Mathematics Teaching Related Interactions on Social Media

Goal: Exploring interactions that occur in relation to issues of mathematics teaching within social media contexts.

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Judy Larsen
added a research item
The rise of social media has afforded new opportunities for professional activity around mathematics teaching. Thousands of users are posting publicly about their experiences with mathematics teaching on an ongoing basis at an unprecedented scale in an unprompted, unfunded, and unmandated setting. Given the challenges around engendering sustainable professional development, informal professional activity, such as that found within a social media setting, is worthy of investigation. This study explores features of one such setting, with a specific focus on the underlying social structure that supports ongoing engagement. To this end, various social locations in this structure are defined and characterized, and modes of engagement in locations are found to vary according to social responsibility and ideational alignment.
Judy Larsen
added 2 research items
Mathematics educators are engaging in an online community referred to as the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS) to support their practices. Although studies indicate that educators who participate in professional online communities engage primarily in sharing and consuming resources, and in some cases also in building and maintaining professional relationships, it is unclear how they interpret these opportunities. This study explores the community building activities mathematics educators refer to when speaking about their engagement in the MTBoS and unpacks ways in which they value and establish value in the activities they refer to. Findings indicate that members of the MTBoS community refer to identifying and selecting resources frequently, that they value resources that are inspiring, relevant, and reliable, and that they establish values through identifying resources with attributes of specificity, like-mindedness, credibility, and through repeated exposure over time.
Professional activity around mathematics teaching is considered vital in the improvement of mathematics education at all levels. Research in mathematics education has identified aspects of teacher professional development that are effective, but there has been a recent push for better understanding how mathematics teacher professional development can also be sustainable. To this end, informal professional activity around mathematics teaching has become of particular interest in the field. Since many education professionals are turning to resources that are becoming increasingly available beyond the confines of institutional boundaries, such as via social media, many of the constraints of traditional forms of professional activity are being bypassed, allowing for informal professional activity to flourish. In some cases, collectives of professionals have formed in such contexts. One such collective, referred to as the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS), has remained resilient for almost ten years with ongoing activity around mathematics teaching occurring daily. Although this self-organized, bottom-up, emergent collective thrives with engagement around mathematics teaching, it has received very little empirical attention within mathematics education. As such, this study investigates the inner workings of this collective by drawing on tenets of complexity thinking to develop a more comprehensive description of its nature and how it thrives. Informed by an ethnographic journey of becoming a MTBoS participant, I select and analyze data in innovative ways to uncover both the ideational network in MTBoS and the social network that drives its existence. Analysis of these networks illuminates the influence not only of social capital, but also of ideational capital, both of which are necessary for determining ideational resilience within the collective. The results of this research indicate not only the popular topics within MTBoS, but also more importantly, features that drive ongoing and often generative activity around mathematics teaching within this online, unprompted, unfunded and unmandated professional setting.
Judy Larsen
added 3 research items
Many mathematics teachers around the world are engaging autonomously in the practice of blogging, where teachers write publicly about their teaching experiences. Investigating this phenomenon may illuminate aspects of mathematics teachers' daily practice for which blogging serves a purpose. Such aspects may be useful for the mathematics education community in its efforts to improve mathematics teaching. With the global aim of investigating the teacher blogging phenomenon, this preliminary investigation attempts to characterize particular ways in which mathematics teachers blog by using a grounded theory approach. The resulting categorization of ways in which teachers blog may prove useful as a mechanism for identifying roles of various bloggers in the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS) in further studies.
Many mathematics teachers engage in the practice of blogging. Although they are separated geographically, they are able to discuss teaching-related issues. In an effort to better understand the nature of these discussions, this paper presents an analysis of one particular episode of such a discussion. Wenger’s theoretical framework of communities of practice informs the analysis by providing a tool to explain the negotiation of meaning in the episode. Results indicate that the blogging medium supports continuity of discussions and can allow for the negotiation of meaning, but that a more nuanced treatment of the construct is necessary.
Stimulating sustainable mathematics teacher collaboration can be challenging in many commonly found professional development contexts. Despite this, an unprompted, unfunded, unmandated, and largely unstudied mathematics teacher community has emerged where mathematics teachers use social media to communicate about the teaching and learning of mathematics. This paper presents an analysis of one episode where teachers engage in a prolonged exchange about responding to a common mathematical error. Analytical tools drawn from complexity theory are used to explain moments of productivity. Results indicate that enough redundancy and diversity among members is necessary to make conversations productive. Identified sources of redundancy indicate the 'taken-as-shared' values of this group.
Judy Larsen
added an update
Project goal
Exploring interactions that occur in relation to issues of mathematics teaching within social media contexts.
Background and motivation
I have always wanted to see into other teachers' classrooms. When I found other mathematics teachers connecting publicly via blogs and on platforms such as Twitter, I became interested in what these sorts of interactions can afford for mathematics teachers and for mathematics education more globally. I take interests in moments of generativity, when new products and ideas are negotiated, as well as aspects of the digital environment that may hamper this from occurring. In the process of learning to navigate this environment, I have incrementally become immersed in the environment, which allows me to view the phenomenon from a unique perspective.