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Education

Twitter as a professional learning tool

Twitter doctorMy recent doctoral research into the use of Twitter as a professional learning tool found that the group of educators in the study believe microblogging to be a valuable professional learning tool and they undertake various activities in order to support their own learning and the learning of others in their network. All participants in the study were educators who microblog regularly. They reside in a number of different countries with most coming from Australia, USA, Canada and Europe and all used the English language in their microblog posts. They range in age and experience; some being new teachers who had only recently begun to microblog, and others being recognised as experts in the field of education and experienced microbloggers.

The study found that the inclusion of microblogging in a professional learning network (PLN) gives educators access to resources and information exchanges with other educators that they would not otherwise have. The ability to engage in dialogue with peers and experts outside their geographic area allowed these educators to seek advice and support from others with a wide range of experience and knowledge, and thus extend their thinking.

The affordances of microblogging, and Twitter in particular, support learning in a variety of ways. Firstly, the 140-character limit on posts results in information being shared in an efficient manner.  Secondly, the use of hashtags (#) allows educators to easily share, and subsequently find, resources and information on particular topics. Finally, the convention of retweeting exposes ideas and individuals to a wider group of educators and thus enables them to expand their own PLN. Access to a wider network increases the opportunity to harness the collective intelligence for individual learning.

Over the coming weeks I’ll share various interesting findings from the study in ‘bite sized’ posts. Click here to download the full thesis – Learning in 140 characters: Microblogging for professional learning.

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