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Professional learning and social media

Research project
Avslutad forskning
Project period
2015 - 2018
Project owner
Department of education, communication and learning

Short description

Teachers are increasingly particpating in social media to discuss their teaching and instructional issues in relation to IT. The question is what support for professional learning such discussions in forums such as thematic groups on Facebook offer over time. Based on advanced data analysis, in this project we scrutinize the role of social media for teachers’ professional learning.

About the research project

Investment in technology in Swedish schools has been substantial in recent years. However, unlike many other European countries, spending on IT in Sweden has not been matched with investment in teacher professional development. With this background, Swedish teachers have had limited opportunity to develop or influence the use of IT in schools.

It is in light of the current state of IT use in schools that the recent emergence of teacher initiated, Internet based discussions about IT and school development is rendered particularly interesting. This national and international phenomenon is taking place through social media and engages teachers outside the traditional professional development structures. In these new social forums, teachers are sharing ideas and methods for improving teaching practice and creating opportunities for collegial and professional learning. Using advanced computational methods in this project, we have studied three years of activity in a large thematic Facebook-group.

The goal of this project is to study the growing phenomenon of teacher engagement in professional learning outside the traditional structures of professional development. By adopting an innovative research focus to analyze teachers’ professional learning, the project contributes to both IT and school development. The project focuses on informal professional development through the example of one rapidly growing instructional practice that is centered on the use of digital technologies. Thematic FB-groups are a clear example of spaces where ideas are spread by teachers on social media and as such are an important case for understanding the development of pedagogical ideas in relation to IT as well as professional learning in social media. Given its practice oriented focus, a core goal for this project is to communicate the instructional and professional implications of our results directly to teachers through contributions to teacher education, professional development and professional publications.

The project has been reviewed and approved by the Ethical Review Board in Gothenburg (2015-03-19).

Articles

Lantz-Andersson, A., Peterson, L., Hillman, T., Lundin, M., & Rensfeldt, A. B. (2017). Sharing repertoires in a teacher professional Facebook group. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction