Understanding impact and reach for any research is a standard question. Impacting any research using social media, irrespective of delivery platform. The challenge for twitter is that the common metrics focus on followership, number of likes and retweets (content sharing) – however, followerships are fickle.
Longitudinal research over a period of two years, focussing on the use of Twitter for a FutureLearn MOOC as well as a distance learning course in network engineering has extracted significant data regarding engagement and impressions when using social media as a pedagogical adaptation. The MOOC typically repeats during the year, running for 10 week periods. The distance learning course, runs for a nine month cycle from October to June.
Each group is distinct – the MOOC offering a short ten week social media experience to a self-selcting community of 10,000 (estimated) learners. The Network Engineering course, offering a longitudinal (nine month) social media experience to an enrolled community of 500-600 undergraduate students.
Impressions – in twitter’s own terms represent who has seen your output. Irrespective of followership – this can be via feeds, scrolling, visibility in retweets or replies as well as the community engagement of the followership. While Twitter is no longer an emerging technology – it has many affordances allowing scalable community engagement (Junco & Timm 2008).
Rather than chasing followers, which is always tempting. Instead – offering a route to understanding how your community is engaging may adjust the way other academics/educators and learning technologists apply twitter to their teaching. In effect, the process of decanting MOOC or distance learning content into ‘micro units’ (Hug 2005) offers an alternate ‘leaky’ approach to delivery – reminding students as well as reinforcing conceptual principles.
This presentation will focus on sharing critical observations comparing the two twitter accounts (against the distinct types of distanct learners) and their respective communities of practice. It will also explore how each set of impressions can be understood as an essential social media measure of impact – when using social media as a teaching tool. Knowing that these are both self-selecting, self-enrolling participants (Junco 2012).
Hug, Theo (2005): Micro Learning and Narration. Exploring possibilities of utilization of narrations and storytelling for the designing of “micro units” and didactical microlearning arrangements. 4th Media in Transition conference, May 6–8, 2005, MIT, Cambridge (MA), USA.
Junco, R. and Timm, D. (2008). Using emerging technologies to enhance student engagement. New directions for student services, 124. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Junco, R. et al (2012) Putting twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success