Chapter 5: Gathering: Meeting the locals

Chapter 5 introductory graphic

The above tweet marked the point of departure for this Gathering, but what I now present is a summary of what that traversal through the data revealed.

Whilst it is possible for anyone to find information on Twitter, even without an account, that would render it no more a means of undertaking professional learning practice than say, using Wikipedia. With an account however, connections become possible and connecting is facilitated and encouraged through profiles and tweets. The bio and follow button help to begin the process, whilst retweets and likes help to sustain the relationships which form. Connecting is more than merely a one-time click when viewed as assemblage. Every tweet sent, retweeted or liked; every hashtag, mention or emoticon included; every link to a site, post or image, offers potential. It might be an act of renewal – touching base with those with whom you’re already connected – or growth, and be perceived as an invitation to make a connection.  A broad palette of possibilities is available ranging from a tight focus on those with similar experience, from similar educational contexts and with similar interests, to those from different educational phases, in different countries, who might espouse different pedagogical views. Each mix assembled by each individual will do different things.Read More »

Introducing the Gatherings

“gathering” flickr photo by mRio https://flickr.com/photos/64738468@N00/95087651 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

A common way to present analysis of data in a thesis or other report is by allocating chapters to emerging themes. In the last post I explained why I declined to undertake a thematic analysis leading to generalisable conclusions, so in the chapters which follow, I present an account of my analysis of the data. I call these chapters ‘Gatherings,’ drawing on the work of a number of authors, but predominantly Law (2004a: 160), for whom Gathering is:

[…] a metaphor like that of bundling in the broader definition of method assemblage. It connotes the process of bringing together, relating, picking, meeting, building up, or flowing together. It is used to find a way of talking about relations without locating these with respect to the normative logics implied in (in)coherence or (in)consistency.

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Chapter 4: Assembling Methods #2

Chapter 4 introductory graphic
Chapter 4 proved to be quite a long chapter, so I split it across two posts; this is the second and discusses ethics, data management, data analysis, and integrity.

Ethics

Although the formal stages of making ethics applications first for a pilot and then the main study are where my ethical thinking began, it continued through the data collection phase, on through analysis and presentation, and remains as a duty of care through the publishing of the thesis. By maintaining an ongoing ethical sensibility, I became increasingly attuned to ethical issues as they arose. I’ve discussed the thinking underpinning my ethical sensibility over a series of posts, so here I’ll simply summarise what was carried forward into the thesis.Read More »

Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1

Chapter 4 introductory graphic

Pilot study

Early on in the research I conducted a pilot study to to reveal issues and barriers related to recruiting potential participants, to explore the use of oneself as a researcher in a culturally appropriate way and to test and modify interview questions. Although familiar with Twitter as a participant, conducting a pilot study also allowed me to gain familiarisation as a researcher. I tested six different methods which I describe in more detail here. The table below reflects on the outcomes of the pilot methods.Read More »

Chapter 3: Sensibilities

Chapter 3 introductory text

The labour of knowing the world is taken up through theory and methodology. An instrumentalist view demands selecting the right methods to adequately represent reality out there. On the other hand a humanist view is more constructionist in which reality constructed through the actions of those involved. However, neither was entirely appropriate for my less anthropocentric study in which I was keen to avoid ignoring the nonhumans.Read More »

Chapter 2: Hinterlands

Chapter 2 introductory graphic

Given the continuing references to the city through the flanography, titling what might normally be called the literature review as ‘Hinterlands’ seemed more appropriate. For a city the hinterland is the region surrounding it which sustains and supports it, but which is itself influenced by the city. Supporting and sustaining my study are the literatures which precede and inform it, but to which I hope my study will also contribute. I refer to hinterlands in the plural since they are not only the inscribed outcomes of previous research, but include the methods which were employed to bring them into being, but I shall discuss them at greater length in a later post.Read More »

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1 introductory graphic

I’ve introduced each chapter of my thesis with a brief textual snippet setting out what the reader can expect. However, as you can see above, I’ve included it within a graphic to refer back to the ‘Streetmap’ and provide a reminder that the study is built around a flânographic approach.

The opening sections help to set the scene. First I outline what drew me to this study; how I first came to Twitter then became increasingly curious about the way people make bold claims for the way it supports their professional learning. I go on to discuss the research context within which that topic currently sits; that teachers’ professional development is a mature field of research, whilst Twitter has understandably only recently begun receiving attention. The gap that I’m aiming to fill is that no-one appears to have looked at teacher PD on Twitter from a sociomaterial standpoint. Given how highly mediated this practice is, I argue that adopting a sociomaterial sensibility might help contribute to our understanding of this phenomenon.Read More »

Foreword

Almost all theses will include an ‘Acknowledgements’ page expressing gratitude to all those supported the study: supervisors, family, participants, friends, colleagues. My thesis is no exception, however, I also took the less common step of including a foreword. Appearing in the abstract and table of contents were some terms like flâneur which I felt would benefit from preliminary explication. Since the foreword is only a page in length, I’ll provide it in full. I’m grateful to both Deborah and Craig for allowing me to include quotes from their blogs in my thesis.Read More »

PD and Parkruns

Once more I am grateful to Aaron for taking the trouble to read and respond to one of my blog posts. In this case it was the preceding post where I launched my abstract and discussed the rationale behind rendering a visual ‘table of contents.’ In his response, Aaron mused whether flânographic methodology might provide a window on the Indieweb community and practice:

… especially as a means of capturing a glimpse of change and development over time. Thinking about those involved in the IndieWeb, everyone has a different story developed over time. Although it might be possible to write a vanilla on-boarding process, I wonder if it is ever so straightforward for anyone?

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Thesis Abstract

Thesis Streetmap
“Visual ToC” flickr photo by IaninSheffield https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/45061354834 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license [click image for a larger version]
Before I write further posts as part of my viva preparation, I thought it might be helpful to provide a quick overview of what my thesis involves. The sensible way to do that – and the one requiring least effort – is by sharing the …

Abstract

“BEST. PD. EVER!” Some teachers make bold claims for the way that Twitter supports their professional development, yet research into this area is rather limited. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the practices involved and the part that Twitter plays. It uses a sociomaterial sensibility informed by actor-network theory (ANT) to unravel the complex webs of relations which form, break apart and reform when knowledge practices are enacted in the mediated arena of Twitter.Read More »