Tag Archives: research sites

A model of discussion events on Twitter

As previously discussed here & here, I am studying two Twitter discussion events as sites of professional identity formation and development. The broad structure of the two events is broadly similar to the research process of a Tweetstorm: “an online, open brainstorm-like session via Twitter” (Sie, Bitter-Rijpkema, and Sloep 2009: 60). A Tweetstorm was described as a six stage process involving: (i) the context established by, for example, a topic briefing; (ii) questions are presented on Twitter by the event moderator organised using the specified event hashtag; (iii) answers to the questions are given as tweets by participants; (iv) these tweets are aggregated, for example, using Tweet Archivist; (v) the aggregated tweets are analysed into categories and (vi) the categories are then analysed. The outputs from a Tweetstorm are a series of core statements drawn from the knowledge of the participating experts. As such, a Tweetstorm has similarities to the processes of Delphi studies (Nworie 2011) or collaborative concept mapping (Simone, Schmid, and McEwen 2001).

The individual discussion events broadly followed the structure of a Tweetstorm. However, in these discussion events, the Tweets are not aggregated, categorised or systematically analysed. Rather, they conclude with a call for participants to identify the key points of the discussions and any actions they may take in response to the points made.

Based on the notion of the Tweetstorm, the chat events’ structure can be summarised as follows:

Figure 1: structure of the chat events

Figure 1 Sie et al



Nworie, John. 2011. “Using the Delphi Technique in Educational Technology Research.” TechTrends 55 (5) (August 11): 24–30. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0524-6.

Sie, Rory, Nino Pataraia, Eleni Boursinou, Kamakshi Rajagopal, Isobel Falconer, Marlies Bitter-rijpkema, Allison Littlejohn, and B Peter. 2013. “Goals , Motivation for , and Outcomes of Personal Learning through Networks: Results of a Tweetstorm.” Educational Technology & Society 16 (3): 59–75.

Simone, Christina De, Richard F. Schmid, and Laura A. McEwen. 2001. “Supporting the Learning Process with Collaborative Concept Mapping Using Computer-Based Communication Tools and Processes.” Educational Research and Evaluation 7 (2-3) (September 1): 263–283. doi:10.1076/edre.

On the meaning of a case study

I am currently trying to draft a research framework for my PhD and especially what might be the basic unit of analysis.

Ragin (2000) in discussing case orientated research (COR) raises the key question: a case of what is being researched? In turn, this problematises the notion of a population in COR. One approach may be for case populations can be defined by the research question which in turn highlights the interplay of population definition and causal validity. For example, using Orr’s (1996) analysis of work there may be two approaches to a COR ‘population’: (a) work as a series of employment relations and (b) work as day-to-day activities. My study is interested in work as (b) so not necessarily bounded by particular organisation specific employment relations

Howard (2002) discusses field settings as specific organisations or physical spaces but also as ‘nodal events’ that are socially significant to a community. His research focus was on a specific professional community. Maier & Thalman (2008) discuss the impacts of web 2.0 for knowledge workers in terms of deinstitutionalisation through, for example, individualisation and interaction. The implications of these arguments for case study research that focuses on informal learning practices in the workplace is that a significant proportion of such learning is supported by the individual’s own networks of contacts and trusted sources. Organisational boundaries are arguably less relevant, and access to data ‘held’ by the organisation may provide only a partial picture in the area of interest. Rather, informal learning may be better understood through a focus on ‘nodal events’ that can be seen as being interactions occurring within and between communities and/ or networks.

But this raises further issues of how to enter and/ or bound a network? What is or is not a network? Employing some aspects of Actor Network Theory, how tentative, dynamic and unstable can a series of connections be while still a network?

Howard, P.N. (2002) Network ethnography and the hypermedia organization: new media, new organizations, new methods. New Media and Society. 4 (4), 550 – 574
Maier, R. and Thalmann, S. (2008) Informal learner styles: Individuation, interaction, in-form-ation.
Orr, J.E. (1996) Talking About Machines: an ethnography of a modern job. New York: Cornell University Press
Ragin, C.C. (2000) Fuzzy-set social science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.