Twitter analytics in R…and using Twitter in teaching

For this presentation, Lyndon Walker started by asking the questions who uses Twitter (nearly everyone), and who uses Twitter in their teaching (not many). He then moved on to look at different ways Twitter can be used in teaching starting with ‘transmission’ (e.g. reminders that appear via Blackboard directly to a student’s Twitter feed), and others such as class questioning, microblogging, interaction (such as debate and discussion), and sharing of social media links.

Learning analytics, Lyndon advised, is the application of statistical analysis to learning data to enhance learning. R is free (, is widely used and is well supported.

One example that was presented were usage statistics, which is basically a tweet count by user, which can be shared back with the students in various forms to discuss what they felt was going on, and in a statistics class students could work with the raw data. Slightly more complex, are networks, which enable you to map followers across the world for example. Can be a conversation starter, and this can be complemented by network graphs (who is tweeting who for instance). A third example was sentiment analysis – in other words what students are tweeting. This can bring up emerging topics, concerns and ideas, and can be helped students to reflect on what they had set out to learn, but maybe got side-tracked.

Twitter has useful teaching applications, and the data can help learners engage with Twitter on a different level.

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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