Department of Statistics Unitmark
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Analysis of a Web-based Network of Educators

Publication Date

December, 2009

Publication Type

Tech Report

Author(s)

April Galyardt, Turadg Aleahmad, Stephen Fienberg, Brian Junker and Steve Hargadon

Abstract

Online tools, including social networks, are becoming more prevalent in teacher support and professional development. However, little is known about how existing online communities of educators function. If online social networks are to be used as part of ongoing teacher development, training or support, we must better understand successful networks and their participants. We present an analysis of Classroom 2.0, an established, active and growing community dedicated to helping teachers incorporate web 2.0 technologies into their classrooms. Web 2.0 technologies are collaborative tools, such as wikis, blogs, and podcasts that allow users to share content and/or create it together.

We drew from the Communities of Practice literature to explore the structure of ties and the content of interactions between members. Latent Dirichlet Allocation was used to analyze the content of network interactions, and ego networks were used to characterize patterns of interaction. We found two separate sub-communities within Classroom 2.0, one dedicated toward substantive discussions of education and technology, the other dedicated toward forming relationships with new colleagues.