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TWITTER AS A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE FOR EDUCATORS:

MICROBLOGGING EXPLORED
Jo McLeay
19376251

The number of educators microblogging has recently escalated and is “becoming serious in
informal learning”. (Costa, p. 8) Microblogging is “a variant of blogging which allows users
to quickly post short messages on the web for others to access.” (Costa, p. 2) Twitter is the
most popular platform for microblogging. (Java, p.1) This essay attempts to explore this
phenomenon through the heuristic of the concept of communities of practice in order to
understand this use. It looks at whether microblogging by educators, and specifically the
formation of groups of educators on Twitter, can be thought of as communities of practice,
and whether the learning constructed by these groups can be thought of as professional
development. (See glossary at end of the paper for unfamiliar words associated with
microblogging)

The effectiveness of traditional teacher professional development has been questioned in


recent times: “research substantiates... the ineffectiveness of the all-too-common one-shot
workshop” (Klonsky, 2003). This is true especially in the context of new requirements for
ongoing professional learning by state mandated institutions (e.g. the Victorian Institute of
Teaching). Traditional professional development is characterised by one-off days where,
despite research into learning, teachers are subjected to transmission based teaching methods
from a speaker or presenter who “delivers” a presentation. This knowledge is then expected
to transform practice in the classroom. This traditional teacher professional development,
despite being ineffective, is also expensive of time and money, and questions are naturally
raised about better ways to achieve ongoing learning in the fast moving field of education.
"Investing in professional learning is the key to ensuring that schools become learning
communities where teachers work together, learn from each other and share best practice on
effective teaching and learning." (Office of School Education, 2005)

Networks in education are highlighted in government policy on professional development for


educators: “It is only through the collective work of teachers and by creating a shared
professional knowledge that sustained school improvement will be secured.” (Office of
School Education, 2005) and Hans van Aalst demonstrates that “networking is a powerful
tool for improvement” for an organisation’s culture (van Aalst, p. 40). He shows that
communities of practice are a type of network with all the value that networks provide:
provision of links and interaction, some self-management and the creation and use of
knowledge. He also shows that networking, a fundamentally human activity, can be enhanced
by electronic means (van Aalst, p. 33). But it is as a community of practice that the network
that I will be exploring, that is microblogging educators, will be under the spotlight.

PART ONE: communities of practice


The heuristic of communities of practice has allowed us to see valuable situated learning in
the daily lives of learners. Moreover, in the discourse of the reform of education and school
improvement it is taking its place as a strategy to be employed. Caldwell (p. 18) goes so far
as to say that the concept of communities of practice is “moving from a rather comfortable
and frequently informal approach to the sharing of professional knowledge to a strategy that
is central to success in the transformation of schools.” But how could it work to transform
schools and why choose this particular lens to look at a phenomenon that many have
dismissed as navel gazing and a waste of time?

The concept of communities of practice is valuable among educational researchers when we


take account of the number of studies that reference it. Hildreth (p. xi) states that the concept
has a much broader impact than it did ten years ago when Wenger published his influential
monograph of the same name. (Wenger, 1998). This is because it can help explain and
predict aspects of social learning among educators. Examining the practice of educators
involved in microblogging through the heuristic of communities of practice can help us see
this practice in a new light and add legitimacy to the practice, if it is seen to result in
knowledge construction and sharing. According to Hildreth (p. ix) the term has moved
beyond Lave and Wenger’s original use for social learning in communities whereby
“newcomers to a community learn from old timers as they are allowed to undertake more and
more tasks in the community and gradually move to full participation.” (Lave, 1991)
Membership of communities of practice “allows teachers to collaborate, to develop new
knowledge and to develop and learn about new resources” (Hildreth, p. x) as “the sharing
and developing of knowledge are key activities of a community of practice.” (Hildreth, p. xii)

What are the essential elements of a community of practice? In his examination of a group of
medical claims processors in an insurance company, Etienne Wenger (1998) solidified his
understanding of the term. For the current exploration it is essential that some key terms be
understood. Wenger emphasises that the theory of communities of practice is a learning
theory, developing his earlier view with Jean Lave, of situated learning, learning that is an
outcome of participation, that is engaged in and passed on from generation to generation (The
term ‘generation’ as used by Wenger (1998) refers to the trajectory that newcomers go
through on their way to being full members of the community and eventually leaving the
community.) Jonassen expresses this view clearly: “Learning results naturally from becoming

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a participating member of a community of practice.” (p. 117). Communities of practice can
be defined as “self-reproducing, emergent and evolving entities that frequently extend
beyond organizational structures”. This attempt at a definition by Schlager and Fusco (2003)
quoted in Koch (p. 3) is helpful as these authors’ research into communities of practice
among educators, specifically Tapped In a community of which I have been a member for
many years. Their definition resonates with my own experience.

Along with this trademark evolving structure, Wenger (1998) had defined three important
terms, and these terms will be important in the later evaluation of microblogging
communities of educators. They are mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared
repertoire. These three attributes are key ways to differentiate communities of practice from
teams or groups. Mutual engagement is Wenger’s term for the common endeavour which
constitutes the practice of the community. Mutual engagement consists of the actions that
members are engaged in whose “meanings they negotiate with one another.” (Wenger, p. 73)
Being present to other members and able to interact are key to mutual engagement; being
included and a feeling of belonging are also part of this. Mutual engagement necessitates
community maintenance. An example of this in the claims processors community was the
member who supplied snacks to share with other members at the workplace. Mutual
engagement does not imply homogeneity; rather diversity is fine and can be enhanced by
mutual engagement (Wenger, p. 76) This will become significant in Part 2. Mutual
engagement is essential for the development of joint enterprise.

The joint enterprise that constitutes the practice of a community of practice is, according to
Wenger, a negotiated, collective process (Wenger, p. 80). In many cases of communities of
practice studied for this paper (see reference list), the enterprise is owned by the participants,
despite being a part of the workplace with the language of “bosses”, “demands”, and “work
hours”. As highlighted by Kimble (2008a) there is an internal motivation to being involved,
pointing to the importance of learning as part of the formation of identity. Membership is
voluntary and a community often grows informally around a need (Kimble, 2008a p. xi).
Even so, the context of the participants has a “pervasive influence” (Wenger, p. 79) and is
part of the drive towards finding solutions for problems and constructing learning that helps
develop participants’ “inventive resourcefulness” (Wenger, p. 80). As members go about
their joint enterprise in their mutual engagement, they develop what Wenger calls a shared
repertoire. (p. 82).

The shared repertoire includes “knowledge, beliefs and suppositions” as well as “local
jargon, nicknames or locale specific common ground” (Kimble, 2008a, p. xii) as part of a
collection of resources for negotiating meaning” (Wenger, p. 82). This collection of resources

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can include “routines, words, tools, ways of doing things, stories, gestures, symbols and
actions” (Wenger, p. 83) that have become part of the practice. In this exploration of
microblogging we will see many of these (see also Appendix 1: List of Twitter Resources).

Participation and reification are also key concepts for the understanding of communities of
practice. In Wenger’s view, participation and reification are components of learning through
the collaborative negotiation of meaning among members. Participation gives individuals
experiences which they remember to a greater or lesser extent and these memories are subject
to interpretation and the construal of meaning. Reification “produces forms that persist”
(Wenger, p. 88) and this process “compels us to negotiate their meaning” each time they are
used (Wenger, p. 89). Both participation and reification are modes of existence to help shape
the future of a community of practice. This rich seam will be mined more fully when we
come to look at microblogging educations in Part 2 in the community called by some the
“edutwittersphere”. (See also Appendix 1: Reification)

Wenger goes on to elaborate how these elements make up what he sees as learning, through
remembering, forgetting and interpretation across a community. “Learning is not just a matter
of competence but a matter of the experience of meaning as well” (p. 263), and this has to do
with the negotiation of identity. “Education… concerns the opening of identities – exploring
new ways of being (p. 263). A major topic of interaction among the microblogging educators
is how we are to redefine education and schools for the 21st century.

Brokering is another important concept, and it explains how teachers being members of
communities of practice outside their workplace are able to influence the workplaces with the
learning created. Traditional professional development often takes place outside the school
and almost always outside the classroom, and the learning needs to be brought back to the
workplace. A microblogging educator bringing the learning to the school or workplace is
acting as a broker. A broker will understand a problem or situation in the workplace through
their experience in a different community of practice and be able to influence the practice
among colleagues at the workplace. As Wenger affirms, “[b]rokering is a common feature of
the relation of a community of practice with the outside” (p. 109).

Social Capital is a term (borrowed from sociology) for the “concrete personal relationships
and networks of relations… in generating trust, in establishing expectations, and in creating
and reinforcing norms.” (Lesser, p. 126) It is not hard to see how this fits into the theory of
communities of practice with its understanding of mutual engagement and joint enterprise. In
this sense the learning that results from this participation in community and the trust that is
engendered through the participation is a part of this social capital. The learning does not

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reside in the heads of the individuals per se, but in the network of relations that make up the
community of practice. The recognition of such social capital means that these “communities
can be supported… to benefit the members of the communities and the organisation as a
whole” (Lesser, p. 126).

Coming back to where we started when first defining communities of practice (p. 2), we
remember that communities of practice are not static but subject to evolution (Hildreth, p.
xii). In Part two of this paper we will see how microblogging is evolving and new tools and
conventions are being adopted.

A very important aspect in evaluating a group to see if it is in fact a community of practice is


the relationships it engenders. Kimble 2008a emphasises that “informal relationships form
based on trust and confidence (p. xii). We will see that the community of educators that is
forming on Twitter “fulfils the human desire for interaction” (McInnerney, p. 73), overcomes
isolation, engenders a sense of belonging in a joint enterprise. Thus it is a source of influence,
learning and identity.

PART TWO: Twitter as a community of practice for educators

Twitter is a form of microblogging that was launched in July, 2006. It has grown very fast
with 94, 000 users within eight months of its launch (Java, p. 1), it now has over a million
users with over 200,000 active users per week (Arrington, 2008). As Twitter is a “social
networking and micro-blogging site that allows users to post their latest 140-characters-or
less-updates… through one of three methods: web form, text message, or instant message”
(Arrington, 2008) it is also a means of communication with affordances for forming
distributed communities. There are many similar services such as Plurk, Pownce, Jaiku and
Identi.ca, but Twitter is the most popular form of microblogging to date (Wikipedia/Micro-
blogging)

The reasons that many educators are part of this are the ease with which knowledge can be
shared and developed and meanings attributed to situations and experiences common to
educators in developed English speaking countries can be negotiated. Educators who have
joined twitter join because it is easy and people they already know and trust have joined it.
Some may hear about it through workshops and conferences and try it out. There are varying
levels of participation – some say it is not for them, they do not have enough time, or is too
distracting.

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The effects of participating, reading and posting often – from several times a day to all the
time they are online through third party applications such as twhirl or twitterific are many (In
using third party applications many users hear a chime whenever a tweet from one of their
“friends” comes through, much like an alert for an email. As part of the research for this
study I put out a question on both twitter and plurk: What has been one effect of your
participation in twitter/plurk? (See Table 1: Twitter and Table 2: Plurk) and looked at the
verbs present in the replies. Verbs used included: tried, used, accessed, shared, clarified,
discovered, linked, was supported, read, demonstrated, taught, collected, upgraded, learned
and continue to learn. These are dynamic learning words, speaking to mutuality and identity.
Life giving words reminiscent of the practice of participation. Let’s explore some more about
this in the terminology of communities of practice.

Table 1: data from Twitter

Can you point to some knowledge that has been created because of microblogging?
What has been one effect of your participation in twitter/plurk?
AngelaC @jomcleay Have read a wide variety of blog postings, tried new
software, and used apps like voice threads, Ustream and Wordle
annemareemoore @jomcleay access to up to date info, links to what people are blogging,
great resources that others share. It’s all good!
etalbert @jomcleay "knowledge created via microblogging" I have accessed
online, meetings, conferences etc and not left my house ... too cool!
Skip Zalneraitis @jomcleay Access to many high quality educational blogs
lucybarrow @jomcleay Since joining Twitter, my delicious links have gone through
the roof! I have a constant stream of valuable resources from my PLN.
David Noble @jomcleay Significant support in planning, preparation and
backchannel around the recent TeachMeet @ Scottish Learning Festival
Sue @jomcleay i have tried new software and activities because of tweets
and pln support and clarified ideas because of help ;}
nrwatkins @jomcleay I discovered Wordle and Google forms thru Twitter, though
I read blogs too, so probably would have found out about them anyway
I wonder if your workplace or students is/are getting some benefit from you being on
plurk/twitter
Amanda @jomcleay I'm benefiting from the global connections & so is my
workplace. It's helped me to build connections between teachers &
students
AngelaC @jomcleay workplace is definitely benefitting heaps, students do to a
lesser degree

Table 2: data from Plurk

Jo McLeay wonders can you point to some knowledge that has been created because of
microblogging? What has been 1 effect of your participation in twitter/plurk?
October 13, 2008 Our 'PLN reflections' taught me how to build a slideshow from nothing

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at 09:38 bookjewel and demonstrated the potential power of web 2.0 to colleagues!
October 13, 2008 I've collected a huge wealth of resources that I refer to frequently - from
sharon_elin says examples to "how to's" to collections of topical information
October 13, 2008 I have upgraded my wiki and collected a host of web 2.o sites that my
at 10:35 megbg students now use
says
October 13, 2008 I learned how to embed vokis and glogs into wikis and blogs. (Sounds
at 11:41 kmulford like Klingon, I know, but it's true!)
October 13, 2008 I learnt how to put a slideshow into my blog and numerous tips for using
at 11:58 my shiny new mac
TeachingMother
says
October 13, 2008 I have learned that I'm not alone with my struggles. Another one would
at 12:00 mrichme be the PD opportunities through ustream, coveritlive, skype, etc.
says
October 13, 2008 learned how to use ustream, skype, make wikis, oovoo, voicethread, live
at 12:10 conferencing, attend PD online
loonyhiker says
October 13, 2008 thinking about your term created - different from knowledge learned
at 12:25 susanvg
says
October 13, 2008 My vision is less local, more global. I feel like part of a community,
at 12:56 dmcordell rather than a voice in the wilderness!
says
October 13, 2008 I can continue to learn & share tech knowledge despite being retired.
at 13:28 KarinBeil
says
October 13, 2008 Many of us have shared resources and created projects online.
at 13:34 dmcordell
says

In Part one, we saw how participation in a joint enterprise is a key attribute of a community
of practice. It is clear from the tweets of those in my community that the educators are
enthusiastic, passionate teachers. Those I “follow” (300+ people, all of whom are educators)
include practitioners from all sectors from kindergarten to university professors, and live in
Europe, Great Britain, USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and countries in South
America and Asia. But wherever they are and however they feel about it minute by minute
they are present in my network because they want better outcomes for their students and their
participation in this community is part of this endeavour. Community maintenance is part of
this and the community has evolved to include tweets that are greetings, birthday wishes,
support in times of bereavement, family illness and work crises, invitations to local face to
face meetings when twitterers from out of town are visiting and other live events, virtual or
face to face (often both). In plurk, emoticons are an important part of community
maintenance and recently twitter, not to be outdone, developed twitterkeys (a way to easily
use wingdings such as ♥♣).

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The mutual engagement is in the volume of tweets that passes across the screen hour by hour
(depending on how many people you follow). The community of practice of microblogging
educators works well when there is a diversity of participants, otherwise it would feel like an
echo chamber. Twitter is a communication tool that is user friendly and has a low
participation barrier. Just like the presence of the claims processors that Wenger wrote about
in the office of the insurance company and their ability and being allowed to talk to each
other, the platform of twitter and its affordance make mutual engagement possible. The
adoption of the @ symbol to create a link directed at a specific person and the ability to
search for replies to our tweets with the @ symbol and our username created the
opportunities for conversations without which the evolution of a community of practice
would have been a lot less likely. This engagement is so satisfying for many participants that
they speak of “addiction” to twitter (a quick search of blog posts about twitter attests to this.)

The knowledge, beliefs and suppositions shared by edutwitterers include the discourse of
improving students’ experiences of learning, that knowledge is to be shared, not hoarded, the
value of discussions on ethics while using the internet, citizenship and the future of schools.
There is a conscious value given to the etiquette of respectful discussion and disagreement as
well as transparency. These values and beliefs are not limited to educators on twitter or even
to educators, but they are noticeably present in the writings of those I follow on twitter. These
are a part of the shared repertoire of this community of practice. Twitter specific jargon has
developed (see glossary) and this includes collective nouns for the community such as
“tweeties”, “tweeple” and “twits”. The community itself is referred to as the “twitterverse”
(those on plurk have their own name: “plurkadia”). The shared repertoire includes the custom
of wishing others goodnight or good morning when they themselves are going to bed or
getting up, often with a wry acknowledgment that it is a different time of day for other
participants.

Another custom is that of “shoutouts” when a member is showing twitter to another group
who are not familiar with it. It is common to see a tweet “say hello to a group of teachers in
(name of place)”. Those who are online at the time will reciprocate and the twitter will have
15 to 20 shoutouts from all over the globe in as many minutes – a powerful way of showing
the reach and influence of twitter. Often members will introduce someone new to twitter:
“please welcome (name of person) and older members will add them and say hello to them
by name as well.

As far as a repository of resources is concerned twitters have made wikis and bookmarked
resources and will tweet the link. As noted by Costa microblogging at conferences

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“enable[es] the spontaneous co-construction of digital artefacts” (Costa p. 1). In the last
fortnight since I have been working on this topic, two resources: a searchable spreadsheet and
a wiki have been made so that educators may more easily find those educators with common
interests or areas of work. These resources, and customs are part of the reification mode of
twitter which along with participation enables the community of practice to function and
evolve.

The way that the edutwittersphere has evolved is dynamic with new tools and functions being
added frequently. Conventions such as the use of @ and # have been brought over from IRC
(Internet Rely Chat). The @ symbol is very useful as it makes a link. When a person I am
following addresses another twitterer I can click on the link, see their contributions, see their
photo or avatar and self description. I may then choose to add them to the list of people I am
following. The # is used by a program called Twemes to search tweets for topics of interest:
“Twemes.com follows public Twitter.com tweets (messages) that have embedded tags that
start with a # character.” Twitscoop also searches tweets: “input a twitter username or
keywords in the search box to track a conversation, topic or conference. The results will auto-
refresh every 20 seconds”. Recently developers have added tools that enable you to see who
has removed you from their network and after which tweet they stopped
(http://useqwitter.com/). Statistics/graphs of twitter use and followers are also available.
(http://www.twittown.com/twitter-statistics). Work is also happening on a program to help
twitters to follow threaded conversations (http://tweader.com/).

The kind of learning that is enabled by being part of the twitter educator community of
practice is often called “just in time learning”. A question can be asked and almost
immediately the twitterer will have more than one suitable way of solving the problem or
links to resources where they could find the answers. Because twitter can be accessed via the
mobile phone it is easy, and available anytime, anywhere. Unlike traditional views of
learning, which resides in the individual this is distributed learning. I have heard people refer
to it as their “outboard brain”. All can learn from anyone else, as there are no teachers and
students per se. All members of the community of practice would consider themselves as
learners and show the attributes of life long learners. Another kind of learning seen on twitter
is serendipitous learning, where just by seeing a tweet addressed to someone else a twitterer
can find an answer for a problem they are facing. It is not surprising therefore that when seen
as a community of practice, twitter should be “a powerful catalyst for enabling teachers to
improve their practice.” (Hildreth, p. x) Another way of learning that educators have found
through twitter is the live tweeting of conferences to enable the learning to be distributed to
those who are not able to attend, as well as among those present at the conference. See
Appendix 2 for an example of the live tweeting of a recent educational technology

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conference in Canberra. As a result of this, there is currently a discussion of the ethics and
etiquette of live tweeting which promises to be quite interesting.

All of the above shows that educators find meaning in their enterprise through twitter and this
is linked to their identity in very interesting ways. Advice to new twitterers often includes
what to do and not to do as you will appear aloof or unintelligent: “Remember that your
personal profile shows a history of all your tweets so if somebody comes to it and it’s just
empty, or you only post a mundane update every day or so, why should they bother following
you?” from http://www.caroline-middlebrook.com/blog/twitter-guide-3-using-twitter-
properly/ accessed 20/10/08).

As educators, members of this community of practice will frequently want to be brokers to


others in their workplace. But this may be difficult as the site is often blocked at school for
being a “dating site”. It can also be seen as a distraction to workers and a waste of time.
Alternatively its power can be shown when a question is asked of the twitter network and a
useful answer is forthcoming within minutes. In the light of the difficulties of using twitter at
work one might be surprised to find that educators do still want to collaborate in this way
when so many other intentional online communities of practice have had difficulties.
“Effective and successful virtual communities of practice do not happen without attention to
their design, launching and support” Kaulbeck, p. 26), and yet twitter was not made for
educators and no support is given by schools to the use of twitter. Despite this it is clear from
this study that much learning is happening within this community. An explanation of this
may possibly be found in a paper by Shumarova (2008), where she discusses the “shadow”
collaboration present in informal communities when the formal channels of collaboration
may not elicit the same energy and participation.

The twitter community of educators does indeed conform to the understanding of a


community of practice. It has the three main attributes: mutual engagement, an emphasis on
interaction, conversation and community building in their joint enterprise of improving
education for all learners, and over time have evolved a shared repertoire that is apparent in
the jargon which provides members of the community with the lexical items they need in
order to talk about the subject matter, as well as customs and tools for enhancing the
interactions. The learning is clear from the active and dynamic verbs that community
members use to talk about the effect that membership of plurk and twitter have had on their
work as educators.

There are of course, questions that remain. Given the informal nature of this community of
practice, the learning can have no currency in academia, no credit is given and there is no

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assessment other than that of real life problem solving. Some might say that having a 140
character limit on individual posts may hinder the ability to be reflective about the learning.
However, the reflection is often distributed over time and still accessible in the archives.
Twitter and microblogging in general cannot be a tool that does everything. Blogs are still
important for the longer reflective posts about learning and twitter can inform the community
of these posts as they are written. Comments can be made on these blog posts and there is no
limit on the length of these. Other more serious concerns are that twitter can be distracting,
that it can result in information overload and that it is not suitable for all learning styles
(Costa, p. 8). As Costa concludes on the same page: “microblogging does not present us with
an ubiquitous learning strategy.” There is an investment of time needed, of that there is no
doubt. The information overload is part of living in the 21st century and being part of this
community of practice can in fact filter the information overload and point us to great
discussions and useful resources. Twitter is the platform of choice for many lifelong learners
and, as a community of practice, it presents us with learning opportunities and presents a
welcoming way to enter a network.

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GLOSSARY

Microblogging: a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually 140
characters) and publish them
Plurk: a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates
(otherwise known as plurks) through short messages or links, which can be up to 140 text
characters in length. Updates are then shown on the user's home page using a timeline which
lists all the updates received in chronological order
Twitter: a social networking and micro-blogging site that allows users to post their latest
140-characters-or less-updates through one of three methods: web form, text message, or
instant message
Twits: people who use twitter (see also twitterers, tweeties, tweeple)
Twitterers: collective noun for people who use twitter
Twitterverse: all the people in the twitterer’s network
Tweeties: collective noun for people who use twitter
Tweeple: collective noun for people who use twitter
Tweets: updates by twitterers
Edutwitterers: Twittering and Networking for Learning Professionals
Edutwittersphere: educators who use twitter (from edublogosphere)
twhirl : a desktop client for the Twitter microblogging service based on the new Adobe AIR
platform
twitterific: application for Mac that lets you both read and publish posts to twitter. User
interface is clean, concise and designed to take up a minimum of space on desktop.

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Koch, M., & Fusco, J., (2008) “Designing for Growth: Enabling Communities of Practice to
Develop and Extend their Work Online”, in Communities of Practice: Creating Learning
Environments for Educators, (Vol 2) Edited by Chris Kimble and Paul Hildreth, Information
Age Publishing, Charlotte, N.C.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E., (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Lesser, E., & Prusak, L., (1999), “Communities of Practice, Social Capital and
Organizational Knowledge”, Information Systems Review 1, No. 1, 3-9, White Plains, NY.

McInnerney, J., & Roberts, T., (2004) “Online Learning: Social Interaction and the creation
of a sense of community” in Educational Technology and Society, 7 (3), 73 - 81

Office of School Education (2005) Professional Learning in Effective Schools: The Seven
Principles of Highly Effective Professional learning Published by Leadership and Teacher
Development Branch Department of Education & Training, Melbourne accessed on 20/10/08
from
http://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/staffdev/teacher/induction/ProfLearningInE
ffectiveSchools.pdf

Shumarova, E., & Swatman, P., (2008) “Informal eCollaboration Channels: Shedding Light
on ‘Shadow CIT’”, 21st Bled eConference eCollaboration: Overcoming Boundaries Through
Multi-Channel Interaction, June 15 - 18, 2008, Bled, Slovenia

van Aalst, H., (2003) “Networking in Society, Organisations and Education”,


In Schooling of Tomorrow, Networks of Innovation: Towards New Models for Managing
Schools and Systems. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Wenger, E., (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.

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Wikipedia/Micro-blogging: accessed 20/10/08 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-
blogging

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APPENDIX 1: SOME TWITTER REIFICATION

Twitter Advice

From: http://bethkanter.wikispaces.com/twitter_primer

DO NOT engage with Twitter if you don't want to invest time, attention and resources in
making real connections there.
DO NOT encourage your staff to Twitter if you don't want them to share information quickly,
connect to one another more deeply, and discuss your nonprofits work with the broader
public.
DO NOT even try it unless you are open to serendipitous returns. If you establish rigid goals
and "pursue" them with Twitter, you may as well just flush the toilet. Be open to spontaneity.
Go with the flow.
DO NOT approach Twitter with the aim of accumulating and controlling an audience.
DO NOT mistake Twitter for software.
DO NOT Twitter without love.

List of Twitter Resources:

A collection of narratives about how Twitter has allowed successful collaboration


http://onlinefacilitation.wikispaces.com/Twitter+Collaboration+Stories

Five resources for how to use Twitter in education for both secondary school and higher
education
http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2008/twitter-for-academia/
http://tbarrett.edublogs.org/2008/03/29/twitter-a-teaching-and-learning-tool/
http://integratingtechnology.edublogs.org/2008/06/03/the-twittering-teacher/
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2008/09/13/explaining-the-value-of-microblogging-and-
twitter-for-educators/
http://flexknowlogy.learningfield.org/2007/12/21/twitter-as-a-tool-of-cognitive-
apprenticeship/
http://injenuity.com/archives/33 why twitter is important for education

Two resources elaborating on style and etiquette as well as the conventions used in Twitter

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http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Groups (how conventions are established)
http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/twitter-style-guide.aspx

Two lists of educators from all sectors classified according to area of work
http://twitter4teachers.pbwiki.com/
http://plurk4educators.pbwiki.com/

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APPENDIX 2: EXAMPLE OF LIVE-TWEETING A CONFERENCE FOR
EDUCATORS AND REFLECTION

77 tweets for the conference by Amanda Rablin* (listed in reverse chronological order)

ackygirl : do we ask kids what they think about learning and ICT? #acec08 LF 2008-10-02
02:16:33 Reply
ackygirl : & that the cross curricula priority doc on ICT in QCAR is a more relevant
interpretation of the national ICT statements... #acec08 2008-10-02 02:01:28 Reply
ackygirl : interesting & great that there has been a progression from tools based standards to
learning/pedagogy based ones... #acec08 2008-10-02 01:30:59 Reply
ackygirl : Janet Cochrane sharing the ICT PD Framework from EQ #acec08 LF 2008-10-02
01:26:58 Reply
ackygirl: Watching @jomcleay share the secret life of bees wiki created by her students :-)
#acec08 LF 2008-10-02 00:27:18 Reply
ackygirl: need to have examples, stories and resources for teachers to connect what the
standards mean #acec08 2008-10-01 23:53:01 Reply
ackygirl: Lesley from ISTE is presenting about the processes for creating the new ISTE
standards #acec08 2008-10-01 23:45:31 Reply
ackygirl: ability to support flexible pedagogy and creativity like the ISTE standards #acec08
LF 2008-10-01 23:29:02 Reply
ackygirl: in leadership forum for #acec08 I'll share discussion topics and questions for your
feedback 2008-10-01 22:58:45 Reply
ackygirl: random tool 4 mac winner fail! #acec08 2008-10-01 22:00:05 Reply
ackygirl: music over speaker fail! #acec08 2008-10-01 21:56:42 Reply
ackygirl : Research is not an either/or contest we need research to hit both teachers and
government #acec08 2008-10-01 21:12:46 Reply
ackygirl : just had my rant on the panel... Will post summary during mt #acec08 2008-10-01
21:00:48 Reply
ackygirl : some say we ed research lacks rigour, perspective, inconsistent and not well
communicated to teachers #acec08 2008-10-01 20:29:24 Reply
ackygirl : shameless promotion! Come to the research panel discuss in main theatre next
#acec08 2008-10- 1 20:13:58 Reply
ackygirl : 5 themes from superintendants: 21c skills; pedagogy; PD; leadership and
communications; new ideas for assessment #acec08 #Kruger 2008-10-01 19:56:36 Reply
ackygirl : challenging superintendants to reflect on what their role is and tech and pedagogy
emerged rather than being specified #acec08 2008-10-01 19:54:26 Reply

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ackygirl : Obama uses 'innovation' when talking about tech in schools... McCain is 'aware of
the Internet' but doesn't use it... #acec08 2008-10-01 19:46:02 Reply
ackygirl : 3 Waves of ed tech in schools. 1- infrastructure; 2- use and support (admin focus);
3- Transformative application of tech. #acec08 #Kruger 2008-10-01 19:36:53 Reply
ackygirl : giving a child a computer doesn't automatically make a difference... #acec08 2008-
10-01 03:18:10 Reply
ackygirl : using applications isn't as powerful as programming them #acec08 2008-10-01
03:13:25 Reply
ackygirl : how do we build things from the child up and not from system, admin or gov
perspectives #acec08 2008-10-01 03:11:40 Reply
ackygirl : Papert's vision is computers for learners and putting learners at the centre of their
learning #acec08 @garystager 2008-10-01 03:09:40 Reply
ackygirl : computers are like mudpies you can use them to create anything - Papert through
@garystager #acec08 2008-10-01 03:03:12 Reply
ackygirl : society has moved very fast and schools have moved sluggishly -Papert 2000
#acec08 2008-10-01 03:01:04 Reply
ackygirl : watching video of Papert talking to those in Maine in 2000 :-) #acec08 2008-10-01
02:59:34 Reply
ackygirl : @Steve_Collis and the great work in his classroom talked up by @garystager
#acec08 2008-10-01 02:57:38 Reply
ackygirl : @garystager predicts papert's response to Gillard... Access to tech good the rest 'No
no no no no!!' #acec08 2008-10-01 02:53:57 Reply
ackygirl : LOL tweet spelling fail by me... Http://stager.org/acec2008 #acec08 2008-10-01
02:50:15 Reply
ackygirl : http://stager.org/2008 Papert Matters presentation #acec08 2008-10-01 02:47:3
ackygirl : so many issues with remote schools and communities in WA and NT getting access
to decent broadband - needed for the 'revolution' #acec08 2008-10-01 02:25:14 Reply
ackygirl : discussing use of elluminate http://elluminate.com/ in schools... it can be difficult
for remote schools with dodgy connectivity #acec08 2008-10-01 02:15:44 Reply
ackygirl : in session about telecentres and using web collaboration for professional learning
#acec08 2008-10-01 02:07:26 Reply
ackygirl : sessions at #ACEC08 seem to be higher percentage of academc papers rather than
teacher and schools sharing practice... 2008-10-01 02:06:22 Reply
ackygirl : @laurenogrady major cupcake guard FAIL at #acec08 you can't eat a white iced
cupcake til the lemon merranges are gone WTF? 2008-10-01 01:38:29 Reply
ackygirl : knowledge creation pedagogy= self managed (by students) #acec08 2008-10-01
01:05:58 Reply
ackygirl : tech literacy level ped= integrate tech #acec08 2008-10-01 01:03:48 Reply

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ackygirl : it's easier to change curriculum than to change pedagogy... Yet pedagogy makes the
greatest difference... Emma Heffernan #acec08 2008-10-01 01:01:46 Reply
ackygirl : minimum standards from ed qld in 2001 didn't work.. Focus on skills instead of
pedagogy #acec08 2008-10-01 00:59:53 Reply
ackygirl : digtial pedagogies as part of 'rocketship metaphor' for smart state learners #acec08
2008-10-01 00:58:05 Reply
ackygirl : reframing the learning landscape session... (should have trade marked the 'learning
landscapes' brand) #acec08 2008-10-01 00:56:40 Reply
ackygirl : Q - why are ed and non-ed online communities different? #acec08 2008-10-01
00:41:57 Reply
ackygirl : Ed communities often underestimate the need for private and small group
interaction #acec08 2008-10-01 00:38:42 Reply
ackygirl : core conditions for COP include people, common ties, social interaction, place...
More details in Bronwyn's paper #acec08 2008-10-01 00:30:10 Reply
ackygirl : formal communities work better for academic and research communities...
Interesting reflection... But does that have to be so? #acec08 2008-10-01 00:27:34 Reply
ackygirl : http://webheadsinaction.org more organic online community #acec08 2008-10-01
00:22:32 Reply
ackygirl : communities of practice aren't just about common interests... Need to be practical
and people driven #acec08 2008-10-01 00:07:17 Reply
ackygirl : creating an online community is about more than setting up tools.. ppl are v
important #acec08 bronwyn stuckey 2008-10-01 00:04:41 Reply
ackygirl : LOL it was recommended we put our laptops away and listen for 15 mins... LOL
#acec08 2008-10-01 00:01:57 Reply
ackygirl : @patrickgwagner will also be presenting at QSITE event on 13 Oct in Brisbane
#acec08 see http://www.qsite.edu.au/eve... 2008-09-30 23:16:45 Reply
ackygirl : google apps to support 'organisation' and 'instruction'.. Jumping straight to
instruction can be scary for teachers #acec08 @patrickgwagner 2008-09-30 23:12:11 Reply
ackygirl : Really impressive from no tech to innovative google apps use with
@PatrickGWagner in swan room #acec08 2008-09-30 22:55:04 Reply
ackygirl : WIN! Julia Gillard the prompt politician #acec08 2008-09-30 22:08:03 Reply
ackygirl : WIN for all choose your own keynotes... Mathew Rimmer copyright & Margaret
Cox on digital tech and pedagogy #acec08 2008-09-30 21:29:27 Reply
ackygirl : Retweeting @murcha: quote from Margaret Cox need to organize the thinking and
not just the layout of classroom". #acec08 2008-09-30 21:28:16 Reply
ackygirl : WIN for choose your own keynote presentation digital tech in dental ed... #acec08
2008-09-30 21:06:45 Reply

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ackygirl : digital technologies in dental education or copyright and rudd's computers... What
to choose #acec08 2008-09-30 20:15:30 Reply
ackygirl : low battery message on keynote laptop... Imminant power fail #acec08 2008-09-30
19:44:47 Reply
ackygirl : niche for making corporate text into pictures and movies... Quick change
professions... #acec08 2008-09-30 19:43:05 Reply
ackygirl : web conferencing from a boat with a dolphin expert to a classroom is pretty cool
#acec08 2008-09-30 19:29:00 Reply
ackygirl : Understanding context is critical when creating online learning 4 remote schools
#acec08 2008-09-30 19:20:37 Reply
ackygirl : catering, teaching and boats... Hopefully ICT soon too #acec08 2008-09-30
19:14:29 Reply
ackygirl : keynote with Liz Murphy #acec08 2008-09-30 19:11:23 Reply
ackygirl : anyone have spare dinner ticket for the conference dinner? #acec08 2008-09-30
19:06:40 Reply
ackygirl : WIN! Cybersafety presentation #ACEC08 and @ or d me for other ACEC WINS
(to rival the FAIL tweets) 2008-09-30 02:59:36 Reply
ackygirl : off to meet the ACCE study tour 2008 peeps at the ACCE stand #acec08 2008-09-
29 22:57:05 Reply
ackygirl : how do we move to a more transformative approach to transforming learning with
ICT in pre-service teacher education? #acec08 2008-09-29 22:42:00 Reply
ackygirl : transforming ICT presenter is using the same imagine->play->create->share-
>reflect->imagine process too #acec08 2008-09-29 22:22:49 Reply
ackygirl : How lecturers want to use a system usually isn't how students want to learn.
Perhaps the pedagogies need to challenge the system #acec08 2008-09- 9 22:02:26 Reply
ackygirl : often plaes choose learning management/elearning systems which have the most
functionalities but most options don't get used #acec08 2008-09-29 21:40:14 Reply
ackygirl : at the critical functionalities or elearning systems presentation #acec08 2008-09-29
21:33:45 Reply
ackygirl : #acec08 really recommend the study tour to necc. I went this year and it was
amazing. With a great group of educators too! 2008-09-29 21:01:34 Reply
ackygirl : keynote over now awards for papers... hopefully this will help me chose where to
go #acec08 2008-09-29 20:29:57 Reply
ackygirl : it's no longer "information society" or "knowedge society"... it's the "creative
society" #acec08 #resnick 2008-09-29 20:27:57 Reply
ackygirl : coolness - scratch to control and create objects in secondlife #acec08 #resnick :)
2008-09-29 20:24:20 Reply

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ackygirl : students reflecting on their own work and learning (in scratch) is more difficult but
there are some interesting discussion posts #acec08 2008-09-29 20:18:39 Reply
ackygirl : technologies and learning experiences should be designed with many pathways and
different ways of using, learning and being creative #acec08 2008-09-29 19:52:44 Reply

REFLECTION ON THE LIVE-TWEETING by John Pearce*

From: http://johnp.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/acec-2008-obs-continued/

# Interesting to track the use of Twitter tags #acec08. There are some 8-12 delegates, (it
fluctuates daily), using Twitter to microblog about the conference. Generally there are some
interesting reflections happening and from other tweets there are a number of followers of the
stream out there. I do wonder about the transitory nature of the conversation though and if
folks are favoriting tweets. It’s also interesting to benchmark 2 Twitter tag aggregators,
Twitscoop and Tweme. Neither pick up all the tweets together but are both interesting ideas
that help serve as a filter.
# Interesting to see how different Twitterers use the interface. @ackygirl aka Amanda using
her mobile, has been a standout in the way she has been able to distil the essence of a range
of presentations at all times maintaining the flow. The challenge is to aggregate this traffic in
a meaningful way so that a deeper reflection can be made as first impressions can be only
part of the construction.

AUTHORS

Amanda Rablin currently works as the Education Officer of Learning Management for
Brisbane Catholic Education, supporting e-learning initiatives across its 132 schools. She is
also studying a Doctorate of Education researching teacher professional learning and ICT,
and in her spare time, contributes to a variety of online communities with like-minded
educators. Amanda was voted QSITE Emerging Leader of the Year in 2005.

John Pearce is an educational consultant based in Portarlington, Victoria, Australia having


previously taught in a number of primary schools. He has also presented at a number of
conferences both nationally and internationally, is co-author of Technology Toolkit:
Introducing You to Web 2.0 and is a winner of the VITTA Teacher of the Year award.

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