Thursday 11th April, 2013
1:25pm to 1:55pm
The relationship between people, context and technological tools is constantly evolving, prompting a review of notions such as space and time and their effect on learning. This paper addresses the key question: Can the social media platform Twitter provide a space or framework, within which learners might re-negotiate the boundaries between university, placement and home and create a productive learning environment? The research is informed by a hybrid theoretical framework combining connectivism and activity theory and places emphasis on the value and importance of diverse perspectives in the learning process. These multiple perspectives allow more actively engaged and independent learners to work through the contradictions between different identities. Inherent contradictions between perspectives lead to innovation and transformation in an activity system.
Ethnographic action research was used in the research since it encourages the collection of a ‘plurality of perspectives’ to inform the research process. Data was collected through participant observation of the tweets of a cohort of trainee teachers over a 7 month period, a survey about their use of Twitter and an interview with their tutor. Social network and linguistic analysis suggested that learners were able take part in a range of different discourse types – professional, social, educational resulting in a re-negotiation of their own perception of self-identity and role. They were exposed to a range of resources and expertise which enabled them to solve real life problems e.g. assignments, classroom practice rather than rely on the educational institution and tutor. The role of the tutor was re-negotiated but not satisfactorily resolved. Twitter appeared to provide trainees with a ‘space’ in which they were able to form and co-ordinate a personal learning environment and re-negotiate their role in their own learning. However, future research needs to explore whether the role of a ‘tutor’ is necessary in the Twitter learning ecology in order to ensure critical engagement and transformative learning.
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