Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership
Last week I submitted another academic journal article about educators’ uses of Twitter. I promptly celebrated by going to the beach. Here’s the abstract, a quick overview of what will be found in the article. It looks at the PLN phenomenon through the lens of professional communities. Overall, I think Twitter offers users some good stuff when it comes to professional learning, but it’s not always obvious to users what they are (and there may be gaps/biases in what gets “learned”).
Purpose: Speculation around the potential advantages of online professional communities has continued to increase. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to explore school administrators’ experiences of the professional community on Twitter. The first research question relates to the perceived benefits of membership in the community. The second research question relates to what knowledge administrators actually share online.
Research Methods: Study participants ranged from throughout the United States and Canada, representing a variety of settings and experiences. Seventeen administrators were interviewed about their uses of and experiences on Twitter. Over the course of 15 days, their Twitter messages (i.e. tweets) were collected, resulting in 1460 messages. Data analyses addressed the perceived benefits of Twitter, as well as the knowledge shared on Twitter.
Findings: In terms of Twitter’s benefits, many were personal. Administrators reported enjoying a reduced professional isolation, feeling part of a special club, and feeling more knowledgeable. Although some reported school-level benefits, this was less frequent. In terms of knowledge sharing, Twitter was a source of both formal and informal working knowledge. However, formal content about work centered on only five topics, with technology being most frequent. Informal working knowledge was transmitted via workplace vignettes, small talk, and announcements.
Implications: This study has implications according to three areas: school technology leadership; the use of Web 2.0 for professional growth; and the unexpected benefits and costs of being connected via social media.