Social Media and Learning – sharing my journey

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I need to collate all the projects I have carried out on social media connected to learning. I’ve worked across and in between multiple higher education sites and within the cultural heritage sites with this work for a number of years. All along, building my understanding and pedagogies, while connecting with others.  I’ve shared individual projects, but I have never brought them all together to explore the insights gained and ah-ha moments that are now non negotiables when working this way for me.

It was a Skype conversation with Jen Ross that led to this development, and nothing like a little push for a presentation to spark ideas flowing for a visit I was arranging to Edinburgh.

So moving forward 12 months and I’ve just presented my thinking on this challenge. As I shared with today’s participants in the seminar, this is the beginning of linking ideas and very much a  work in progress. The best way to be I think, as this openness allows for such wonderful rich conversations pre, during and post.

Ideas  are flowing. And I now share my slides (, and the context of the seminar with an invitation for thoughts to be shared by you.

Background to my thinking of this presentation:

There is no doubt social media platforms when used for learning have ignited much discussion.  Perspectives in regards to teachers, academics, institutions and students are discussed across many disciplines in relation to networking, communication, access to resources, assessment, branding, peer-to-peer learning, and collaboration (for example Anson & Miller-Cochran, 2009; Barczyk & Duncan, 2013; Bradshow, 2008; Briggs, 2008; Bruns & Humphreys, 2007; Conole & Alevizou, 2010; Downes, 2010; Dunlop & Lowenthal, 2009; Gettman & Cortijo, 2015; Lemon, 2013; 2014; Lemon et al., 2012; McNeill, 2009; Parker & Chao, 2007;Poore, 2012; Rodriguez, 2011).
The use of social media collapses boundaries between educators, institutions and students. The very nature of any time, and any where access, promotes the opportunity for individuals and institutions to communicate with each with much more ease. In this presentation I share experiences from multiple research projects where social media was central to learning. Fundamental to all these projects is the formation of a digital identity, mutual respect, sharing and curating of practices, peer-to-peer learning, and visibility of learning. Underpinned by this use and engagement is a reciprocity that is supported by ongoing digital participation that is boundary-less in time and geographical location.
Social media promotes a participatory culture whereby there is support in the construction and development of a networked environment through which what becomes visible is “a shift from matters of fact, to matters of concern or matters of interest as the various agendas and opinions are brought together through networks” (Latour, 2005, p.5). When we all see ourselves as learners, no matter our roles or experience, in the online space of social media platforms we open up mindful practices, new relationships, and exploration of knowledge that are facilitated by the virtual.
As we make sense of social media use for learning in, across and with Higher Education and the cultural heritage sector, research findings from a number of projects will be shared including:
  • #MuseumEdOz – a Twitter community for museum educators and teachers to engage with other facilitating socially distributed meaning making.
  • Cultivating social media use with GLAM educators – an interview project investigating use of social media accounts specifically for cultural heritage educators.
  • #visarts12 and #visart13 – where pre-service teachers who were invited to engage with Twitter as part of their visual arts studies.
  • #ConnectedLearning – an innovative project in partnership with an Australian higher education institution, Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, and the National Gallery of Victoria whereby pre-service teachers engaged with social media (Pinterest, Twitter and blog) during a subject with museum educators on and off site.
  • Community Professional Experience – a project that involved pre-service teachers blogging with a Museum educator while undertaking Professional Experience as part of an initial teacher education degree.
  • #AcademicsWhoTweet – an interview project understanding how academics use Twitter in their higher education careers across learning and teaching, research, scholarship and leadership.
A discussion critically framing the notion of digital interaction through Tim Ingold’s lines, intersections and meshworks (2015) is presented. The data from multiple projects is explored through the entanglement of lines by:
  • Hook up
  • Digital becoming
  • Visibility
  • Reciprocity
  • Co-curation of knowledge

How social media enables meaning making to be socially distributed (Rowe, 2002) is illuminated whereby the emergent participatory culture offers abundant advantages for ongoing learning with like-minded individuals, new partnerships, collaborative problem solving, and the development of a more empowered sense of citizenship (Trembach & Deng, 2015).

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