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Digital Ent|grenz|ung in Education – Use, Potentials and Challenges of Twitter
4. Empirische Bildungsforschung, 5. Schulpädagogik, 12. Medienpädagogik, Sektion 4, Arbeitsgruppe Empirische Pädagogische Forschung, Sektion 5, Kommission Professionsforschung und Lehrerbildung, qualitativ, quantitativ, theoretisch, Englisch
Digital Ent|grenz|ung in Education – Use, Potentials and Challenges of Twitter
In the age of digitization, digital spaces (e.g., social media platforms) play an important role in overcoming existing boundaries and the increase in their use has therefore led to processes of digital Ent|grenz|ung (dissociation), even in education, which must be considered in both educational research and practice. The social media platform Twitter, which is one of the most widely used virtual spaces by individual actors and organizations, has gained increasing influence in the education sector. Twitter has the potential to dissolve boundaries between digital and analog teaching and learning, allowing for debates in digital and analog spaces and bringing together actors from the respective spheres. However, the topic has so far received little attention in the German educational research community. Therefore, the aim of this symposium is to present and discuss different approaches to analyze potentials and challenges of Twitter in education.
Beiträge des Panels
Shaping discourse through social media – Using Foucauldian discourse analysis to explore the narratives that influence education policy
In a Digimodern era (Kirby, 2009) where technology and social media are inextricably woven into our experience, Ent|grenz|ung seems to be taking place between experts in the field, policymakers, leaders, and laypersons. Twitter is one social media platform where the dissolution of boundaries among stakeholders seems to be taking place, where power and legitimation is determined by number of followers and influential connections rather than expertise. Through Twitter, users craft narratives about the world in three ways: through their own authored tweets, by sharing tweets of others, and linking to other resources. The “truth” of these narratives is irrelevant—it is that people believe these narratives to be true which is important. These narratives inform opinions, shape social consciousness (Giroux et al., 1999; Fowler, 2016) and ultimately motivate people to action. These narratives can be consequential because they influence how people understand policy, assign blame and responsibility, and determine what courses of action are possible and acceptable (Gee, 2005; Hill, 2001).
One of the ways to explore these narratives on Twitter is through Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA). This presentation highlights how FDA can be used to explore narratives around educational policy, and more specifically focuses on recent educational reforms in the United States.
Education in times of crisis – How private actors gain influence on Twitter
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to enormous societal changes worldwide and forced countries to close school. Particularly in countries with comparatively low levels of digitalization in schools, this situation opened up opportunities for private actors to gain influence in the education sector (e.g., Williamson, 2020). On social media platforms, such as Twitter, private actors face comparatively little barriers to participate in education-related debates and shape discourses (Malin & Lubienski, 2015). For this article, we draw on policy network approaches and network theory to analyze Twitter discussions around digital learning and homeschooling just before and after the decision to close schools in Germany due to the COVID-19 crisis. We use social network analysis to identify the actors involved and their influences in the issue-specific Twitter communication network. Our results indicate that the network is mainly dominated by individual education-related actors and small and medium-sized enterprises that benefit from the blurring boundaries between private and public. Furthermore, Twitter is used as a forum to promote their own products and platforms, including by globally operating companies such as Microsoft and YouTube, while public actors remain barely visible. Our findings help illustrate the different actors involved in Twitter debates about education and may contribute to a broader understanding of Twitter use in education policy.
Virtual networks as boundaryless learning spaces for teachers – How do teachers in Germany cooperate in cross-school virtual networks via Twitter and what use and costs do they see in this form of cooperation?
In the age of digitization, the (continuous) training and cooperation of teachers are important building blocks for the successful implementation of digital media in schools and classrooms (Drossel et al., 2019). With Web 2.0 and social media, teachers can now network and cooperate with each other virtually, independent of time and place, which also allows them to continue their education and training in a self-directed manner. Teachers in Germany, for example, exchange job-related information using the hashtag #twitterlehrerzimmer and interact across disciplines beyond the boundaries of their own schools, federal states and even worldwide (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014). How often teachers engage in this kind of cooperation and which advantages they attribute to it has rarely been investigated for German-speaking teachers networking via Twitter.
To address this research desideratum, this empirical paper uses data from teachers using Twitter for work-related purposes and participating in a survey in June 2019 (N=124) to investigate how often these teachers share and draw on job-related information via Twitter. Descriptive evaluation methods are also used to examine what benefits teachers perceive in Twitter collaboration for themselves and their professional learning as well for their school or students, and what costs it entails from their perspective.
Twitter, cyber-violence, and the need for a critical social media literacy in teacher education
Relying on digital tools during a global pandemic creates new educative spaces and opportunities for teaching and learning that transcend the boundaries of the physical classroom. Social media networking offers educators the ability to connect and to share new strategies and work through problems of practice (e.g., Carpenter & Krukta, 2014). While new research reports on the experiences of harassment and abuse of women scholars in higher education via social media (Veletsianos, 2018), there is little discussion in teacher education that addresses the ethical implications of using social media. This omission is of notable concern given the potential for online spaces to be unsafe. The social media site Twitter, used and promoted by educators to collaborate in professional learning networks (e.g., Carpenter & Krutka, 2015), is rife with misogyny and racial violence. Based on a systematic review on social media use in teacher education with a multi-disciplinary perspective on issues of cyber-violence, I discuss ethical implications for teacher educators who want to use Twitter as a pedagogical tool and offer a framework to develop critical social media literacy practices with students.