An Investigation into the Potential Uses of Twitter within Learning and Teaching

An Investigation into the Potential Uses of Twitter within Learning and Teaching

Presented at #SocMedHE15: http://bit.ly/SocMedHE15

The use of twitter in an educational environment has been the focus of a number of previous studies e.g. Mirski et al. (2010); Hend S. Al-Khalifa (2008) and the potential benefits of using twitter to support a variety of academic and personal activities have been well documented e.g. Mollet et al. (2011). However there have been few quantitative studies into the natural usage of twitter within learning and teaching and the implications for social media usage and policy within HE.

For this study, a set of tutorial instructions were co-developed with students to introduce them to the benefits of twitter, along with a set of use cases for twitter within the module e.g. using a course code hashtag (#COMP1678) to share course-related information. Twitter was then introduced during the first tutorial session for 3 courses at UG and PG level.

To evaluate the levels and types of activity by students and lecturers, an application was created that collected and stored the lecturers’ tweets, @mentions of the lecturers’ usernames and any tweet that contained the course code hashtags.

Around 80% of the students signed up for twitter and the majority sent at least one tweet. Only a few individuals made attempts at sharing information by the use of the course hashtags, which were predominantly used by the lecturers and not by the students. Around 31% of students though used twitter as a way of communicating with the lecturers regarding the course, enabling succinct and almost real time communication outside of the classroom.

Other issues relating to pastoral care, online identity and the separation of personal and private accounts were also encountered which fed into the production of a social media policy and set of guidelines, which have now been approved for use across the University.

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Ed de Quincey

December 18, 2015
Tweet

Transcript

  1. 1.

    An Investigation into the Potential Uses of Twitter within Learning

    and Teaching and the Implications for University Social Media Policies and Guidelines Dr Ed de Quincey, Keele University Many thanks to Avril Hocking, University of Greenwich
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    Dr Ed de Quincey @eddequincey Postgraduate Course Director School of

    Computing and Mathematics, KeeleUniversity Lead of the Software Engineering Research Cluster instagram.com/eddequincey
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    Dr Ed de Quincey @eddequincey Principal Lecturer School of Computing

    and Mathematical Science, University of Greenwich Head of the Web 2.0/Social Web for Learning Research Group, eCentre instagram.com/eddequincey
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    Using twitter with this course We are intending to use

    twitter with this course in 3 ways: 1. As an alternative method for posting useful course specific information to students e.g. links to articles, emergency changes to lecture times etc. 2. Enable students to ask questions about courses e.g. clarifying something from a lecture, asking about coursework specifications etc. 3. Encourage students to help one another and create communities of practice/learning.
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    you could also use hashtags such as #COMP1314Lec1 if you

    are asking about something in the first lecture, #COMP1314Lab1 for the first lab session, #COMP1314CW for information about the coursework and so on. Just make sure that the hashtag includes #COMP1314
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    Twitter was introduced during the first tutorial session for 3

    courses at UG and PG level, across 2 Schools within the University
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    1. All tweets from lecturer accounts 2. All tweets that

    contained the relevant course codes 3. All direct messages and replies
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    161 tweets (56%) were @mentionsi.e. the lecturer replying to a

    student’s tweet indicating a good level of 2 way- communication
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    !

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    received 40 direct (private) messages from 11 students, all asking

    questions, again indicating a good level of 2-way communication
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    The hashtagsfor the 2 courses had less impact than the

    use of messaging, with #COMP1444 being used 98 times (50% by the lecturer account) and #COMP1314, 75 times (33% by the lecturer account).
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    Around 31%students used twitter as a way of communicating with

    @DrEddeQuincey regarding the course and although a few individuals made attempts at sharing information by the use of hashtags, this was not the primary use
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    For @AvrilHocking twitter was used mainly to communicate with students

    but extended use beyond the tutorial was limited
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    Students were willing to sign up for twitter and the

    majority sent at least one tweet, but their continued use was very much dependent on whether they were already active users or whether they understood it’s potential uses during and after the course
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    A number of students have utilised twitter as a quick

    method of communication between themselves and the lecturer. This enabled for almost real time communication outside of lectures and tutorials and immediate resolution of issues
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    students have to ask concise questions that can be answered

    within the same limitation. From the lecturer point of view, replies can be quick and to the point, no need for email etiquette and format e.g. salutations and sign-offs.
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    For lecturers that utilise twitter on a continuous basis as

    a natural part of their work, the ability to monitor and send quick replies to students via a range of devices is more efficient and does not get lost amongst other work related email.
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    The hashtag course codes were primarily only used by the

    lecturer and were sparsely used in all courses to share information, discuss course content etc. by students.
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    Differences between groups seems to have affected twitter usage, in

    particular the class size, subject studied and frequency of face to face contact had the largest impact.
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    Social Media Policy 1.3 However, increased use of these sites

    makes it possible for the lines to be blurred between personal and business use. It is a paramount principle of this Policy that staff consider, when using these sites, whether they are speaking on behalf of the University, or in their own personal, or professional, capacity.
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    Social Media Policy 1.4 The University recognises that individuals may

    have different types of account: Business or official accounts – relating to the member of staff’s business e.g. the University’s Official twitter account @UniofGreenwich, a Facebook group that represents a department, or an official role within the University’s faculties, departments and offices. These types of account are subject to the University’s business acceptable rules.
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    Social Media Policy 1.4 The University recognises that individuals may

    have different types of account: Mixed use accounts – which may be used for different purposes, whether personal, professional, academic or business / official. If these accounts incorporate use for business or official purposes, they will also be subject to the University’s business acceptable rules when being used for that purpose e.g. advertising a University event or replying to a student’s message from a Lecturer’s twitter account. Personal accounts – which will be separate from business or official use, and are therefore not subject to the University’s business acceptable use rules.
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    Social Media Guidelines 2. If you are going to use

    a social media tool as part of your business or official role at the University of Greenwich, then you need to follow this procedure: 2.1 Setting up of new pages, accounts, feeds, groups, systems or profiles … • Information should be given to users / students about the system, and about how to use it • Information should be given about the implications of using it • Consider whether you are going to require your students to use it, and is this fair? … 2.5 For more information about teaching, learning and assessment opportunities in social media, refer to the Greenwich Connect website
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