More than Social Media: Using Twitter With Preservice Teachers as a Means of Reflection and Engagement in Communities of Practice

Feb. 15, 2016

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 16(1), 1-21, 2016.(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The present article illustrates the authors' attempts integrating twitter into their methods courses and investigates different opportunities that twitter provided for preservice teachers. The article describes these attempts from multiple perspectives—both from English educators and preservice teachers.

The authors used self-study approach. Data were collected from several sources: teacher educator reflections, teacher educator meeting notes, and preservice teacher tweets. The participants were two English teacher educators and two preservice teachers enrolled in teacher preparation courses.


The findings reveal that twitter helped the preservice teachers see critical reflection not as an individual enterprise but as something that occurs in interactions with others.
Furthermore, the authors found that the twitter assignment provided for preservice teachers to participate in a larger teaching community, sharing their own ideas and learning from the resources provided by other teachers. One way that preservice teachers were able to engage in a larger global community was by following other teacher educators or literacy experts on Twitter.
Twitter also made it easy for the preservice teachers in the courses to interact with authors of course texts directly.

The authors also found that the most beneficial aspect of using twitter was that the soon-to-be-graduated preservice teachers took on a mentoring role to the just-beginning-the-program preservice teachers. This form of mentoring via an online social network looked different from the traditional notion of mentoring. The preservice teachers provided advice by tweeting about topics of concern, such as implementing coteaching, building a rapport with students, and creating engaging lessons.

Finally, twitter helped preservice teachers to find new places for learning beyond the scope of the classroom alone. For example, in reflecting upon her experience using Twitter, one of the preservice teachers noted that examining others’ tweets helped her to understand how professionals reflected upon their teaching.

Considerations for Teacher Educators

The authors suggest that teacher educators must dedicate time in class sessions for exploring and unpacking the notion of reflective thinking. One way to scaffold reflective thinking is creating more experiences for their preservice teachers to see the advantages of twitter as a reflective tool in comparison to other tools for reflection.

The authors also suggest that teacher educators should provide other opportunities alongside regular tweeting for preservice teachers. They can use an online platform (such as Storify) to complete their assignment.
Furthermore, the authors found that twitter provided preservice teachers a chance to write for authentic audiences, and allowed them to interact with their peers and with other professionals.
The authors conclude that twitter provided unique opportunities for preservice teachers to engage with communities of practice and, to engage in reflection.

Updated: Oct. 03, 2017