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Title: Exploring higher education professionals' use of Twitter for learning
Author: O'Keeffe, M. B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 0543
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This study draws on the responses of seven higher education professionals working in various roles in higher education in Ireland. Individual case studies illustrate participants' use of the social networking service, Twitter, for professional learning. Cross-case analysis is used to highlight similarities and differences among cases. There are increasing pressures in higher education to professionalise teaching to provide excellent teaching to students. Opportunities for formal learning exist for those who teach and support teaching but recently online social networks have emerged as ways of accessing informal professional learning opportunities through sharing and discussing practice online. However this study calls into question the widely accepted notion that Twitter inherently enables social learning and thus enables professional learning. Wenger's (1998) community of practice model, which proposes that learning occurs in relationships between people and that mutually negotiated activities contribute to identity construction, was used to problematise how professionals used Twitter for learning. White and Le Cornu's (2011) Visitor and Resident typology helped identify online engagement of participants on Twitter and highlighted differences in social presence and participation. While all participants recognised Twitter as valuable for informal learning, what was most interesting about findings was that Visitor participants experienced barriers inhibiting them from establishing social presence and participating in social activities on Twitter. These factors included the capacity to participate in social networking activities, issues of confidence and vulnerability, and absence of belonging in online spaces. These findings have implications for those who advocate online social networks for learning and professional development and this study argues that support is needed for higher education professionals in using public online social spaces, such as Twitter. Such support should include critical thinking and dialogue about the complexity of online social spaces coupled with identity development work, while building digital capabilities of professionals.
Supervisor: Pachler, N. ; Hughes, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available