Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 14(4), 451-467, 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this study was to identify preservice teachers’ attitudes regarding Twitter as an informal professional development tool during their internships.
The participants were 82 undergraduate preservice teachers, who were enrolled in an Internship II course at a midsized public university in the Southeastern U.S.
The teacher candidates were asked to complete surveys articulating their social media preferences and reasons for choosing whether or not to follow the Twitter account in the study.
The results reveal that preservice teachers who followed a Twitter account as an informal professional development medium during internship viewed the experience as helpful, particularly with respect to learning about new classroom resources, classroom strategies, and classroom technologies. Preservice teachers indicated other social media services may be preferred over Twitter. Most of the respondents preferred Facebook (82.5%), Pinterest (82.5%), and YouTube (57.5%).
As this study indicated a willingness by some preservice teachers to continue following an informal faculty Twitter account even after completing the teacher credentialing program, an opportunity exists for teacher educators to broaden their support to novice teachers who might need additional encouragement and resources as they begin to lead classrooms of their own.
Furthermore, a significant majority of preservice teachers who opted to use the informal Twitter account viewed it as being helpful, particularly with respect to learning more about classroom resources, new classroom strategies, and new technologies. With support, teachers engaged in a school-based Twitter exchange may also contribute what they learn with fellow teachers on site.
Noting the large percentage of preservice interns who chose not to follow the informal Twitter account during the study because they “do not like Twitter,” teacher education programs and school districts should also consider other social media outlets (e.g., Facebook) as a supplement to a Twitter feed meant to provide informal professional development.
Twitter offers a powerful opportunity for teacher educators to connect with and support preservice teachers during their early careers, while also providing preservice educators a tool for connecting with other educators as they face the challenges of their own classrooms.
An important consequence is that preservice teachers using Twitter as informal professional development support in their internships want that support to extend into their in-service practice. Novice teachers desire professional development that offers immediate, customized support; social media, particularly Twitter, may be one such tool to address this need.