Waikato Journal of Education


Microblogging as a form of expression has gained momentum, particularly in the past two years. A widely used version is Twitter, which began by asking 'What are you doing?' but changed that to 'What's happening?' in November 2009. While posts responding to this initial question were often inane and superficial, microblogging began to be harnessed for research and learning purposes. Changing the microblogging question can be profound. This paper reports on a case study with eight participants during a teaching practicum in 2009. These participants posted messages to Twitter from their phones or computers, as a way of examining the question 'Does microblogging help teacher education students develop self-reflective practices?' A subsequent participant focus group interview discussed (digitally recorded) their Twitter/phone experiences. Methodologically, the thematic content analysis process extracted themes from the tweets, examining them in relation to both the research question and the subsequent focus group feedback. Tweet categories included pedagogy, complexity, emotions, curriculum/planning, and relationships. In terms of findings, a sense of community was an unexpected bonus, and while 140 characters was initially difficult and limiting for explaining ideas, it honed participants' reflective thinking. Participants generally decided that this project using Twitter was of great value in the very individual and often isolating experience of teaching practicum.

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