The path to Twitter is paved with …

Clearly no marks for originality, but there’s my first tweet. Those which followed illustrate that Twitter for me was more about learning with and from other educators. It still is … but I digress. As I’ve been analysing the data from my research, the routes by which people come to Twitter to support their learning are rather different. My tweet above was at 18:33 on the 19th February 2009, and was prompted by a fellow Master’s course member, Geoff, who suggested I might find Twitter interesting. The path for me then began with a course (Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation and Change), followed by a nudge from someone whose opinion mattered. Can you remember the route by which you came to use Twitter to support your professional learning?Read More »

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Never mind the quality, feel the width…

“integrity” flickr photo by drumminhands https://flickr.com/photos/drumminhands/7114464945 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

In preparing for a forthcoming supervisory meeting, I’ve been asked to share what I felt were the standout insights from my empirical observations, but for each one explain how I know, how I convinced myself of that, and how I can convince others. I guess what I’m being asked here is to justify my claims to knowledge; how do I assert that my interpretations are plausible? Lincoln and Guba (1985:290) phrase it as follows:

“How can an inquirer persuade his or her audiences (including self) that the findings of an inquiry are worth  paying attention to, worth taking account of?”

For them it is about trustworthiness and the arguments which can be mounted to make the case, however, assessing the quality of research findings is far from straightforward and is contested in a number of ways. Traditionally, research quality has been judged on the criteria of validity, reliability, generalisability, and objectivity. Validity, simply put, is the extent to which an account adequately represents the phenomenon it purports to. Reliability is related to the replicability of the data generation and analysis; if different people conducted the same study, or the same person on different occasions, would the outcomes be the same? Generalisability refers to the extent what has been learned can be extended to wider populations and objectivity, to how the biases and interests of researcher and researched have been reduced or accounted for.Read More »

What do teachers do on Twitter? Emerging findings.

“Sharing” flickr photo by bengrey https://flickr.com/photos/ben_grey/4582294721 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

When teachers are active on Twitter, they participate in a wide range of practices. From the outset it is important to state how their activity is underpinned by the principle of reciprocity. When one teacher claims that Twitter helps them keep abreast of current educational research, it follows that at some point, someone else must have contributed that information. When teachers describe how they contribute ideas, share experiences and signpost resources, that might not immediately appear to be enhancing their learning. However, when taken in the round, at some point the same teachers will have benefited from others having done the same. Professional practice within this communal space is based on exchange, both giving and receiving.Read More »

Connecting

One of the most frequently mentioned activities when teachers discuss their use of Twitter is ‘connecting,’ and the purpose of connecting is in order to learn. Principally, they’re seeking connections with other people, but also in order to link between different spaces, for example between Twitter and blog posts. Some of the most important connections they’re seeking to make are with other teachers, especially those who share similar interests, passions, and are of a ‘like-mind.’

Whilst connecting with specific individuals can lead to strong and trusting relationships forming and reforming, there’s a recognition that by doing so, you’re also connecting with the whole network of other connections that person benefits from; it’s a cumulative or even exponential process. Knowing the importance of making and maintaining connections, some act as brokers in bringing together people and things they think would interest or assist one another.

…or seeing someone tweeting about some subject and you think, well you need to speak to this person; those sorts of connections I think are incredibly important and that’s not really to do with the technology, it’s just about being a nice person …
(J Dale)

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Groups, communities, collectives or …?

Recently Stephen Downes released an updated version of a graphic outlining how groups and networks differ in what he proposes as ‘The Semantic Condition,’ a network design principle. He helpfully explains how the diagram was produced in this video:

In addition to the criteria he uses to distinguish between the two ways in which people might organise or aggregate, what attracted my attention was the appearance of Twitter within the arguments. One of the aspects coming through in the data from my research, is how educators on Twitter describe the ways in which they come together. The most common term people seem to use is community, but group, tribe and network also appear. Although these terms are conceptualised differently, I suspect in most cases, a particular term is used simply because it happens to be the favoured choice, rather than having an awareness that there is a distinction between it and the others. If I was to explore this more carefully, I might be able to tease apart the ways in which people see these different terms, but suspect that what for one person is a community, could just as easily be what a tribe is for another. It was from wondering how these different groupings are distinguished from one another in the literature, that I was attracted to Stephen’s graphic.Read More »

Ghost of Christmas past …

“Working sheepdogs” flickr photo by gwyn_bard https://flickr.com/photos/gwynbard/232674743 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Whilst some hashtags are short-lived, perhaps responding to an event in the educational news (#onboardwithGonski), others are ongoing and in continuous use (#mfltwitterati). Hashtag chats like #ukedchat do the work of both marshalling regular events and serving as a point of contact for those wishing to provide resources or news targeted at a specific community of interest. In a previous post, I wrote briefly about #12daystwitter, a hashtag that appears intermittently, but which recently enjoyed its fourth birthday. This post by Mickie Mueller, the founder of #12daystwitter provides the background and history, but essentially those who join in are set a simple, daily challenge which they respond to through Twitter. The intention is that they learn about participating on Twitter and perhaps have some fun into the bargain. Here I want to delve a little more deeply into what the hashtag shepherding this apparently simple activity actually does.Read More »

Silent majority

When @MartinaEmke kindly retweeted my tweet promoting my last post, she followed it up with this provocation:

Although the people associated with the tweets was beyond the scope of that post, I must confess, it’s a topic to which I’ve already devoted some thought. How might we account for those who remain invisible because they don’t (inter)act? Approaching this with a sociomaterial sensibility, it would be too easy to claim that since there is no action, they cannot be deemed to be actors; they cannot be ‘followed’ and there is therefore little to say about them. Studies of this phenomenon, often called ‘lurking,’ have emerged which frame this behaviour in positive terms (Nonnecke & Preece, 2003; Walker et al, 2013). Crawford (2011) suggests using a metaphor of ‘listening’ as a way to conceptualise lurking. This then redefines the activity from being “vacant and empty figurations to being active and receptive processes.” However, Martina’s question seemed to require a more methodological framing; how does actor-network theory deal with something it can’t ‘see?’Read More »

Deconstructing a tweet

“The Note!” flickr photo by Smitten with Kittens https://flickr.com/photos/annabanana74/3809670806 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Maybe it’s the brevity of being restricted to only 140 characters that causes us to take a tweet for granted. Or perhaps the rate at which we read and produce them has rendered them into little more than message carriers; digital versions of the scribbled notes we might once have passed under the desk in school. Of course they are message carriers, but I’d like to suggest that, thanks to the different components we include, and to Twitter’s algorithms, they actually do much more than that.Read More »

Interview – @KristianStill

CPDin140 – Kristian Still Kristian (@KristianStill) provides here a very balanced set of insights and observations of both the bright and darker sides of Twitter. What I do need to add though is that during the brief chat we had after the ‘stop’ button had been pressed, Kristian recalled times past and other activities which…

via CPD in 140 – Kristian Still — EDUtalk

I have to confess to some frustration with this post; not, I should quickly say, with Kristian’s contribution at all. No it was with my ability to ‘clean up’ the audio in post-production to get it to the point where it was acceptable for podcasting. I tried my best in Audacity, but I wasn’t up to the job. Or perhaps the fact that we conducted our chat over the phone, coupled with the equipment I used, meant that the original audio quality didn’t provide much to work with?

I’ve had a few audio blunders during the course of my interviews, although fortunately, few which rendered the contributions of my kind participants unusable for my research. For the most part, I could hear well enough to transcribe the audio, and being able to capture people’s insights is what really matters. Although one might consider publishing the podcast is a bonus, it was for me a fundamental part of trying to bring something new to the research and problematising the notion that participant anonymity is always the most appropriate route. By not providing a crystal clear rendering of my participants’ contributions, I feel I have let them down somewhat.

Anchor’s Aweigh!

anchor

Hang on! The app update seems to have created a few problems. You might not be able to find the waves from within the app. Apologies for the interruption to service, but am looking into it…

When Joe Dale mentioned Anchor to me during an interview, I knew that it might offer some potential. Having thought about it some more and done a little preliminary testing, this is where I now find myself.

It’s almost a truism that the more you find out, the more questions you raise. As I’ve been interviewing folks, reading blog posts and reviewing the literature, there are themes beginning to emerge that warrant further exploration. But how to cover a range of topics in the diminishing time available? Here’s where Anchor might help, with it’s short, audio message format channeling the spirit of Twitter.

Each week over the next couple of months, I intend posting a single question asking about teachers’ use of Twitter and I’d love it if you could find the minute needed to respond. It will probably take no longer than writing a tweet (once you have the app), but in one minute’s audio, you can shoehorn in far more information. If you’re up for the challenge, the questions will accumulate below; have a listen, then dip into the app if you feel in a position to contribute, either to the prompt question, or to someone else’s wave.Read More »