New article in JRST: Idle chatter or compelling conversation? The potential of the social media‐based #NGSSchat network

Joshua Rosenberg


This article is a long-time coming, and is one I’m very proud of. It is an analysis of the #NGSSchat network, one which involved qualitatively coding 1000s of posts sent to the hashtag (and 100s of profiles of those who posted to the network) and using social network analysis techniques namely multi-level selection models (and models for social influence) to show what many people who have participated in #NGSSchat may already know: It’s a good place to learn and share about science education and the new science education standards.

Part of the back-story of the paper that may not come through in this article is just how much this work is both a reflection and a product of the people involved in the network we studied, #NGSSchat, itself. Before Storify was shut down in 2018, #NGSSchat moderators (Tricia Shelton, Fred Ende, and, sometimes, other - more on Tricia and Fred, later) archived the bi-weekly chats on Storify. Links to these were posted to Wikipedia, which, curiously, was also shut down! Before Storify (and Wikipedia) disappeared from the interwebs, we accessed the links to the posts, and these posts were what we later accessed and used here. It was the self-archiving of the activity of the #NGSSchat network that made this study possible, and for that and other reasons my co-authors and I are absolutely indebted to those who created and sustained it. Also, the #NGSSchat network is great; it’s a digital context that we felt didn’t receive the attention from the research community it deserved; thus, this article.

An abstract for the article, Idle chatter or compelling conversation? The potential of the social media‐based #NGSSchat network for supporting science education reform efforts, is here:

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) chat (#NGSSchat) is a social media‐based professional network used to discuss topics related to the NGSS in the United States. While successful reforms involve and coordinate the work of multiple stakeholders, recent research points out a striking lack of coordination between the individuals working in different educational roles—to the detriment of intended changes in the system. In this study, we analyzed more than 7,000 posts from individuals participating in #NGSSchat on Twitter (n = 247) during 2 years of 1‐hr synchronous discussions. We studied the depth and types of conversations that took place, the extent to which the involvement of teachers, administrators, researchers, and organizations was balanced, and what explains participation in the network over time. Using a mixed‐methods approach involving social network analysis, we found that conversations were primarily transactional, or social, and substantive, or providing opportunities for sense‐making about the standards or for participants to transform their practice and that individuals from diverse roles participated, with teachers comprising the plurality of those involved. Additionally, researchers, administrators, and teachers were the most active in the network, with no differences in both initiating, or sending, and being the recipients of, or receiving, replies as a part of conversations. Finally, we found that being a teacher or administrator, as well as receiving replies from individuals who were important in the network, were positively related to sustained involvement in the network in the following year. We discuss how #NGSSchat—as a social media‐based professional network—demonstrates similar features in other effective networks, and how social media‐based networks invite new visions for how to implement ambitious, large‐scale changes in science education.

A view-only (but open-access) version of the article is here: If you want to read the published article, then check it out there.

An always-available post-print is here: This can be downloaded.

I have a little bit more to say :)

First, thanks to my awesome co-authors Josh, Elizabeth, Matt, Christian, and T.J.

Also, thank you to Tricia Shelton and Fred Ende for organizing this professional network; without them, and all of those who have moderated and participated in #NGSSchat, our study would definitely not have been possible.

Finally, I want to thank Naomi Waight, the special issue editor (with Knut Neumann), and the reviewers for helping us to make this a better study and article.

The article is a part of a special issue on Science teaching, learning, and assessment with 21st century, cutting‐edge digital ecologies.

An editorial associated with the special issue is here:

And an overview of it is here: