Exploring teachers’ professional development with Twitter: A sociomaterial analysis

GUEST, Ian Fraser (2018). Exploring teachers’ professional development with Twitter: A sociomaterial analysis. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00146

Abstract

“BEST. PD. EVER!” Some teachers make bold claims for the way that Twitter supports their professional development, yet research into this area is rather limited. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the practices involved and the part that Twitter plays. It uses a sociomaterial sensibility informed by actor-network theory (ANT) to unravel the complex webs of relations which form, break apart and reform when knowledge practices are enacted in the mediated arena of Twitter. To explore this rich but messy environment, I evoke the spirit of the Parisian flâneur to develop an ethnographic approach I refer to as ‘flânography.’ Characterised by purposeful wandering, the approach coupled participant observation and interviews, with emerging methods involving a bot and a 'walkie-talkie' app. Adopting the sensibility of the flâneur consistently through data collection, analysis and presentation resulted in traversals which render pathways of experience. This led to me presenting the findings in three ‘Gatherings’ (Law, 2004a), each taking a tweet or other data snippet as a point of departure. Through the Gatherings I present the activities of both human and nonhuman participants, establish how they came together (or didn’t) and gain a better appreciation of the outcomes of those interrelationships. In reading across the Gatherings, two interlocking dimensions emerged through which teachers' learning practices on Twitter might be conceptualised. ‘Compound learning’ describes how practices can be understood through three meanings of compound: framed chemically (through formation of bonds and associations), financially (like interest which grows cumulatively) and as a mixture (an assortment of actors engaged in activities). The second dimension describes how compound learning can be enacted across three ‘scales:’ acts, activities and practices. By extending previous research, this thesis contributes a richer and deeper understanding of what ‘Twitter Professional Development’ involves, thereby helping to legitimise it within broader professional development discourse. Adding to the current literature on teachers’ professional learning, this thesis reveals how significant personal-isation is in two senses: that teachers can exercise choice in what, when and how they learn; and secondly, the importance of being able to forge socio-professional connections with fellow educators in different ways. The flânographic approach and the new methods which arose within it offer wider contributions for studies exploring activities which range across online and offline spaces, and through time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Director of studies: Mark Boylan
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00146
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 09:52
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2019 10:00
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/24081

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