The use of social-media at conferences has changed significantly over the last 6 years becoming a central component to professional conversation and participant engagement. The volume and diversity of micro-blogging participants has increased and the positioning of the ‘back channel’ is an increasingly endorsed and expected part of the participatory culture at the national conferences
This paper tracks the use of twitter at the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Australian Computers in Education Conferences (ACEC) and analyses how the backchannel conversation has evolved over that time. It expands on previous work of a detailed analysis of Twitter posts from the ACEC 2010 conference (Gesthuizen 2012). This research attempts to provide a longitudinal analysis of trends and changes in use over time.
Although the use of twitter as a data set presents limitations, a range of different approaches will be used to determine the place and prominence of messages exchanged to measure and identify volume and diversity of participants, nature of the ‘conversation’ and types of tweets shared, personal reflections from the authors and other key tweachers, patterns and themes in the contributions.
A small scale survey of conference participants will also be used to gather reflections on changes in the use of twitter as a PLN with a focus on contributions to ACEC conferences. This research will provide a recommendations and strategies for engaging conference participants in the meaningful use of back channel conversations and their value by participants and observers to the conference experience.