Should all teachers use Twitter, and if so, how?
As a teacher, I have had to self regulate my comments, my usage and professionalism, yet the benefits of Twitter technology far outweigh anything I’ve ever accessed before for professional development.
In an interesting paper, published in 2016, researchers unpick Twitter and Teaching: To Tweet or not to Tweet?
Now, you’ll know my views, whilst my journey has not been perfect, this website would not be here without my use of Twitter. Whilst I hope to keep blogging teaching ideas and resources on this site, it proves very difficult to ignore the power of Twitter for the education community.
On page 271 inside the PDF download, Sergej Lugovic, Wasim Ahmed and Matea Jocic provide a 12-page descriptive review of the recent literature that covers Twitter use in teaching.
The research aim was to understand how Twitter is used within the teaching community; to learn how the teaching world uses Twitter, to understand the current research available, and to identify any theoretical frameworks related to Twitter and teaching. Over 97 past papers were analysed, with 22 being selected in this research.
The researchers summarise the findings from each of these pieces of research. From taking a look through some of the highlights, teachers reading this blog post were also active on Twitter will not be surprised that “Twitter is used as an educational resource, which is truly multidisciplinary and breaks down boundaries between professional groups.”
Positives are identified, such as “the ability to connect, engage, learn, and educate oneself and others in real time on a global scale” as well as the downsides which active users will identify: “misinformation… lack of trust…, retweeting from reliable sources… losing meaning in the 140 characters… online behaviour becomes part of a user’s permanent Internet identity.”
Different ways to use Twitter
Page 277, there is a useful table that provides a summary of the different ways to use Twitter in teaching. Given that this research was published five years ago (at the time of writing), has anything changed?
- Blog writing: spread awareness about the subject and domain and reach an audience that she is much wider than your class and reach new potential readers
- Interaction with students: usually, dedicated Twitter users from the faculty will use Twitter to interact with students. To overcome oversharing, it is possible to use multiple accounts, one for tweets that students will see, and one for private posts.
- Creating public awareness: promote external events relevant to classes
- On social issues/being a citizen scientist: through Twitter, students could interact and find out about relevant topics more in-depth and from different perspectives
Discussion and conclusion
The researchers conclude that information literacy has the ability to recognise information, identify, evaluate, and use information effectively. Twitter provides teachers with a source of information, a behavioural approach (to adopt), for example, their interests, their network, or the process which allows them to cover different aspects of information as well as socio-cultural methods for communication.
I know I have formed incredible relationships from Twitter, as well as having ‘my hand slapped’ as a school leader, and would you believe it as a ‘parent tweeting about teaching’ from my son’s school. Whether these ramifications are right or wrong, it is the teacher’s responsibility to keep learning. It is worth noting that the researchers highlight the “extra efforts teachers put in are not usually recognized by the educational system they operate in.”
The main obstacle is that the use of Twitter within teaching is left to the individual teacher and their interest in developing their own skills in social media and using it to improve their teaching process.
On that note, you may be interested in my latest social network analysis, of Twitter, unpicking anyone and everyone discussing “keep schools open” as we reach the height of the Omicron variant in the U.K.