Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twitter analytics in R...and using Twitter in teaching

For this presentation, Lyndon Walker started by asking the questions who uses Twitter (nearly everyone), and who uses Twitter in their teaching (not many). He then moved on to look at different ways Twitter can be used in teaching starting with 'transmission' (e.g. reminders that appear via Blackboard directly to a student's Twitter feed), and others such as class questioning, microblogging, interaction (such as debate and discussion), and sharing of social media links.

Learning analytics, Lyndon advised, is the application of statistical analysis to learning data to enhance learning. R is free (www.r-project.org), is widely used and is well supported.

One example that was presented were usage statistics, which is basically a tweet count by user, which can be shared back with the students in various forms to discuss what they felt was going on, and in a statistics class students could work with the raw data. Slightly more complex, are networks, which enable you to map followers across the world for example. Can be a conversation starter, and this can be complemented by network graphs (who is tweeting who for instance). A third example was sentiment analysis - in other words what students are tweeting. This can bring up emerging topics, concerns and ideas, and can be helped students to reflect on what they had set out to learn, but maybe got side-tracked.

Twitter has useful teaching applications, and the data can help learners engage with Twitter on a different level.

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