Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 18(2), 271-288. (2018)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article compares the ways in which two teachers use of Twitter and other forms of technology in their professional lives.
The participants were two early career teachers. They were secondary English female teachers. They were introduced to multiple forms of technology in their preservice literacy course and later adopted some technology practices in their English classrooms.
Data were collected through participants' tweets, likes, and personal messages on Twitter; participants' self-reports of how Twitter and other forms of technology were used in the classroom and outside of the classroom in professional work. The author also used one participant's Twitter chat reflection and the other's digital story.
Further data sources included participants' final course reflections; their responses to a short survey about technology use distributed to them in the fall 2016 semester; and follow-up online interviews after the survey completion, and personal online communications with the author.
The author found that both teachers noted that using Twitter to gain access to resources and connect with professionals in the field was critical for them and could be of value for teachers more generally.
The author also found that both participants expressed overall positive dispositions toward technology use generally and Twitter specifically. Both teachers also faced challenges in their engagement with technology.
One participant’s initial frustrations with her first Twitter chat experience centered around not being seen, acknowledged, and interacted with during the conversation. The participant eventually realized that her privacy settings made her tweets invisible to other participants. The participant also reported that her tweet to introduce her colleague to Twitter chats allowed her to share this professional development tool with others, positioning her as an expert in this area where she had initially felt completely overwhelmed.
The other participant’s challenges stemmed from her struggle to negotiate authentic uses for technology in her professional practice. She tweeted in response to classroom prompts or to extend classroom discussion during the literacy class and designed her digital story for the literacy choice project. The author found that her original tweets received few retweets or likes. However, she rarely directed tweets toward specific users. Because of this approach, the participant may not have experienced a sense of interactive professional community when she took the risk of putting her ideas forward via Twitter in a classroom space.
The author suggests that teachers need meaningful, guided opportunities to engage with technology including social media, to negotiate their own personal challenges, and to find ways in which technology can be empowering tools for their professional practice.
The author recommends that teacher educators can play a critical role in introducing teacher candidates to various forms of technology, and supporting them to develop and enhance positive dispositions toward technology as a professional tool.