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Examining the Virtual Diffusion of Educational Resources Across Teachers’ Social Networks Over Time

by Yuqing Liu, Kaitlin T. Torphy, Sihua Hu, Jiliang Tang & Zixi Chen - 2020

Context: Individuals’ curation within social media provides a window into their sensemaking and conceptions of what is worth knowing. Within education, a majority of teachers use social media for professional purposes to access and share instructional resources.

Purpose: This work examines Pinterest.com and the intersection of influence across virtual and physical spheres as teachers choose and curate instructional resources. Setting: The study is conducted on 19 schools over five districts in three Midwestern states.

Participants: The sample consists of 108 elementary teachers in total: 34 early career teachers and 74 colleagues.

Research Design: This is a longitudinal observational study designed to repeatedly measure and track teachers’ online resource-seeking behavior over 52 weeks in the 2015–2016 school year.

Data Collection and Analysis: Resource curation data were collected for each teacher, as well as early career teachers’ egocentric school network and online network data. Using generalized linear growth modeling approach to examine relationships between teachers’ curation of resources, we identify differences in the impacts of teachers’ social networks across physical and virtual space.

Findings: Results indicate that teachers following one another within Pinterest have a higher rate of curating a resource, but Pinterest seems to act as a bridge between those less connected teachers within a school, with an even greater rate of curation for those teachers who do not closely work together. This seems to indicate that within the cloud of social media, Pinterest may be a conduit for information and resource distribution across schools.

Conclusion: As schools continue to seek improvement potential, leveraging social media connections and social capital within and outside the local context may prove useful for the flow of expertise and resources.  

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 6, 2020, p. 1-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23306, Date Accessed: 5/13/2021 5:19:56 PM

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About the Author
  • Yuqing Liu
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    YUQING LIU is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the diffusion of innovation, gossip networks in organization, and the impact of students, schools, and policy contexts on teachers' online resource curation. Her recent paper, “Innovation Diffusion Within Large Environmental NGOs Through Informal Network Agents,” was published in Nature Sustainability.
  • Kaitlin Torphy
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    KAITLIN TORPHY is the lead researcher and founder of the Teachers in Social Media project at Michigan State University. She has expertise in teachers’ engagement across virtual platforms, teachers’ physical and virtual social networks, and education policy reform. She has published work on charter school impacts, curricular reform, and teachers’ social networks, and she has presented work regarding teachers’ engagement within social media at the national and international levels. Dr. Torphy earned a PhD in education policy and a specialization in the economics of education from Michigan State University in 2014 and is a Teach for America alumna and former Chicago Public Schools teacher.
  • Sihua Hu
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    SIHUA HU is a postdoctoral fellow on the COHERE project at Northwestern University. Her research examines various dimensions of teaching quality and how teaching quality is related to mathematics teachers’ social networks within physical and virtual spaces. Dr. Hu earned a PhD in mathematics education from Michigan State University and was a co-PI for an American Education Research Association conference convened in October 2018 on social media and education.
  • Jiliang Tang
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    JILIANG TANG is an assistant professor in the computer science and engineering department at Michigan State University. Before that, he was a research scientist in Yahoo Research and earned his PhD from Arizona State University in 2015. His research interests including social computing, data mining, and machine learning and their applications in education. He was the recipient of the 2019 NSF Career Award and runner-up for the 2015 KDD Best Dissertation, and he has received numerous awards for his papers from top data science conferences, including WSDM2018 and KDD2016.
  • Zixi Chen
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    ZIXI CHEN is a PhD candidate at the College of Education, Michigan State University, majoring in measurement and quantitative methods. She is interested in learning individuals' social-emotional behaviors in online space using computational social science and traditional quantitative methods.
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