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Keywords:

  • Online participation;
  • online social networks;
  • digital scholarship;
  • social networking sites;
  • Twitter;
  • higher education

Abstract

Scholars participate in online social networks for professional purposes. In such networks, learning takes the form of participation and identity formation through engagement in and contribution to networked practices. While current literature describes the possible benefits of online participation, empirical research on scholars' use of online social networks in the educational technology literature is negligible. The purpose of this paper is to understand scholars' naturalistic practices in social networks in general, and on Twitter in particular. Tweets from 45 scholars were analysed qualitatively to arrive at dominant themes describing online social network practice. Findings indicate that scholars participating on Twitter (1) shared information, resources, and media relating to their professional practice; (2) shared information about their classroom and their students; (3) requested assistance from and offered suggestions to others; (4) engaged in social commentary; (5) engaged in digital identity and impression management; (6) sought to network and make connections with others; and (7) highlighted their participation in online networks other than Twitter. These findings assist the field in understanding the emerging practice of scholarly participation in online networks.