July 31, 2015

AAPT Summer meeting 2015 twitter mini-analysis (#AAPTSM15)

I was not at the Summer meeting of AAPT which just wrapped up earlier this week. But, I have been following along with the meeting hashtag on twitter (#AAPTSM15) which was a great way to get a sense of what was going on in College Park, without actually being there.

I wanted to do some analysis of the tweeting, so I set up an IFTTT recipe to log all the tweets with the hashtag to a Google spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I didn’t set it up until some people were already flying out for the pre-meeting workshops and related meetings, and apparently my recipe got turned off right about the time the bridge session from AAPT to PERC was starting.  So, I don’t have a complete data set, but I have the majority of the tweets.

Here are some numbers:

249 unique accounts tweeted or retweeted with the #AAPTSM15 hashtag. Excluding users who only retweeted something leaves 118 unique accounts, up from 42 a year ago. Not all of them were at the meeting, and some of the retweets may have been from bots, but it’s still a far cry from the winter meeting in New Orleans a few years ago when I think it was just Heather Whitney, Rhett Allain, and myself who were tweeting.

Over 1500 tweets (including 640 retweets) were sent during the meeting.  I didn’t follow everyone who was tweeting, so I was grateful that so many were retweeting from their timeline.

What about the most prolific tweeters?  Here are the 25 users with the most #AAPTSM15 tweets:

@LCTTA 169
@eigenadam 77
@MrLeNadj 55
@TRegPhysics 50
@chrisgoedde 45
@fnoschese 43
@WBrianLane 39
@nquarderer 30
@arundquist 26
@dyanlj 26
@Mr_Martenis 26
@UniverseAndMore 24
@rjallain 22
@kellyoshea 21
@watermanphysics 20
@BlackPhysicists 19
@csealfon 18
@KHSphysics 18
@ainissaramirez 17
@ng_Holmes 17
@bethaapt 16
@fpoodry 15
@SteveMaier_ 15
@danny_doucette 14

Once again, the most tweets came from @LCTTA. Nice work, Joe! (Sorry for not linking the usernames to twitter.)

I thought my analysis of the tweets was going to be all about the numbers related to tweet activity. But what is really interesting to me are the themes that emerged (in my opinion) from the attendees who were tweeting.

Ideas which seemed to resonate with attendees, based on my reading of my own timeline included: how do we ensure diversity in the physics classroom, the role of physics education in society in general, how we choose the topics and activities to include in our classes, and how to improve assessment of student learning.  Here are some tweets which were some of the most favorited and retweeted of all which illustrate these themes:

Two most of the most retweeted tweets came from Frank Noschese. The first on the social value of learning physics, as raised by Eugenia Etkina:
The second, on diversity issues in physics classrooms:
Taoufik Nadji (@MrLeNadj) got a lot of retweets from this image:
There was a demo which got several retweets:
Joe Heafner had a comment about how topics are chosen in physics classes:
Trevor Register had a couple of tweet garnering several retweets. The first was a comment again from Eugenia Etkina:
The second was related to the value of student designed or directed labs:
So while there was one popular tweet specifically about a neat demonstration, most of the engaging tweets were about big-picture ideas in physics education. This is really neat for me to see, because I have been thinking about many of these issues for a few years, and to be honest, sometimes it feels like no one else is with me. So I hope to have more to say regarding some of the above ideas in the near future.

Finally, the tweets I captured for analysis were only the ones using the meeting hashtag. There was a lot of discussion online between attendees and non-attendees which often did not include the hashtag. My analysis doesn’t capture that dynamic back-and-forth engagement between physics teachers. If you explore the hashtag, starting with the above tweets, you’ll see the discussions which went on, and are still going on.

If you’re not on twitter, there’s no better time than now to check it out.  See you at #AAPTWM16 - I’ll be attending as I did this one: on twitter.