Leeds Beckett University
MoreThanJustAChat_TREMAYNE.pdf (5.49 MB)

More than just a chat? Online teacher-learning communities as sites for professional learning and teacher agency

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posted on 2022-06-15, 14:50 authored by Diana Helen Tremayne

While large numbers of teachers engage with social media sites such as Twitter, it continues to be the case that professional learning and development is often subject to narrow interpretations which focus on the physical actions of practitioners (Evans, 2019). This research makes visible the informal learning which is often unrecognised (Eraut, 2004) as more formalised, traditional models of professional learning remain privileged in an audit culture which favours a tick box approach to continuing professional development. 

This study explores the informal and self-directed professional learning of teachers through focusing on an established weekly Twitter chat which is aimed at FE educators in the UK context. It considers how their participation in the chat supports professional learning and the development of teacher agency. A netnographic approach is taken to the study which uses multiple methods in order to provide both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ perspectives on the site through a combination of participant observation, social network analysis and interviews. 

The findings build on previous research by highlighting the ways in which the structure of the Twitter chat is key to providing opportunities for teachers to share resources, experiences and ideas; to make and build connections both on and beyond Twitter; and to offer and receive emotional and professional support. It contributes new knowledge by considering a Twitter chat through the lens of ecological teacher agency and providing insights into how such spaces may help to ‘grow’ both individual and collective agency as well as examining the links between teacher agency and professional learning explicitly. The methodological and ethical approach taken in the study provides a rich picture of an online teacher-learning community and foregrounds the voices of those who participate in it in ways which future studies can continue to develop.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Alison Iredale; Rachel Lofthouse

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


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