presents a snapshot of educators’ perceptions of the value of the social
medium. The results have been organised around the notion of ‘inspiration as
knowing’ but a number of other, relevant issues were discussed during the process. I
list them on this page. Moreover, my research and analysis has been dependent on what participants have shared and as such it is open to interpretation. I realise that this is the case. This is significant in the light of my theorising on inspiration as central to teachers' involvement with professional learning through social media. More research clearly is needed on the effects of Twitter directly on practice.
Limitations of the social medium
Distinguishing the chaff from the wheat: the abundance of tweets and information spread through Twitter can lead to information overload. Participants sometimes found it hard to distinguish the relevant tweets from the irrelevant.
Dialogue though Twitter is hard! Often other Twitter users misinterpret tweets. The limitation of 140 characters makes nuance hard.
You have to put time and effort in building a relevant Twitter network. Especially in the beginning it is difficult to find relevant Twitter educators.
“But once you’ve got it rolling, it really has a snowball effect.” (Katrien)
Twitter is blurry (at the beginning): “what is this social medium for?” is an often heard question.
Sharing through a network like Twitter is related to personal teacher beliefs on sharing learning materials in general and the school culture in particular. This makes it often hard to convince colleagues of the surplus of the social medium.
“The willingness to share is linked to the school culture.” (Leen)
Areas that need further investigation
Participants found it hard to pinpoint concrete transfer to their actual professional practice. Although a number of teachers were able to identify exact moments of professional growth through Twitter, this an area that would need more investigation. Bridging the gap between “inspiration” and actual implementation in the classroom is eligible.
How do teachers filter the streams of Twitter content? Twitter provides access to streams and streams of content that can be excellent for someone who is engaged, motivated, tenacious and capable. However for someone who isn't? “How do teachers handle the overload? And how can teachers be assisted more in building the correct network?” are relevant questions for further investigation.
From the research data it became clear that there is difference in use of the social medium. Teachers use Twitter in a variety of ways. Roles that appeared from the data are:
- the infollower: the teacher that mainly follows other people in order to pick up information in a wide area of domains;
- the knowledge sharer: the teacher that more actively engages in sharing resources on purpose;
- the opinion seeker: the Twitter teacher that actively seeks to distribute knowledge in order to provoke and generate second opinions;
- the collaborative change agent: the teacher that seeks to spread his/her view on education in order to trigger change with other educators;
- the display learning tweacher (TWitter tEACHER): the teacher that actively uses Twitter to demonstrate learning from and with the students (the role that mostly demonstrates TPACK use of the medium).
This taxonomy of Twitter users needs more in-depth investigation to become saturated.
One particular implication from the research is to improve technological use of mobile devices by teachers. Since there is a clear correlation between the use of mobile devices and the CPD of teachers through Twitter, the increased use of mobile devices can be used a a trigger for teachers to enhance their professional practice. Use the mobile device as a lever for change. Learn teachers how to better use their tablets and smartphones in the light of CPD.
>> The References in this dissertation.
A special "shoutout" to all the Twitter teachers involved, my family, sons and friends, and my late father-in-law Dirk.