – 24 year olds make up the largest group in Twitter followed
    by the 25 – 34 year olds ("Media use statistics," 2008).
  • Twitter
    Twitter is the key player in space and the company name is used synonymously with micro-blogging. The free service allows users to post status updates via SMS, e-mail, or web browser. What's more, Twitter has an open platform allowing third party developers to build on top of it.
    Pownce recently launched a micro-blogging platform with added functionality. On top of messaging, users can quickly and easily share links, files, or events with any or all of his/her contacts. See our in-depth review of Pownce for more details.
    Tumblr is a very clean, slick micro-blogging platform. Its focus is on simplicity and elegance. Similar to Pownce, users can share a variety of things, including text, photos, quotes, links, chats, or even videos.
    Jaiku is considered by many to be Twitter's closest competitor. Most features and functions are similar. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to emerge from the shadow of its main rival.
    MySay is what it says. Instead of text updates, users call MySay and say how they are doing today. Then, friends or family can listen via phone, e-mail, or the web.
    Hictu is a service for video microbloggers. A webcam and a mouse-click are all that is needed to create a videopost. This streamlined solution saves time and effort for traditional vloggers.
    Moodmill is a way to express your mood or current state of being. A sliding scale facilitates this process, while a quick text update completes the personalized service.
    Frazr is also very similar to Twitter. The main difference is one of language. Frazr is focused primarily on the French and German markets.
    IRateMyDay allows you the ability to (yes, you guessed it) rate your day on a scale of 'Worst' to 'Great'. Users can also provide a short text update to accompany the rating.
    Emotionr is a way to gauge your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (decimals included). As the name touts, it is a way to express and share your emotions and feelings with those around you.
  • Others who vouch for twitter’s use in the classroom (but not empirical studies): See Alan Haskvitz, “Twitter in the Classroom,” Reach Every Child; and Kate Messner, “Making a Case for Twitter in the Classroom,” School Library Journal (December 1, 2009); National Education Association, “Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching?” NEA Today Magazine, (2009); and Laura Walker, “Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools,” Tech & Learning, (April 16, 2009).
  • Using language with classmates outside of contact time and being able to share info
  • 83% prof replying to tweets increased motivation
    83% wish French students would have tweeted more often
  • 82% agreed that info read from others contributed to a great sense of class community
  • Over 9 weeks, only 27 per person were required. Only one student did not achieve the requirement (LJW)
  • 13 weeks of tweeting, minimum of 39 per person required
  • French: more liked/loved it according to post survey than in the pre survey
  • In French: more affective b/c goal was to provide status updates, things going on in lives

    Cohesive low in both due to nature of tool? Since 140 limit -- not enough space to refer back to names
    In methods, focused more on the group building part of it as they were “all in it together”
  • Sense of community?
    For French, survey indicated that 83% prof replying to tweets increased motivation and 83% wish French students would have tweeted more often. The students in France did not turn out to be regular tweeters (with the exception of 2 French students) so community was built within the class in the US, rather than with the students in class. The survey indicated a really high appreciation for communicating outside of class and for sharing info, which contributed to building community among classmates in the US.
    Social presence?
    For French, affective higher b/c goals of project encouraged students to talk about their lives (therefore high Self Disclosure). Cohesive low probably because no room or need to use names (reply to someone directly), offer salutations, etc. Interactive close behind affective (replies to others – interaction; and asking questions)
    Class goals?
    For French, community was established within the US class but not as much between the two classes. Conversation was extended beyond the classroom and provided opportunities to practice language informally.
  • Twittersphere

    1. 1. Into the Twittersphere: Using microblogging technology to build community Gillian Lord ( Lara Lomicka (
    2. 2. Introduction: Discussion • How many of you use Twitter? • What are Twitter’s (or microblogging’s) potential advantages for use with classes?
    3. 3. Background - Microblogging • What is microblogging? – "a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user" ( • Popular microblogging tools:
    4. 4. Microblogging Tools
    5. 5. Background - Twitter • What is ? – A social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. – Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers (followers). – Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. – A service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
    6. 6. Twitter in FL learning and teaching • Many overviews of what Twitter is and why educators might benefit from it (i.e., Stevens 2008) • Educators vouch for Twitter’s use in the classroom : – Alan Haskvitz, “Twitter in the Classroom,” Reach Every Child – Kate Messner, “Making a Case for Twitter in the Classroom,” School Library Journal (December 1, 2009) – National Education Association, “Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching?” NEA Today Magazine (2009) – Laura Walker, “Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools,” Tech & Learning (April 16, 2009).
    7. 7. Twitter in FL learning and teaching • Selected empirical studies – Corbett, Mace & Regehr 2008 • Can be used to build community and support learning in the classroom (engagement and social use) • Perhaps not as effective at impacting learning – Antenos-Conforti 2009 • Creates a virtual extension of the physical classroom • Fostered strong sense of community; encouraged participation – Dunlap & Lowenthal 2009a • Instructional benefits include connecting classmates and instructor – Dunlap & Lowenthal 2009b • Encourage free-flowing just-in-time interactions and thus enhance social presence in online courses • Connect with a professional community of practice Many claim Twitter can increase social presence, connectivity and a sense of community, but few have set about to empirically and systematically test these claims.
    8. 8. Our goals 1. Determine if Twitter participants develop a sense of community through this medium. 2. Discover how and why participants interact via Twitter.
    9. 9. PROJECTS
    10. 10. Two contexts • Twitter in two contexts – Context 1: Intermediate French class • 1 semester (fall 2009) • Students tweeted among themselves and with native French speakers – Context 2: Foreign language teaching methods class • 1 semester (fall 2009) • Teaching assistants tweeted among themselves and with 80+ other TAs in the US and Canada
    11. 11. Intermediate French • 4th semester French, university level • 13 students (11 female, 2 male) • Students tweeted 3x weekly for 9 weeks – 2 tweets in the TL; 1 tweet in the NL – Used common hashtag (#) • Tweets represented status updates and current happenings in their lives • GOAL: build community among learners in the US and in France; extend learning outside of classroom
    12. 12. Intermediate French
    13. 13. Foreign Language Teaching Methods • Graduate course for new language TAs – At UF: 9 students (1 male, 8 female) – Elsewhere: over 80 tweeters from US and Canada, variety of backgrounds and institutions* • Tweeted 3x weekly – 2 original posts – 1 @reply – Used common hashtag (#FLTeach) • GOAL: build community to share, reflect on experiences as new teachers *Tweets analyzed here are from 7 UF students who gave their permission and 31 survey respondents (including those 7 UF students)
    14. 14. Student surveys • Unique surveys used in each class – Common aspects surveyed: •Familiarity with Twitter prior to project •Reactions to Twitter project •Open-ended opinion questions – Different aspects surveyed: •Useful aspects of Twitter •Frequency, purpose and content of tweets
    15. 15. Content of tweets • Content analysis – Tweets examined for evidence of social presence1 – Percentages of indicators that were • Affective • Interactive • Cohesive 1 Following Rourke et al. (2001) and Lomicka & Lord (2007)
    16. 16. SURVEY RESULTS Intermediate French Class
    17. 17. Intermediate French class • Had you heard of Twitter prior to this class? – Yes = 13 – No = 0 • Did you already have a Twitter account? – Yes = 3 – No = 10 • Are you comfortable using new technologies? – Yes = 12 – No = 1
    18. 18. Intermediate French class • Opinions on using Twitter pre/post 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 Love idea Like it Neutral Do not like it Hate it 2 4 4 3 0 3 5 3 1 1 PRE-semester POST-semester
    19. 19. Intermediate French class • Advantages to using Twitter 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 being able to have delayed communication being able to have instantaneous communication using language with professor outside of class following French students in Troyes being able to reply to someone’s tweet building community with classmates in 209 and in France having a 140 character limit being able to share information using language with classmates outside of contact time Features of Twitter useful in learning French (# responses)
    20. 20. Intermediate French class • Opinions on Twitter for learning French language and culture
    21. 21. Intermediate French class • Opinions on Twitter as a social tool
    22. 22. Intermediate French class • Open-ended questions – What did you like most about Twitter? • Reading the French students’ tweets • Knowing about the French students lives • Relevant to real life language use • Random comments were fun • Could reply to others • Helped feel more comfortable speaking – What did you like least about Twitter? • Using hashtags • The word limit • Sometimes feel like there is nothing to say
    23. 23. CONTENT ANALYSIS RESULTS Intermediate French Class
    24. 24. Intermediate French class
    25. 25. Intermediate French class Indicators Raw #s Total tweets 623 Total indicators 1004 Total affective 346 Total interactive 276 Total cohesive 29 % affective % interactive % cohesive Series1 34.46 27.49 2.89 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Percentag Indicators of Social Presence (class 1)
    26. 26. SURVEY RESULTS Teaching Methods Class
    27. 27. Teaching Methods class • Institutions represented* • University of Florida = 7 • University of South Carolina = 7 • University of North Carolina = 13 • Indiana University = 2 • Lakeridge Jr. High School (Orem, UT) = 1 • Missionary Training Center, Lone Peak High School = 1 *Recall that over 80 participants were involved in the tweeting, but only 31 filled out the final survey, through which permission to analyze data/tweets was granted. Therefore, only these 31 survey responses are considered here. In the content analysis, only the tweets of the 7 UF students who gave permission and did not cancel their Twitter accounts were analyzed.
    28. 28. Teaching Methods class • Languages taught – Spanish = 25 – French = 2 – Italian = 2 – Portuguese = 1 – German = 1
    29. 29. Teaching Methods class • Prior familiarity with Twitter – Yes = 4* – No = 27 *Of those 4, only two had Twitter accounts that they used with any regularity.
    30. 30. Teaching Methods class • Frequency of posts (out of 31 responses) – Required 3x/week = 17 – 3-5x/week = 10 – More than 5x/week = 2 – Fewer than 3x/week = 2 • Frequency of replies (out of 30 responses) – Required 1x/week = 13 – A few times/week = 12 – Several times/week = 1 – More often than that = 1
    31. 31. Teaching Methods class • With whom did you connect most through your tweets? 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Instructors teaching same language as me Instructors at other institutions Instructors at my own institution Nobody Everyone equally
    32. 32. Teaching Methods class • What were the main topics of your tweets? 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Reaction to my students Getting new ideas about teaching Reactions to my textbook Bonding What I was learning as a teacher Frustration Happiness Emotional response to something that happened in class Response to something someone else posted Asking for advice Recounting what happened in class
    33. 33. Teaching Methods class • Opinions on using Twitter
    34. 34. Teaching Methods class • Open-ended question Is there anything else you would like to share with me about your experiences with Twitter and/or your teaching methodology course this semester? – It was a really fantastic idea and a good experience for me as a first semester teacher… I really hope it continues into next semester! – It really helped all of the TA's bond and gave us a way to share our experiences and encourage each other. – I thought it was really helpful to read other people's tweets. Even if I didn't get concrete support/suggestions/advice, it was really nice to know that everyone was struggling with the same sort of things I was. It made me feel less alone. – I think Twitter would have been more beneficial to my university if our professor cared that we used it. – It was great to be able to take the time to reflect. – A lot of people wrote remarks about their classes that had absolutely no value for other people to read. That gave me the feeling that I was spending time reading a lot of text that I didn't learn from, or that didn't make me think new thoughts. I did get one good idea from someone's tweet, though, that inspired me. – I think using Twitter was less beneficial to me as a teacher than writing longer reflections and actually thinking about what I was doing as a teacher. The 140 character limit does not lend itself to deep thought.
    35. 35. CONTENT ANALYSIS RESULTS Teaching Methods Class
    36. 36. Teaching Methods class
    37. 37. Teaching Methods class Indicators Raw #s Total tweets 400 Total indicators 582 Total affective 185 Total interactive 329 Total cohesive 68 *Of the 400 tweets, a total of 71 (17.75%) were not coded as indicating any type of social presence. Others were coded with more than one indicator. % affective % interactive % cohesive Series1 31.79 56.53 11.68 0.00 10.00 20.00 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.00 Percentage Indicators of Social Presence (class 2)
    38. 38. DISCUSSION
    39. 39. Attitudes and Opinions Intermediate French • Generally favorable • Appreciative of opportunity for additional communication • Frustrated that the French students tended not to use twitter as much as the Americans Teaching Methods • Generally favorable • Appreciate community • Frustrated with trying to reflect in limited characters
    40. 40. Participant interaction Intermediate French • More affective than interactive • Hardly any cohesive Teaching Methods • More interactive than affective • Some cohesive • More cohesive indicators than in the language class
    41. 41. Conclusions • Return to goals: 1. Sense of community? » A sense of community was established through the Twitter interactions but differed in each class. 2. Participant interaction? » Social interaction was demonstrated largely through affective and interactive indicators (in differing proportions in the two classes, due to task demands and population make-up), with fewer indicators of cohesion.
    42. 42. Challenges • Many useful features of Twitter were not emphasized or used: – Direct messages (d) – Retweeting (RT) • Following other tweeters should be required for class projects • Difficult to retrieve tweets for research/analysis after the fact
    43. 43. Audience participation • Questions? • Have you used Twitter with your classes? How? Was it successful? • What do you use for community building tools?
    44. 44. Selected references • Antenos-Conforti, E. (2009). “Microblogging on Twitter: Social Networking in Intermediate Italian Classes.” In L. Lomicka and G. Lord (Eds.), The Next Generation: Social Networking and Online Collaboration in Foreign Language Learning (pp. 59-90). San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium. • Corbett, S., Mace, K. & Regehr, G. (2008). “Twitter in the online classroom: Case study report.” Retrieved from • Dunlap, J., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009a). “ Instructional uses of Twitter.” In P. R. Lowenthal, D. Thomas, A. Thai, & B. Yuhnke (Eds.), The CU Online handbook. Teach differently: Create and collaborate (pp. 46-52). Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises. Retrieved from ents/2009/Chapter_8.pdf • Dunlap, J. C. & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009b). “Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence.” Journal of Information Systems Education 20(2). • Lomicka, L. & Lord, G. (2007). “Social presence in virtual communities of foreign language teachers.” System 35, 208-228. • Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14, 51-70. • Stevens, V. (2008). “Trial by Twitter: The rise and slide of the year’s most viral microblogging platform.” TESL-EJ 12(1).