"Where Do You Learn?": Tweeting to Inform Learning Space Development
Educause Quarterly Volume 32, Number 1, ISSN 1528-5324
Learning environment development has been a key part of the Academic Innovation Team's remit for a number of years at Sheffield Hallam University. Beginning with the authors' research into the impact of e-learning on the student experience in 2002--and recognizing the way e-learning influenced students' views of physical spaces--they started to look more closely at the ways in which their students and faculty use on-campus spaces, and at ways in which their environments needed to evolve. By 2007-8 a particular focus of the authors was students' use of informal learning spaces. They set out to develop an understanding of different patterns of informal learning and to examine how they can support these through effective provision of space, resources, and integrated online and face-to-face activities. In early 2008 they were looking for an innovative data-generation method to support their work. Earlier learning environment efforts had seen them use reflective learning activity diaries (document-based), photo diaries, and digital photo stories. They were keen to build on the richness of the data that these methods offered but also to exploit something relevant to today's lifestyle. At the time, one of the authors was using Twitter as part of an established and active network; the other had just started experimenting with it and was on the verge of abandoning it. What if the authors could take Twitter's "What are you doing?" prompt and instead ask "Where are you learning?" Could they get students to send tweets that would offer insights into their learning patterns, activities, and environmental triggers? The authors recruited 15 students to take part in a two-week study. Overall, Twitter exceeded the authors' expectations for this work. Although the depth and style of their participants' tweets varied greatly, most offered them much more than they had hoped for by providing lighthearted but insightful information about how their university, home, and social lives blended together. Above all, the authors were able to take a nonthreatening and decidedly nontraditional activity to engage students in university-wide planning and development. (Contains 4 endnotes.)
Aspden, E.J. & Thorpe, L.P. (2009). "Where Do You Learn?": Tweeting to Inform Learning Space Development. Educause Quarterly, 32(1),.
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