Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nicholas Sauers

Second Advisor

Jami Berry

Third Advisor

Lisa Eickholdt

Abstract

Background: Despite its potential, little is known about how school leaders use social media or the benefits of doing so. This includes the social media platform, Twitter, and the grass-roots phenomenon of using Twitter chats to connect, communicate, and learn from others. Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore whether school leaders who engage in Twitter chats show key characteristics of a community of practice. Literature Review: The purpose of the literature review was to provide background knowledge on communities of practice, social media, and their combined potential for providing school leaders with viable ways to improve their leadership practices. Research Design: A qualitative research design, based on a research approach of qualitative content analysis, directed this study. The theoretical framework was based upon two theories of social learning: communities of practice and connectivism. Data Collection and Analysis: Based on the data collected from an analysis of school leaders’ tweets during an educational Twitter chat, a content analysis revealed two key themes with implications for school leaders. Results: Following the analysis of 1, 741 leader tweets, two primary themes were uncovered in this research, both of which provided an answer to the central research question of the study. First, the structure and content of #satchat shows the presence of the main elements of a community of practice. Second, activities indicative of a community of practice, such as problem solving, seeking experience and mapping knowledge were also evident. Conclusion: Twitter provides an opportunity for school leaders to join a community of practice that enables them to learn from each other and exchange ideas that support their professional growth. As participants share their expertise, they are able to drive strategy, solve problems, and transfer best practices. These findings might be of particular interest to busy school leaders with limited time and resources to invest in their own professional learning.

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