Doctoral Programme in Education and ICT (e-learning)

Author: Maria Macià Golobardes
Programme: Doctoral Programme in Education and ICT (e-learning)
Language: English, Catalan
Supervisors: Dr. Iolanda García González
Faculty / Institute: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. 

Key words: Social networking sites, online communities, teacher's professional development, informal learning, Twitter

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Informal online communities and networks offer teachers opportunities to share learning experiences, reflect on teaching practices, and find emotional support. In this thesis we used a mixed methods research design to explore this topic. The organization of the thesis relates to three research phases. The first phase consisted of a thorough and extensive literature review to analyse existing theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches, the main characteristics and practices of online communities and networks, and their repercussions on teachers' professional development. In the second phase we selected several teacher communities in order to better understand the connection between the participants and the networks that they established, particularly on Twitter. Then we analysed the role that Twitter played in their activity within their community, especially in relation with peer production. In the third phase we explored how 'bridging teachers' used Twitter and whether this use resulted in better outcomes in their educational practices.