A Qualitative Study of Twitter Edchat Through An Affinity Space Lens

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Kharbach, Mohamed
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Mount Saint Vincent University
We have always learned by exchanging ideas and asking questions often of the people in our vicinity; now with the rise of the social web the potential of learning socially is huge. Social media platforms such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and social networking sites have enabled people to connect and learn in ways never imagined before. The echo of this social learning revolution has been widely felt within the field of education. Educators are presently in a better position to grow professionally and learn collaboratively on a global scale using different virtual learning environments. The purpose of this research is to study one of these learning environments called Edchat and explore its inner workings in terms of the content generated within it and the interactions participants engage in while using it. To this end, Gee's affinity space conception has been used as an underlying theoretical framework. More specifically, this study focuses on the three defining elements of affinity space: generator, portal, and content. Using qualitative content analysis and drawing on the coding frame built for this research, Edchat is proved to be a strong generator of content that spans different themes and topics. This generation of content comes through the enactment of various socially situated roles participants take up while interacting with each other.
Social media - education , Virtual learning environments , Edchat