Theorizing Twitter Chat


  • Claudia Megele Senior Lecturer & CPD and Post Qualifying Programmes Leader Dept. of Mental Health, Social Work, & Inter-Professional Learning (incl. Complementary Health Medicine) School of Health and Education Middlesex University



eLearning and Blended Learning, Twitter Chat Pedagogy, Twitter Psychology, Social Media Identity, Discourse Analysis and Twitter


Drawing on sociological, psychological and pedagogic theories, this article offers a conceptualisation of Twitter and Twitter chats as a continuous multilogue within communities of practice and/or communities of interest (CoP and CoI).

This article examines the collapsing and increasingly overlapping boundaries of formal and informal education and locates Twitter chats within this overlapping area. Furthermore, conceptualising Twitter interactions as multilogue conversations, the article offers an object relational conception of knowledge, knowledge generation, and learning and a dynamic interpretation of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and the notion of More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) to offer a theorisation and pedagogic perspective in relation to Twitter and Twitter chats.

The article concludes by considering some of the implications of such a theorisation for individual and professional identity, learning and pedagogy.


Bauman, Z., & Lyon, D. (2012). Liquid surveillance: A conversation. Cambridge: Polity.

Burgoon, J., & Hoobler, G. (2002). Nonverbal signals. In M. Knapp & J. Daly (Eds.), Handbook of interpersonal communication (pp. 240–299). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Clark, H. (1996). Using language. New York: Cambridge University Press


Dewey, J., (2007). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. Saerchinger Press. (Original work published 1938).

Dewey, J. (2008). The School and Society. In Jo Ann Boydston (Ed.), John Dewey: The Middle Works, 1899–1924. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. (Original work published 1899)

Duggan, M. & Rainie, L. (2012). Cell phone activities 2012. Reported by Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from

Enfield, N. J., & Levinson S. C. (Eds.). (2006). Roots of human sociality. Culture, cognition and interaction. Oxford (UK), New York: Berg Publishers.

Gadamer, H. G., Weinsheimer, J., & Marshall, D. G. (2004). Truth and method (2nd ed.). London: Continuum.

Geertz, C. (2010). The Interpretation of cultures. Fontana Press.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of talk. Oxford: Blackwell.

Goodwin, C., & Heritage, J. (1990). Conversation analysis. Annual Review of Anthropology, 19, 283–307.


Greenwood, D., Long, C., & Dal Cin, S. (2013). Fame and the social self: The need to belong, narcissism, and relatedness predict fame appeal. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 490–495.


Heidegger, M. (1977). Basic writings (D. Farrell Krell, Ed. & Trans.). New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Herring, S. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 4(4). Available from

Hung, D., Tan, S., & Koh, T. (2006). From traditional to constructivist epistemologies: A proposed theoretical framework based on activity theory for learning communities. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17, 37–55.

Jackson, L., & MacIsaac, D. (1994). Introduction to a new approach in experiential learning. In L. Jackson & R. S. Caffarella (Eds.), Experiential learning: A new approach (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education), 62, 17–28. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall.

Konrath, S. H., O’Brien, E. H., & Hsing, C. (2011). Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15, 180–198.


Lacan, J. (1981). The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis (J.-A. Miller, Ed., A. Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Norton.

Lave, J. (1993). Situation learning in communities of practice. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine, & S. D. Teasley (Eds.), Perspective on socially shared cognition (pp. 63–82). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.


Mayer, R. E. (2005a). Principles of multimedia learning based on social cues: Personalization, voice, and image principles. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 201–212). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Mayer, R. E. (2005b). Principles of multimedia learning based on social cues: Personalization, voice, and image principles. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 201–212). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.



McKenna, K. Y. A. (2007). Through the Internet looking glass: Expressing and validating the true self. In A. Joinson, K. Y. A. McKenna, T. Postmes, & U. Reips (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of psychology (pp. 205–222). New York: Oxford University Press.

Megele C. (2014a). eABLE: Embedding social media in academic curriculum as a learning and assessment strategy to enhance students learning and e-professionalism. Innovations in Education and Teaching International.


Megele, C. (2014b, in press). Social work and social media: An experiential approach to teaching and learning ethics in the context of postmodern social work practice.

Megele, C. (2014c, in press). Identity and ethics in digital age: Exploring meaning and boundaries of self, privacy, personal, social, and professional.

Megele, C. (2014d, in press). Theorizing higher education and university: Exploring the Boundaries of Formal, Non-Formal, and Informal Education.

Megele, C. (2015a, in press). Psychosocial and relationship based practice. Critical Publishing.

Megele, C. (2015b, in press). Using social technology in health and social care provision: Strategies for implementation and good practice. Jessica Kingsley.

Murthy, D. (2012). Towards a sociological understanding of social media: Theorizing Twitter. Sociology, 46(6), 1059–1073.


Shank, G. (1993). Abductive multiloguing. The semiotic dynamics of navigating the Net. Arachnet Electronic Journal on Virtual Culture, 1(01).

Shiu, E., & Lenhart, A. (2004). How Americans use instant messaging. Reported by Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Smith, R. (2014, 23 May). First operation streamed live with surgeon wearing Google glass. The Telegraph. Available at:

Toma, C. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Self-affirmation underlies Facebook use. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 321–331.


Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. In M. Cole, V. J. Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.), Mind in society (pp. 79–91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Walther, J. B. (2007). Selective self-presentation in computer-mediated communication: Hyperpersonal dimensions of technology, language and cognition. Computers in Human Behaviour, 23, 2538–2557.







On the Horizon