12 September 2019

Research pick: Education hashtags on Twitter - "Analysing professional discourse on Twitter: a mixed methods analysis of the #openeducation hashtag"

New work published in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments suggests how professional discourse might usefully be analysed on the micro-blogging platform known as Twitter.

Fredrick Baker of the Department of Instructional Design and Technology at the University of West Florida Patrick Lowenthal of Boise State University in Idaho explain how both professionals and academics now commonly use social networking sites such as Twitter for scholarly discourse around resources and networking. They point out that the use of so-called hashtags – keywords that are assigned a special searchable place within the Twitter system by virtue of adding a “hash, #” character (often known as the pound sign in the US) can be very useful for finding connections between users and related content.

In their work, they have looked at how education is discussed on Twitter by tracking and following the #openeducation hashtag. They used as a scalable mixed methods content analysis model to follow the discourse associated with this hashtag . They were able to analyse almost one thousand Twitter updates, or “tweets” and then group them according to themes. Thirty-two themes emerged from the analysis across eight main categories. They were than able to develop a questionnaire to survey users in a more informed manner and to reveal ties between users and connections within the information discussed that could might then be useful to those involved in open education in the broadest sense.
“The study shows that the hashtag is an active platform for connecting with others and sharing ideas, that open education designs and open educational content are the primary theme areas discussed on the #openeducation hashtag, and that the most active hashtag contributors are active voices in open education in a variety of ways,” the team concludes.

Baker III, F.W. and Lowenthal, P.R. (2019) ‘Analysing professional discourse on Twitter: a mixed methods analysis of the #openeducation hashtag‘, Int. J. Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.107-121.

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