Earlier this semester, I conducted research into why and how students and educators use Twitter to communicate. It started from the idea that students either love it or hate it – I fell somewhere in the middle, so I was curious.
A lot of papers have been written on why teachers are putting Twitter in their classroom, or more broadly, why Twitter is being used in high schools. However, I couldn’t find any data about why university students and their educators are using Twitter, especially within a communications degree. This left me with a gap which is exactly where my research fits in. One difficult aspect of this task was that I was left with so much outdated, irrelevant, or unreliable previous research. Though I needed a gap in knowledge, it felt like I didn’t have enough sources to reference or quote.
I decided that conducting an anonymous survey would be easiest – BCM212 students have to be on there anyway, so they would definitely have an opinion on the topic. One concern I have is that people purposefully messed up my survey. For example, 100% of participants said they used Twitter for BCM212 in one of my first questions. However, when given a list of reasons they use Twitter and asking them to select all that apply, only 57% of users said they used Twitter for BCM212, and only 91% said they used Twitter for their Communications degree. Though fault partly goes to me for basically asking the same question twice, it was inconvenient and annoying, making me second-guess myself.
The interviews were more successful. I managed to receive a range of different responses which led me to my conclusion: that Twitter is convenient, so students enjoy using it when they aren’t forced to.
My largest issue is working with educators. I spoke to my tutor who said I couldn’t speak to BCM212 educators/tutors/coordinators in regards to this research. Unfortunately, this left me a little stuck. I continued on nonetheless, as the student opinions are as important as the intent behind the decisions. Due to this set-back, I was taken further away from the students-educators-across the world communication realm and was led to where we ended up.
In hindsight, I would’ve restructured my survey questions had I known how my interviews would take shape, and I would’ve began from a different spot if I had known that I couldn’t talk to tutors.