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Section: ICT & Teaching
Preservice Teachers’ Microblogging: Professional Development via Twitter
Country or Region: USA
May 2015   |   Type: Summary

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 15(2), 209-234.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines how preservice teachers used Twitter in a face-to-face undergraduate teacher education course.

Methods
The participants were 20 undergraduate teacher education students, who enrolled a course taught by the author during the fall semester of their senior year at a private university in the southeastern United States.

At the beginning of the fall semester, students were briefly introduced to Twitter in class and required to create a professional account. They were also required to do the following:
• Follow Twitter accounts.
• Send two weekly education-related tweets.
• Participate in Twitter chats.
• Submit an online survey regarding their experiences utilizing Twitter.

Data were collected through participants’ Twitter activities, including the number of accounts they followed and the number of accounts that followed them; instructor’s field notes and analytic memos from throughout the fall semester; participants’ fall end-of-semester online surveys; and participants’ post-student-teaching online surveys.

Discussion

The findings reveal that the participants benefitted from resources tweeted by their classmates. Furthermore, participants also monitored and used hashtags related to their areas of study and participating in chats. Hence, they had the opportunity to give to and take from a wide stream of Twitter activity. Teacher educators have an opportunity through Twitter to connect their preservice teachers to a source of diverse educational content that can potentially enhance their engagement with course material and support their ongoing learning outside of the physical classroom.

This study found that Twitter facilitated expansion of the classroom space by extending conversations beyond the time during which the class met and by drawing nonstudents into those conversations. The participants saw content from class being discussed by practicing teachers in Twitter chats and were able to discuss ideas themselves with other educators.
The author indicates that many of the participants reported valuing their Twitter connections and almost universally surpassed minimum requirements for following activity. The preservice teachers used their access to practicing educators to seek further information about course content and regarding its practical classroom applications.

In addition, it was found that the vast majority of the preservice teachers were positive regarding their course-embedded use of Twitter.

The author concludes that using social media such as Twitter in teacher education could present new opportunities for preservice teachers to jumpstart their socialization into their profession and their connections with its members.
He also argues that preservice teachers will likely benefit if they leave their teacher education programs with an eye for teaching and learning applications of social media.

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