Day 6 #100DaysOfWriting – What is my Research is about?

Some info on the bones of my research

I am doing qualitative research where I am trying to better understand how higher education professionals use the social networking service Twitter for professional learning. Higher education professionals have many professional responsibilities for which they need to keep up-to-date but the aspect professional learning that I am focusing on is learning towards teaching and learning practices.

My interest was sparked on this topic when I noticed many academics using Twitter as a means to keep uptodate and collaborate with other professionals.  Some initial conversations with academic colleagues highlighted that Twitter was important to some  as a tool for professional learning.

Also recent literature (Slowey et al, 2014) reports that openings for informal peer exchange and more non-formal approaches are needed towards the development of teaching and learning practices in Irish higher education. More generally Hart (2015) and Gerstein (2011) claim that Twitter is a professional learning tool and there are requests made for deep and rich qualitative research to be carried out on the use of social networking within higher education (Lupton 2014). A combination of these factors motivated me to carry out this research, to explore how higher education professionals use Twitter for learning.

The following research questions will frame this exploratory research:

  1. What are the activities of Irish higher education professionals using the social networking service Twitter?
  2. How are activities on the social networking service Twitter supporting the learning of these higher education professionals?
  3. What are the barriers and enablers that exist to these higher education professionals in engaging in online activities on Twitter?

Using a case study approach I intend to go deeper than previous researchers and generate rich data and descriptions to explain, illustrate and enlighten how Twitter is used by professionals in higher education for learning (Yin K. , 2014).


About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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2 Responses to Day 6 #100DaysOfWriting – What is my Research is about?

  1. Hi Muireann,

    It sounds like we might share interests. I too am exploring professional learning through Twitter, though predominantly of teachers in the primary and secondary sector. Some of the references in this post sound interesting; would you by any chance be able to share the full refs? (Is it Jane Hart & Jackie Gerstein by any chance?)

    Kind regards,


    • Thanks Ian, Yes indeed similar interests… Hart, Gerstein, are only literature that I found​ pre-2015 on the topic. Think I have seen a few more papers in 2015 about prof learning and twitter, but not using them in my it review…as did the research before those publications. I will trawl through my stuff tomorrow​ and send you on anything useful 🙂

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