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Twitter for professional learning: myths and realities

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These slides present some of my EdD research findings (Sept 2016). My research highlights the complexity of open online social networks for professional learning and online activities of higher education professionals.

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Twitter for professional learning: myths and realities

  1. 1. TWITTER FOR PROFESSIONAL LEARNING: MYTHS AND REALITIES Muireann O’Keeffe Institute of Education, University College London Dublin City University DCU Digital Learning Research Symposium November 2016
  2. 2. Motivation for this research I advocated Twitter as a learning tool with HE staff Rhetoric V’s research
  3. 3. Rhetoric V’s research Top Tool for Learning Collaboration & learning Supports sharing of practice Builds connections Keep up-to- date
  4. 4. Rhetoric V’s research Limited research: Twitter for informal professional learning (Gerstein, 2011; Holmes et al., 2013; Lupton, 2014) Need for investigation into informal opportunities for professional learning (Slowey et al., 2014; National Forum, 2015; Mårtensson & Roxå, 2015).
  5. 5. Research questions 1. What are the activities of HE professionals using the social networking site Twitter? 2. How are activities on Twitter supporting the learning of these HE professionals? 3. What are the barriers and enablers experienced by these HE professionals in engaging with Twitter for professional learning? Twitter Data }Interview Data Reflective Memos }
  6. 6. Concepts & theories Learning is a social phenomenon Social constructivism Socio-cultural theory
  7. 7. Conceptual underpinnings An approach to social learning: CoP model (Wenger, 1998) CoP dimensions: mutual engagemen t joint enterprise shared repertoire
  8. 8. Learning informally online • Networked learning, connected learning, connectivism • Common assumptions: learning is self-determined, participatory, authentic and relevant to needs (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Hayes & Gee, 2005; Ito, et al., 2013; Siemens, 2006). • Online as a space/place (White & Le Cornu, 2011; Gee, 2005) Visitors and Residents typology: Wenger’s (1998) modes of participation • Visitors : peripheral /non-participation • Residents : participation
  9. 9. Case study approach • Exploratory research • Holistic view of situation • Conclusions can be questions for further research (Buchanan, 2012; Denscombe, 2010; Yin, 2014) • Participants: 7 HE professionals • (Lecturers, learning technologists, academic developers) • Cross-case analysis
  10. 10. Visitor - Resident continuum (White & Le Cornu, 2011)
  11. 11. Findings: Activities (RQ1) Visitors • Information gathering • Absence of social presence Residents • Social presence • Connecting and interacting w/ other professionals
  12. 12. Findings (RQ 2 & RQ 3) Myth Twitter is an inherently social network Twitter is easily mastered to enable professional learning Reality Participants demonstrated different types of social particiaption online (Legitimate peripheral participation / participation) Barriers to online participation are not issues of digital competency, but rather more complex Twitter can provide opportunities for professional learning ……but creates implications
  13. 13. Key themes Capacity to participate socially on Twitter Confidence Vulnerability Belonging
  14. 14. Capacity to participate online Visitors Traits Resident traits • Lack of Time • Vulnerability • Caution • Not ready • Professional confidence • More knowledgeable others • Hierarchy • Easy to use in timely ways • Professional confidence • Establishing a social presence • Playfulness • Take risks • Understanding the rules of engagement • Engaging in critical discussions • Flat structure of Twitter Factors supporting participation }
  15. 15. Contributions… • Professionals use SNS in varied ways, not all positively disposed to participation • SNS provide opportunities but create complexities • Support needed: more than technical, Digital identity development (confidence & identity)
  16. 16. Implications for practice • Public SNS are not simple solutions for professional learning • Need to think about the complexities and problems they present… • Multiple issues identified need critical thought and further discussion among academic developers and those supporting education in digital era
  17. 17. References • Buchanan, D. (2012). Case studies in organisational research. In G. Symon, & C. Cassell, The Practice of Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges (pp. 351-370). London: Sage. • Denscombe, M. (2010). The good research guide: for small-scale research projects (4th ed.). Berkshire: Open University Press. • Garrison, D., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the twenty first century. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. • Gee, J. P. (2005). Semiotic social spaces and affinity spaces: From the age of mythology to today's schools. In D. Barton, & K. Tusting, Beyond Communities of practice: Language, power, and social context (pp. 214 – 232). New York: Cambridge University Press. • Gerstein, J. (2011). The Use of Twitter for Professional Growth and Development. International Journal on E-Learning, 10(3), 273-276. • Hayes, E., & Gee, J. (2010). Popular culture as a public pedagogy. Retrieved Sept 29, 2015, from jamespaulgee.com: http://jamespaulgee.com/admin/Images/pdfs/Popular%20Culture%20and%2 0Public%20Pedagogy.pdf • Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K.,Watkins, C. (2013). Connected learning: an agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA, USA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. • Holmes, K., Preston, G., Shaw, K., & Buchanan, R. (2013, August). ‘Follow’ Me: Networked Professional Learning for Teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(12). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from EduResearch Matters: http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=564 • Lupton, D. (2014). ‘Feeling Better Connected’: Academics’ Use of Social Media. News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra. Canberra: University of Canberra. • Mårtensson, K., & Roxå, T. (2015). Academic development in a world of informal learning about teaching and student learning. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2), 109-112. • National Forum. (2015). Mapping Professional Development Pathway for those who Teach in Irish Higher Education: Where are we now and where do we want to go? National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Dublin: National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. • Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Siemens, 2006) • Slowey, M., Kozina, E., & Tan, E. (2014). Voices of academics in Irish Higher education. Perspectives on professional development. Dublin: AISHE. • Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (5 ed.). California: Sage Publications.

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