New publication: An investigation of State Educational Twitter Hashtags (SETHs) as affinity spaces

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source:  Spencer Greenhalgh


Last week, I mentioned an article I had worked on that is about to appear in E-Learning and Digital Media‘s upcoming special issue on Twitter and Education. What I failed to mention at the time is that it is actually one of two articles that I’ve contributed to that will be appearing in this issue.

Whereas the article I mentioned last week “zooms in” to qualitatively examine specific purposes being served by Twitter in a particular context, this one (which I worked on with Josh Rosenberg, Matt Koehler, Erica Hamilton, and Mete Akcaoglu) takes a larger-scale look at 47 Twitter hashtags that are associated with the educational communities in different states in the US. We suggest in this paper that it’s valuable to consider hashtags like these as affinity spaces, a term that was coined by James Paul Gee and that has proven very useful in our continued examination of Twitter as a space where teachers gather for professional development. The large-scale, data-driven approach that we use paints a picture of these affinity spaces as a phenomenon that is distinct from other kinds of Twitter activity, diverse in the ways that it manifests itself in different contexts, and (most importantly) worthy of further study! The “online first” version of the article is available here.

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.