Writing is a social activity
The narrative paradigm theory argues that all human communication consists of storytelling (Fisher 1987). What this means is that we experience life as a series of stories, and like all good stories, each one must contain characters embroiled in conflicts that move along a timeline. The storyteller’s audience measures the truthfulness or authenticity of a story contextually by reflecting on shared history and culture. Twitter provides such a setting, one intended for the sharing of stories and ensuing conversation, one which can potentially engage students in a social learning environment that provides an ideal community of practice for becoming writers. Situated learning theorists contend that communities of practice shift the learning process from the cognitive to the social (Hunga & Yuenb, 2011). As a learning tool, social networking services like Twitter can enhance students’ sense of classroom community and provide an ideal community of practice that operates within and outside the classroom boundaries (Hunga & Yuenb, 2011 p. 713). Its popular appeal has created a world of storytellers. Since its inception in 2006, the Twitter microblogging social network service has enrolled more than 180,000,000 users worldwide (Dijck 2011).
Recent studies indicate that social networking services like Twitter can impact learning outcomes and increase student engagement (Heiberger and Harper, 2008; Heiberger and Loken, 2011; Rinaldo, Tapp & Laverie, 2011; Wodzicki, Schwammlein & Moskaliuk, 2012; Manion & Selfe, 2012; Kassens-Noor, 2012). Mills and Chandra (2011) discovered, “As with learning in general, microblogging establishes an active social dynamic among the participants to create an open, fluid, and continuous dialogue, for the students and teacher to quickly identify shared starting points for discussion” (p. 43). For example, Heiberger and Loken (2011), in a quasi-experimental study, found that Twitter increased interactions between student and faculty, improved cooperation among students, promoted active learning, and encouraged them to provide prompt feedback. When students find themselves engaged, they spend more time on task and even deliver a better product.
Dijck J.V. (2011). Tracing Twitter: The rise of a microblogging platform. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics. 7 (3) pp. 333–348.
Elavsky,C.M., Mislan, C. & Elasvsky, S. (2011). When talking less is more: exploring outcomes of Twitter usage in the large-lecture hall. Learning, Media and Technology. 36.3. 215-233. DOI: 10.1080/17439884.201.549828
Fisher, W. R. (1987). Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action. Columbia: University of South Carolina P.