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Twitter in Education: Interactively exploring the conversation with TAGS and TAGSExplorer


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There has been much research in the use of social media to support learning and teaching. In many instances it is argued that it enables a decentralization of learning moving towards a distributed model which has many benefits including supporting a stronger foundation for lifelong learning.

Twitter is one service that has been widely used within this context. The introduction of hashtags as a mechanism to allow communities to form and contribute to a topic is now a well established model within both formal and informal education as well as in society in general. The use of Twitter in this way removes boundaries extending the opportunities for co-learning, in particular, discussions can become less siloed, every contribution to a hashtag community is potentially another opportunity for someone else to join the conversation. The thinning of the walls in this way is not without it implications and the vulnerability of being a learner should never be underestimated. Another consideration is that Twitter has been adopted as a tool to support learning in this way rather than being designed for this purpose. As a result exploring and finding understanding within hashtag communities can be problematic and with many open learning contexts individuals can end up feeling lost.

This conversation will explore approaches to help learners and educators gain more insight and a feeling of place within hashtag communities. As part of this we will look at TAGS and TAGSExplorer tools ( which have been developed with educators and learners in mind to help support the collection, analysis and exploration of Twitter hashtag communities. These free tools provide a means to collect data from Twitter searches and analysis the results either in Google Sheets, where the data is collected, or visualized in the companion TAGSExplorer web interface. As part of this conversation we will touch upon the limitation of data collection from Twitter and issues around data protection and privacy. We will also provide some examples of where TAGS/TAGSExplorer has been used within an educational context.

Published in: Education
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Twitter in Education: Interactively exploring the conversation with TAGS and TAGSExplorer

  1. 1. Twitter in Education: Interactively exploring the conversation with TAGS and TAGSExplorer Martin Hawksey @mhawksey #TLCWebinar Slides This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. CC-BY mhawksey
  2. 2. Outcomes ◊ Able to perform basic Twitter analysis techniques; ◊ understanding of the limitations and opportunities of data from Twitter; ◊ *Inspire* you to do more 2@mhawksey
  3. 3. Why? 3 Image: CC-BY-NC-ND Tintin44
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Education is changinging @mhawksey 5 Image: CC-BY-ND Bryan Mathers
  6. 6. Connected now… ©EDUCAUSE
  7. 7. @mhawksey Image credit:
  8. 8. What’s happening … @mhawksey 8 ActivePassive Dialogic Transmission
  9. 9. In-class Backchannel Uses: ad hoc class discussion, real-time commenting, recording divergent viewpoints Benefits: engages less vocal students, archives otherwise ephemeral comments Outside of Class Discussions Uses: extend class discussions, exchange comments about readings or questions about assignments Benefits: community building, continuity between class sessions In-class Directed Discussion Uses: Open or guided questions with student responses collected for later analysis Benefits: engages all students in discussions in large lecture classes Tracking Activities Uses: find and follow instructor experts in the field, or key topics Benefits: exposure to the lager cultural conversation about the class material Lightly Structured Activities Uses: solicit course feedback, offer ambient office hours, poll class, language or writing practice Benefits: flexibility, availability, scalability Metacognitive/Reflective Activities Uses: students report on self learning, articulate their difficulties, recap the most valuable lesson of the day Benefits: fosters critical thinking Institutional communication Uses: community outreach, alerts, announcements Instructor Communication Uses: announcements, syllabus changes, reminders Pedagogical Communication Uses: sharing timely links and resources Student Activity DialogicTransmission Passive Active Mark Sample’s Twitter Adoption Matrix @mhawksey 9
  10. 10. vulnerability ©Alec Couros
  11. 11. Patterns are …left behind Courtesy Marc Smith
  12. 12. Twitter Search 12@mhawksey
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  14. 14. @mhawksey 14
  15. 15. Lets interface … {API}Image credit: CC-BY-NC nikki
  16. 16. Twitter Search API – Single tweet 16@mhawksey
  17. 17. Twitter Search API Limits ◊ Data from last ~7-9 days ◊ Last 18,000 tweets for search term ◊ Developer ‘Rules of the Road’ on storage 17@mhawksey
  18. 18. 18 Twitter Archiving Google Sheet
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  21. 21. Google Sheet benefits 21@mhawksey
  22. 22. Going further… TAGSExplorer 22@mhawksey
  23. 23. Breaking the cell 23
  24. 24. Activity Worksheet - Note: Links are case sensitive 24@mhawksey
  25. 25. SocioViz @mhawksey 25
  26. 26. 26
  27. 27. Summary ◊ Able to perform basic Twitter analysis techniques; ◊ Understanding of the limitations and opportunities of data from Twitter; ◊ *Inspire* you to do more 27@mhawksey
  28. 28. @mhawksey STARTS 20 AUGUST
  29. 29. Worksheet - Slides - Note: Links are case sensitive Thank you! @mhawksey+MartinHawksey 29@mhawksey
  30. 30. Association for Learning Technology Registered charity number: 1063519 @A_L_T