Context & the problem

The context

Both as a teacher in secondary education and as a teacher trainer I’ve been interested in teacher professional development. For my own professional practice I’ve engaged in numerous workshops and professional development activities. Although the "single shot" workshop is not an effective method for CPD (McConnell et al., 2013; OECD, 2015; Opfer, 2015Becuwe et al, 2015), it is still a widely embedded method for teacher professional development in Flanders, Belgium. Reflecting upon my own professional practice I conclude that besides the typical workshop I was often inspired through informal contacts on social media. In general, I consider myself a self-directed learner in many ways: finding resources for my lessons, exploring new tools on the web, implementing apps for smartphones in lessons etcetera. Many of these new technologies were discovered outside the organised trainings. This kind of informal learning through the openminded use of technology for the professional practice of teachers is the background for this thesis.

The problem (rationale)

Social media are hardly used in the context of the professional practice of teachers in Flanders. Table 1 contains data on the use of social media in classrooms in secondary education in Flanders. MICTIVO (I and II) stands for “Monitoring ICT Integration In Flemish Education". It is a longitudinal research funded by the government and aims at monitoring ICT integration in Flemish education.

Table 1: Results MICTIVO research (van Braak et al. 2012) - The use of social media in the classroom.

Very few teachers in Flemish secondary education use social media in their professional context.

According to van Braak et al (2012, p.363) 51,4% of the teachers indicate never using social media in the context of their teaching practice. These results refer to the actual use of social media in relation to the students and their learning in the classroom. Although the MICTIVO results do not investigate directly how teachers use social media for their professional development, it is likely to assume that social media as a means for continuing professional development of teachers is an area of possible growth. The table on p. 349 of MICTOVO II gives an overview of the frequency of teachers' ICT use outside the classroom. Social media is not mentioned as indicator.

Table 2: Results MICTIVO research (van Braak et al. 2012) - Teachers and the use of ICT for preparatory purposes.

The poor results of teachers' use of social media, the importance of teacher professional development in general, and the opportunities for enduring, inspirational development through Twitter are the cornerstones of this case study.

> Suggested: Scope of the study