So what about teaching by twitter

In the next week, I will be moving onto stage four of this ‘action research’ based social media ‘teaching by twitter’ experiment. So, what do I think I have learned so far …

Engagement

Twitter and Facebook has slowly grown, whilst Google+ and LinkedIn has remained almost static. Across all platforms we have around 500 participants. I am aware that some have engaged with more than one, but alas the technology is not subtle enough to accurately ascertain the crossover.

What I am aware of is that there are four distinct types of individuals engaging with the range of communities:

·      The professional that wants to help others learn, these are interesting souls as they occasionally ‘join in’ and add their wisdom/experience to the conversations
·      T216 (CCNA) students, following the learning, sometimes asking questions or sharing their academic woes
·      Students on our post-grad or ex-T216 students, chipping in giving advice
·      Non-OU students, using our community as a place to extend their own learning

What is interesting, at least in my mind? Is how certain posts elicit greater engagement? Whilst I have not finalised my exact framework, I have established that:

·      Direct knowledge nuggets often get ‘liked’ or ‘favourite’
·      Some, more challenging knowledge nuggets especially on security or more debatable subjects have encouraged comments, especially on linkedin
·      If I ask a open question, it may seem obvious, but I get answers
·      If I share a witty observation, I often get retweets and feedback
·      Occasionally I get messages, where I can see that my posts are being shared in other communities of learning. Often lauding the OUCisco feed as a place to go.

Platform

If we put aside the dominance of LinkedIn, I personally feel that all the others are ‘even’ in their adoption.  Apart from a minor monthly investment in the Hootsuite scheduling tool, one enjoys a system that on the whole is paid for by many third parties. I do not need to decree hardware, operating system or platform. In my mind this is a technological joy. We are entering a world where platform is not paramount.

I do use a ‘free’ RSS resource to push my Hootsuite managed content into our Moodle (VLE) environment. This in my mind is the only risk, as I have no form of service level agreement with this resource. If it fails, one may need to invest in a similar resource.


Opinion within
I have casually canvassed the students opinion on the use of social media as an ‘adjunct’ to their studies. Opinion is split, roughly 60/40 in favour. In my mind, there is some perceived bias against social media, some of which may be cultural and age oriented. To be frank, this is yet to be established.

Yet as I do more, more participants are slowly joining the communities I have created.

Framing the research
So far, this has been a personal dalliance; I have sought papers on teaching via social media. This seems to be an area of paucity … I may as yet have not looked in the right places (but believe me I have tried) … I think there are plenty of papers on teachers ‘using’ social media to extend their reach … but not in enhancing the on-going study experience.

My notion has moved towards an idea of my work being based on ‘enhancing learning by using social media’ subtitled ‘teaching by twitter’.

I am mulling the model around in my mind how social media can become an extension of the ‘in situ’ learning experience. Working equally for those in a face-to-face experience as well as those engaging in distance learning.

Somewhere I think that this describes Lave and Wenger, somehow I also see a notion of the cognitive apprenticeship at play. But somewhere there is a partial extension to pre-eminent constructivist ideas.

The notion that the ‘learner’ can absorb their knowledge from multiple streams of learning, in a semi-synchronous environment.




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