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THE ROLE OF TWITTER IN THE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OF IRISH PRIMARY TEACHERS

C. Reynolds1, K. Johnston2

1Scoil Bhríde, Croghan, Co. Offaly (IRELAND)
2Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin (IRELAND)
This paper investigates the potential role of Twitter in the context of Continuing Professional Development for Irish primary teachers. It complements and builds on the work of Noble, McQuillan & Littenberg-Tobias (2016) who explored teachers’ use of Twitter as an alternative source of professional learning by providing related research in the Irish context.

During the course of this study, over 80 Irish primary school teachers’ experiences of Twitter in the context of CPD were examined, through the use of an online survey and subsequent interviews. The research examined whether or not Irish primary teachers perceived their use of Twitter to be a form of CPD, the purposes teachers used Twitter for in the context of CPD, the benefits and limitations associated with such use and, finally, the feasibility of accreditation of informal learning which takes place on Twitter.

The data showed that Twitter plays a valued role in the professional learning of teachers in the study. It acted as an educational tool which allowed them to develop a professional learning network (PLN) tailored to their individual needs; engage in dialogue with their PLN; and, access the collective knowledge of their PLN to acquire and share resources.

The study also showed that the online professional relationships established via Twitter often translated into face to face interaction at educational conferences or other similar events. One of the main benefits of using Twitter as a professional learning tool lay in its ability to connect teachers globally and to transcend geographical limitations. Recommendations that emerged from this study include the need for policies to support the use of microblogging in professional learning and the need for teacher training on how to effectively infuse informal learning on Twitter in a formal CPD portfolio.