Finding a Community of Scholars in the Twitterverse

Sometimes graduate student life is a lonely place.

Every program is different with different types of participants: commuter students, part time, full time, university employees working hard through a tuition remission program.  Unless you are very lucky, you won’t have a cohort who is supportive, geographically around, and moving at the same pace.  While I have very willing and supportive colleagues, we are all in different places in our lives and programs that makes commiserating a bit more challenging.  But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities.

One way that I am working to try and combat that isolation is through the use of Twitter to reach out to other scholars who are undergoing similar challenges and triumphs.  While I am focused on educational research, I’ve found a wonderful group of engineers, scientists, philosophers, politicial minds, and more who are all looking towards the same goal: finishing their PhD.  Through these tweets I have found comfort through the hiccups that human subjects research brings, am testing out the pomodoro technique for time management, and am finding better ways to sort through the mountain of literature for my comprehensive exam preparation.

Twitter is not just limited to its use as a one-on-one communication tool, either.  Twitter can be used as a backchannel (as AMF is testing in the course she is teaching) to relay real time information on whether or not students are “getting it” in the classroom.  Twitter can be a way to gain a crowdsourced opinion on a topic, get feedback on your teaching, and participate in group discussions (such as the #phdchat event that serves as a chat forum on Wednesdays and a stable page for archive).  The #phdchat resource has been particularly helpful as participants can share the topics they are grappling with to gain insight from other students and scholars.  For those of you who seeek to discuss, share, and refine your practice, but find yourself without a brick-and-mortar place to do so, I would highly recommend a little tweeting to help build your community and your online cohort.

[A great compilation of resources on using Twitter in the classroom can be found here.]

– SES

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4 Comments on “Finding a Community of Scholars in the Twitterverse”

  1. KRED says:

    A number of colleagues and contacts, distributed throughout the world, have often told me exactly what you say here — for keeping in contact, for picking our collective brain (crowdsourcing, basically), for comparing notes and tracking conversations, it is proving to be a very useful tool.

  2. […] 3. Leveraging Technology – For my cohort, we have two people living in the same region, but then one student who recently took employment in Jordan. In order to keep us all on track and motivated towards completing this milestone, we will be employing a Mahara digital portfolio to keep our documents organized, Skype to be able to meet “face to face” now and again, and Google Docs to collaboratively edit documents.  Another way in which you can leverage technology to help along the process, as I’ve mentioned before, is using Twitter to reach out to other scholars. […]

  3. […] 3. Leveraging Technology – For my cohort, we have two people living in the same region, but then one student who recently took employment in Jordan. In order to keep us all on track and motivated towards completing this milestone, we will be employing a Mahara digital portfolio to keep our documents organized, Skype to be able to meet “face to face” now and again, and Google Docs to collaboratively edit documents.  Another way in which you can leverage technology to help along the process, as I’ve mentioned before, is using Twitter to reach out to other scholars. […]

  4. […] out to your on-campus librarians.  For the cohort question, I would refer you to my post on utilizing the Twitterverse to find a community of scholars.  For your scholarly searching, using the right database for the […]


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