As I have advanced in my PhD studies one potential free resource for data gathering has been Twitter. I use Twitter for professional uses and as such fall more under the "stalking side", in that I follow people who I have greater knowledge in certain subjects. People who post about things that I want to learn more about or that I feel I can use for educational purposes. Plus the whole being able to search for something via its hashtag, or pound sign for those of us who are older, is a research gold mine. This form of micro-blogging where the number of letters or words you can use constricts the Twitter authors Tweet into what really matters the most. If it is retweeted or liked by others then you know it has struck a cord is of importance to them in some way or another. You can't easily quantify or measure what exactly that importance is and that is where the qualitative analysis needs to be utilized. The extent to which Twitter is now used in things like politics, marketing, social presences is something that intrigues me and I want to see if I can use it to discover if their is belief or feeling if you will about the use of simulation based training in education, CTE specifically. What way do they think SBT and education can be used? What impact do they think it will have, be it positive or negative? What does the public think are pros or cons of using SBT in educational settings? Are there differences in how vendors, teachers, students, parents feelings towards the use of SBT in educational settings?
In my nativity I thought gathering Tweets by subject or hashtag would be easy. I quickly learned otherwise. By the way there are many companies who all they do is data mine Twitter and get paid quite well to do this. I can understand why as getting the coding to run in the online tutorials I found for Python, Tweepy, Twurl, Ruby, R studio just never worked for me. I can see why a company would pay others to mine the data and provide them with an analysis report. It's not as easy as you and I thought. Since I am a student and educator, paying for this just wasn't in my budget and goes against my "I can do this" attitude. So I spent 20+ hours researching ways to just get data, not even beginning to study that data. I finally found in my searching https://birdiq.net/twitter-search/, which allows you to pull up search topic and then export it to Excel for further cleaning up and analysis into programs like SPSS, after you code the data. All the other ones I found would only go back 7-10 days, I wanted to get at least a years worth of these in hopes that I can find if there are any trends on how SBT is being viewed.
I am currently in the process of coding data according to the search terms, if it was made by vendor, educator, parent, or student. Was it retweeted or a retweet. If it's a RT go back to the original tweet and find out how often it was RT. Then I can analyze the actual tweets to see what qualitative data I can find, which I know will actually take the most time and I need to find a fellow PhD student who is interested in this same data, so that we can both study it and compare our findings to ensure reliability. Hopefully in this class I will find that person.
PS: If you are looking for just some data visualization tools about what is being Tweeted recently, you can use these tools. They don't export but they will allow copy/paste or print to PDF for use.
Post #2: What I learned about CMDA from the assigned readings & class discussion.
I guess that I already knew that most online interactions take place by using text. After all nowadays people text more than they call. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc...often use a photo and then text explanation or message. So that part didn't really surprise me and makes sense to me the we need to have study approach or research style such as Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis because this is how we can access or ensure that communication happens that leads to knowledge gained or relationship being built. What stood out the most to me was the reminder that "text can only tell us what people do", that we shouldn't use it as a way to measure who that person fells or thinks. Unless of course they specifically say I fell XYZ because of 123 (Herring, 2004).
Also for me "grounding' or how the online group finds a common ground that allows them to effectively communicate with each other. In face to face environments we can use face and body language that lets us know how it is going (Paulus, 2007). Online we don't have that unless it's a video conference, perhaps this is why we had the birth of emojis? Just an point to ponder.
Interesting to me is that to have a good CMDA research question it shares the same four main characteristics as a good qualitative one:
1- Empirically measurable for data: That the text evidence provides examples of when this happens. The example is you can measure how often jokes where told but you can't measure if they were having fun.
2- Isn't trivial: It shouldn't be something that is already known or proven as fact and it should be beneficial or something that others also would want to learn more about.
3- Motivated by hypothesis: The question shouldn't be worded so that the answer is already given. Often the researchers has a hunch about something and this should be used to drive the hypothesis.
4- Is open ended: These are not questions than can be answered by a simple yes or no. It should be more of the what, why, when, where, who, how style.
Lastly temporal sampling over a time period, preferably at least a year, will result in some observations that can be made about these interactions made by the same people/group or person over a period of time. Allowing to observe if changes happen or not.
What this has done for me is helped me to realize that I need to study the frequency that simulation based training is mentioned on Twitter by how often tagged in education, STEM, and then CTE. Track if it is from an individual or company marketing product, individual are better for me to study because they aren't trying to sell a product. Then finally if it's well received by others. If it gets retweeted or liked by others I can use that to measure that it had a positive reaction with people on Twitter.
Herring, Susan. (2004). Computer-mediated discourse analysis: an approach to researching online communities. Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning. 316-338.
Paulus, T. M. (2007). Online but off-topic: negotiating common ground in small learning groups. Instructional
Science, 37(3), 227-245. doi:10.1007/s11251-007-9042-5
Post #1: What is my personal view of research?
a. What is my general worldview in terms of what I think can be known, why that is the case, and how we can best understand the world?
The statement "the more I learn, the less I know" is so very accurate. Just because I think I know the answer or correct way, doesn't mean that it's the only or even the best way. I've learned to listen and build relationships first, so that I understand where the other persons perspective because when I do this, I always learn something new. I know that I need to be open to learning and new experiences, if I am ever going to be able to help others.
b. What is research to me? What is its purpose? Do I prefer numbers or narratives or both?
Research is a way to gain and then share knowledge. I may have an idea or what I think the outcome will be, research is needed to prove or disprove this. Honestly the majority of my career numbers have been what I prefer because they are easy to understand, they don't change no matter your language, culture, etc.. However, after 23 years in education I have learned that I need to know more than just the number. I need to understand the background, the why, the how so that the numbers have a deeper meaning.
c. What is your main focus in terms of what you are planning for future research? Are you higher ed, K-12, corporate, or other? Are you looking to switch your focus to a new setting?
To be honest I'm still not 100% sure what my focus is going to be on. It depends on where my career takes me in these next few months. I'm finding that I more invested in the doing or practitioner part of education than I am in research. The thought of constantly researching and writing doesn't equal as much joy as when I help a someone transform into a teacher or conquer a new skill that they couldn't do before. I know that we don't have enough teachers and our students suffer because of this. Why I'm drawn so to simulation based training/AR/VR so much. I see it as being a tool that can bring more chances for learning to others who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to learn it. I also see it as a need because of the safety issues that are faced in many lab based courses and in industry. I taught wood and metal "shop" to grades 7-12 for seven years. As a teacher I wish I had such a way to allow my students to practice a skill without worrying that if they make a mistake they cut off something or blow up something. I then moved to HS engineering and graphic design for twelve years where I had students struggle with learning concepts that when I could get them access to a 3D model of it = they got it. These last four years I have been in higher education as an instructional designer for online courses. Where I have seen the need. For me I only know that I strongly believe simulation based training has the potential to help so many learn new things.