Exploring online social networks of school leaders in times of COVID‐19 – Rehm – – British Journal of Educational Technology


COVID‐19 continues to have devastating results on our world which might be more likely to proceed effectively into the long run (Hargreaves, 2020). The pandemic has impacted our day by day lives and has not stopped on the schoolhouse door. School leaders and lecturers needed to modify to the brand new circumstances in a single day (Azorín, 2020a), requiring them to re‐design and re‐device their colleges as residence‐based mostly, expertise‐enabled, distant studying amenities (Harris, 2020). In this text, we think about school leaders to be comprised of school principals and administrative leaders of school districts (e.g., superintendents). Even although the underlying sorts of studying and instruction haven’t modified, the online context and associated challenges of accessing related data and speaking with college students, mother and father, and colleagues put sizeable strain on lecturers and school leaders (Kaden, 2020; Merrill, 2020).

Two methods to mitigate these challenges have been recognized. First, distributing simply‐in‐time data inside online communities. This helps members in maintaining‐to‐date with the most recent developments and share data and sources with colleagues (Risser, 2013). Here, we think about simply‐in‐time data to signify “supportive [information] to the efficiency of the nonrecurrent facets of the advanced talent” (Kester et al., 2001, p. 377). In times of COVID‐19, this data may translate into studying the way to manage distance training for college kids with out essentially having the required IT infrastructure or educational experience. The second technique includes lecturers and school leaders more and more turning to online means to re‐join, share and talk with college students, mother and father, and colleagues (Kaden, 2020). This suggestion underlines the “must develop networked […] communities” (Azorín, 2020a, p. 3) to sort out the day by day challenges of offering training through the pandemic. Even extra so, there have been unprecedented efforts amongst educators to make use of social media to presumably deal with the state of affairs (Azorín, 2020a; Doucet et al., 2020). Both methods counsel the significance of casual studying networks in supporting lecturers and school leaders in their skilled improvement (del Fresno García et al., 2016; Daly et al., 2019, Rehm et al., 2020; Krutka & Carpenter, 2016). Yet, how these networks develop and what sort of content material is being shared therein stays beneath‐researched. The present paper addresses this analysis hole.

Informal studying networks to deal with challenges

Informal studying networks have been recognized as a vital system that constitutes the spine of our societies (Van Dijk, 2020). Following the definition of Richter and colleagues (2011), we outline casual studying networks as “not observe[ing] a specified curriculum and [] not [being] restricted to sure environments” (p. 117). Conversely, formal studying networks are extra conventional, “structured studying environments with a specified curriculum” (p. 117). In the context of training, Sliwka (2003) said that casual studying networks, in common, “signify vibrant motors of change” (p. 63). Informal studying networks’ potential to rework appears to be notably prevalent “in difficult contexts and susceptible circumstances” (Azorín, 2020b, p. 106). Similarly, casual studying networks might be the catalyst for instructional innovation tailor-made to native communities’ particular wants (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2015). However, it has been acknowledged that formal studying networks and interventions usually solely have restricted relevance and affect on the work of school leaders (Bidwell, 2001). Instead, sustained entry to related, simply‐in‐time data, e.g., by way of online communities, could present extra beneficial circumstances to face right this moment’s advanced instructional challenges (del Fresno García et al., 2016; Parise & Spillane, 2010). Accordingly, casual studying networks may be a viable choice to foster a collaborative course of of reflecting on follow (Fox & Wilson, 2015) as they supply school leaders with a chance to repeatedly share concepts and replace their follow (Hopkins, 2000). These casual exchanges might also supply better flexibility than formal eventualities (Froehlich et al., 2014) and supply a context that’s not indifferent from their working environments (Eraut, 2004).

Heller (2020) posited 4 explanation why casual studying networks, which regularly type and develop online, play a vital position in serving to actors adapt to the circumstances pertaining to the COVID‐19 pandemic. First, casual studying networks can act as bridges over systemic gaps. For occasion, somebody in the community might need the wanted data if the formal establishment doesn’t present them. Second, casual studying networks should not instated however develop organically on account of members’ shared curiosity in a particular subject and their want for group. Therefore, these teams have a robust understanding of native communities. Third, casual studying networks are usually from individuals for individuals. Actors have a tendency to hitch as a result of they care in regards to the relevant subject and never as a result of of public or industrial pursuits. Finally, casual studying networks have immense potential to have an actual affect on our actuality. For instance, members collectively form the way in which they share and alternate data and sources in order that it fits their wants, which, in flip, could profit the networks’ members and trigger.


Previous analysis has proven that online actions, corresponding to taking part in private and/or skilled networks, studying blogs and tweets, and accessing different online sources, can considerably contribute to school leaders’ skill to adapt to new circumstances (Rodriguez‐Gomez et al., 2020). Hence, an growing quantity of research have begun to look into this area (Greenhow et al., 2019; Ranieri et al., 2012). Prior to COVID‐19, school leaders have been predominantly involved with working their colleges and making certain that common instructing and studying actions ran easily. Suddenly, school leaders needed to manage the whole lot from behind their laptops and purchase data on the way to finest deal with the quick‐altering state of affairs and associated challenges. Hence, you will need to higher perceive how modern school leaders, entry simply‐in‐time data and data, e.g. by way of social media, and native contextual experience in bettering a bunch of outcomes (DeMatthews, 2018; Spillane et al., 2003).

Previous analysis signifies that school leaders usually interact with their lecturers in creating a number of studying communities the place educational practices are shared, used, and improved. Also, being half of a number of studying communities permits school leaders to guide and affect the lecturers (Giles, 2006). Moreover, it has been advised that being resourceful, instrumental, and collaborative represent traits which might be key for school leaders to form studying communities. In this context, accessing simply‐in‐time data and contextual experience is of nice significance (Fullan, 2016). In addition, there may be rising recognition that constructing interpersonal relationships is especially essential for school leaders since relationships create and maintain the circumstances to handle urgent instructional and social points inside colleges (Daly et al., 2010). Furthermore, these interpersonal relationships and underlying social processes can contribute to improved school outcomes (Francera & Bliss, 2011).

Social processes of involving leaders have been discovered as an essential mechanism that drives management (Daly et al., 2010), as social relations permit leaders to realize entry to sources and knowledge crucial to realize particular person and collective outcomes (e.g. Duguid, 2005; Panahi et al., 2013). These issues signify a social community perspective (Cross et al., 2008), which highlights the interdependence amongst actors inside a social system (e.g., online communities) and provides insights into the affordances and constraints associated to the circulate of data and relational sources, corresponding to experience and insights (Supovitz et al., 2015). Moreover, research have proven that ties throughout methods (e.g., colleges) can contribute to “boundary crossing” (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011, p. 133). The underlying notion of boundary crossing is that it permits people to broaden their horizon and look exterior of their “slim day by day existence” (Williams, 2006, p. 600) to find data and insights that might in any other case be unavailable or hidden from them in their rapid environments (del Fresno García et al., 2016; Tynjälä, 2012). For instance, a school chief may flip to colleagues from one other geographical area that share a topical curiosity and may present them with some helpful data. In phrases of COVID‐19 and residential‐education, this data may be associated to experiences with Zoom calls to remain linked with college students or utilizing Padlet to supply studying supplies on arithmetic for elementary school youngsters. Yet, regardless of these developments, the intersection between management and online social networks has obtained solely restricted consideration (Daly et al., 2010; del Fresno García et al., 2016; Van Waes et al., 2016; Daly et al., 2019).


Social capital has been promoted as a helpful theoretical assemble to raised perceive how casual studying networks develop and evolve (e.g. Rehm & Notten, 2016; Rehm et al., 2020; Dubos, 2017; Phua et al., 2017). Tsai and Ghoshal (1998) think about social capital to be “relational sources embedded in the cross‐reducing private ties” that “are helpful for the non-public improvement of people” (p. 464). Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) distinguish between three dimensions of social capital, specifically a structural, a cognitive, and a relational dimension. The structural dimension is worried with the social interactions between people inside a specific setting, corresponding to a social networking web site (SNS). Who is contacting who? How usually do they convey? How lively is a person in comparability to others? Is all people speaking to everybody? Those sorts of questions are on the centre of the investigations in regards to the structural dimension. The cognitive dimension offers with the query of whether or not taking part actors share a standard understanding and terminology, which improves the potential of exchanging concepts and knowledge. The guiding questions listed here are: What are people speaking about? What sort of re‐occurring key phrases and phrases might be recognized? Are they utilized by the bulk of members? Finally, the relational dimension describes points corresponding to motivations and customary values amongst people. For this examine, we give attention to the structural and cognitive dimensions of social capital.

The case of social media

The rise of social media has led to a panoply of online communication areas, corresponding to Facebook and Twitter, whereby people can doubtlessly entry and share all kinds of sources (Owen et al., 2016). Moreover, a rising quantity of research have proven that instructional professionals use social media, corresponding to Twitter, to entry and share data that helps them and others to face their on a regular basis challenges (Rehm et al., 2020; Risser, 2013). As social media are embedded in educators’ rapid private {and professional} environments, they represent social alternative areas (del Fresno García et al., 2016, Rehm, 2018, Rehm et al., 2020) that present affordances to attach with others, share data, sources, and insights, and foster a course of of vital reflection.

In this paper, social media is taken into account to be a set of online expertise platforms specializing in synchronous and asynchronous that has reached ranges of interplay far past something earlier than in human historical past (Perrin, 2015). Based on the structural and technical attributes, they signify a mix of private areas which might be socially linked (Megan McPherson et al., 2015). Additionally, these areas are neither sure by time and place nor unique in phrases of membership (Brüggen & Schemmerling, 2014). Instead, people can repeatedly be current in all kinds of topical areas that span time and the whole globe. For instance, a school chief can simply share with college students and oldsters the most recent data on how the COVID‐19 pandemic is affecting on a regular basis instructing procedures. Simultaneously, the identical chief can use social media channels to prepare informational workers alternate. Similarly, if the school chief lacks related data in their rapid environment, they’ll additionally simply flip to different social media areas to entry a plurality of opinions and experiences (Mynatt et al., 1998) on, for instance, the way to efficiently incorporate Zoom conferences throughout a COVID‐19 associated lockdown.

Yet, whereas the position of school management has turn out to be more and more essential in the method of supporting change and dealing with new challenges (Penuel et al., 2009; Pitts & Spillane, 2009), we proceed to have a scarcity of analysis that examines the position of school leaders, notably in phrases of accessing and leveraging casual studying networks located in social media (Rehm et al., 2020; Cho & Jimerson, 2017). Current analysis on casual studying networks in social media has both targeted on Facebook (Sibona & Walczak, 2011; Tang et al., 2016), has been performed amongst college students (Selwyn & Stirling, 2016; Zachos et al., 2018), or uncared for the position and affect of school leaders (Antheunis et al., 2012; Chung, 2013). As a outcome, there was a name for extra analysis on how school leaders use social media as casual studying networks to accumulate connections, in addition to entry and share data and sources (Kukulska‐Hulme, 2007; Owen et al., 2016).

The current examine addresses these shortcomings by investigating whether or not and the way school leaders, who flip to casual networks on social media, entry and share data to assist them face the challenges brought on by the worldwide COVID‐19 pandemic. Moreover, utilizing a social capital perspective, this paper analyses the structural and cognitive dimensions of social capital and determines and analyses the social community buildings and underlying topical discussions. This examine is each well timed and significant given the vital position of school leaders and their skill to form the responses to lockdown eventualities and the elevated want to prepare and conduct distance training. In endeavor this essential line of inquiry, this work is guided by the next analysis questions:

  1. What sort of networks develop amongst school leaders in the subject of COVID‐19?
  2. What sort of data and sources on and across the COVID‐19 pandemic are traceable inside these networks?
  3. What variations might be recognized when evaluating social media utilization in a nation‐extensive and a localized pattern?



The level of departure for this examine are two sorts of information sources. On the one hand, we collected information from a US nation‐extensive pattern of 15 Twitter conversations on standard hashtags amongst school leaders1 (Rehm et al., 2020). Moreover, we particularly looked for management and COVID‐19 associated discussions inside this bigger dataset (Bruns & Stieglitz, 2013; Kouzy et al., 2020). We chosen this explicit dataset to evaluate whether or not school leaders did cross boundaries and entry data, sources, and experiences to collaboratively deal with the pandemic. Additionally, this dataset was chosen as a result of rising empirical proof means that school leaders and lecturers flip to those giant, nation‐extensive areas to share and interact with colleagues, collaboratively contributing to one another’s casual studying networks. (Gotlieb & Cheema, 2017; Tosato et al., 2014; Tseng & Kuo, 2014). On the opposite hand, we tracked the skilled Twitter profiles of 97 school leaders working in an city mid‐sized public school district in the United States that serves greater than 76,000 PK‐12 college students from a range of backgrounds. These school leaders have been half of a bigger venture that offers with casual studying networks, each inside of colleges and districts, in addition to online. While evaluating hashtags conversations with information that’s based mostly on particular person profiles has some methodological drawbacks, it permits, in the context of this exploratory examine, to discover and distinction these two casual online networks of school leaders. This will assist higher perceive the collective efforts to deal with the challenges brought on by the COVID‐19 pandemic at a nationwide stage. Also, It permits us to zoom‐in on a extra localized group, which has been advised to give attention to different subjects which might be particular to native circumstances (Maggie McPherson & Nunes, 2004; Riel & Levin, 1990). Therefore, this comparability may supply insights into how a district‐extensive set of school leaders use social media in comparison with a nation‐extensive pattern the place the heterogeneity of data may be greater. Additionally, this work can inform each management and coverage follow, as it could visualize how school leaders are connecting and spotlight what they think about to be among the many most urgent points when coping with the pandemic.


Using a devoted server, we accessed Twitter’s utility programming interface (API), complying with the phrases and circumstances for Twitter (Rehm et al., 2020). The information was collected from January 01 to June 30, 2020, and contained all tweets and consumer profile data from the indicated setting. This course of resulted in 50,424 Tweets. Next, we constructed a directed unweighted 1‐mode community based mostly on all collected Tweets, Mentions (e.g., @consumer), and Replies (e.g., RTuser) matrices. Additionally, in order to stick to established, moral requirements of coping with Big Data, that are impracticable to acquire knowledgeable consent (Bechmann & Kim, 2020), we adopted the advice of the Internet Research Ethics Guidelines (Bechmann & Zevenbergen, 2019) and pseudonymized all customers’ names and profiles of the 97 school leaders.

Social community analyses

Social community principle has been broadly acknowledged as a helpful device to evaluate the structural dimension of social capital (Moolenaar et al., 2012; del Fresno García et al., 2016; Van Waes et al., 2016; Rienties et al., 2013; Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998), because it offers with patterns of social relationships that exist between individuals in social networks (Scott, 2017). While it acknowledges people and their position in a community, it extends the angle additionally considers the bigger social infrastructure in which they act and talk (Borgatti & Cross, 2003; Cross et al., 2001). More particularly, it permits to analyse and visualize communication processes inside SNS (Buccafurri et al., 2015; Yoon, 2014). In making use of this angle to Twitter discussions, we imported the collected information in the R software program package deal and used the R library “igraph” to conduct the relevant analyses. For visualizing the social networks, we used the gephi. Connections (edges) between customers (nodes) have been constructed if one account talked about or replied to (e.g., @userX) one other account’s Tweet(s). More particularly, we computed the in‐, out‐, and total diploma centrality metrics of all customers (Borgatti, 2005; Freeman et al., 1979; Hahn et al., 2015). These metrics point out how usually a person has been contacted (in‐diploma), has contacted others (out‐diploma), and the way distinguished that particular person is in the communication (total diploma), respectively. We additionally decided underlying group buildings (Newman, 2006) and decided people with distinguished roles (as measured by the highest one % of customers based mostly on the general diploma) in the networks (Rehm et al., 2020; Burt, 2009; Lee et al., 2014).

Bibliometric analyses

To assess the content material of what was being shared, thereby contributing to our understanding of the cognitive dimension of social capital in the Twitter dialogue, we employed bibliometric analyses (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). These sorts of analyses are more and more promoted as a helpful methodological device to map what’s being contributed and shared in giant textual content corpora from SNS (Alsumait et al., 2010). We employed latent dirichlet allocation (Blei et al., 2002), utilizing the Gibbs sampling algorithm to determine this construction (Blei, 2012). In this methodology, one has to find out the quantity of subjects to be assigned earlier than working the algorithm. For the case at hand, we used 5, seven, and ten ex‐ante subjects. We then analysed the outcomes and qualitatively decided which choice finest describes the underlying communication flows. This step is important as 5 subjects may result in an overlap of subjects that may really be thought-about meaningfully totally different, e.g., video‐conferencing and Padlet beneath the umbrella of online studying. Alternatively, it may be that some subjects are separated, whereas it may be argued that they belong to the identical overarching subject, e.g., MicrosoftTeams and Zoom, each being derivatives of video‐conferencing. This methodology, additionally sometimes called subject modelling (Blei & Lafferty, 2009), permits analysing and visualizing the underlying topical buildings of large information units (Chaney & Blei, 2012). Furthermore, we acknowledge that Twitter instated a 280‐character restrict for Tweets. Therefore, it has turn out to be widespread follow to incorporate hyperlinks (e.g., to blogs or web sites) in the Tweets to share extra intensive data and sources. Hence, in order to additionally incorporate this data, we additionally disentangled the hyperlinks and decided the underlying domains (Mitchell, 2015; Munzert et al., 2014), utilizing the R libraries “longurl” and “urltools”.



Table 1 supplies an summary of the decided community metrics. As might be seen, there may be fairly some similarities between the 2 information sources, regardless of the variations in ranges. Both networks are topic to the next stage of in‐diploma than out‐diploma centrality. Moreover, each networks gave the impression to be pushed by just a few (very) lively customers. Furthermore, whereas not reported in Table 1, each networks’ density scores have been beneath 0.001, which is typical for these sorts of networks. A more in-depth take a look at the in‐levels of the nation‐extensive pattern confirmed that these customers have been information channels (e.g., @CNN, @nytimes) or people who have been talked about from the realm of US politics (e.g., @actualDonaldTrump, @JoeBiden). In the case of the city information, excessive ranges of in‐diploma have been predominantly attained by establishment‐extensive accounts (e.g., @DISTRICTNAME2, @SCHOOLNAME) or central people from school districts’ administration (e.g., @SUPERINTENDENT, @PRINCIPAL).

Overview of community metrics
inDegree outDegree overallDegree
Nation‐Wide Urban Nation‐Wide Urban Nation‐Wide Urban
Avg 0.97 3.24 0.97 3.24 1.94 6.49
StDev 4.62 16.59 2.57 4.72 5.31 18.51
Min 0 0 0 0 1 1
Max 751 551 60 74 751 590

Social community buildings

To put the general metrics into perspective, we then decided the relevant social community buildings. Figure 1 reveals the related sociograms.

Sociograms of the general networks. Dots—Nodes signify particular person Twitter customers; Lines—Edges point out relationships (e.g., Mentions, Replies) between Nodes; Color of Nodes—Modularity Community Detection Algorithm. (a) Nation‐extensive pattern. (b) Urban public school district.

As the metrics already advised, each networks have been topic to a couple central Twitter accounts (as highlighted by the bigger nodes in Figure 1). Moreover, we found a quantity of communities whereby particular person Twitter accounts communicated extra steadily than with customers exterior the group. The sociograms additionally present a transparent distinction between the 2 information samples. While the city school district was comprised of a big large‐part (giant community of interconnected nodes), the nation‐extensive pattern had a sizeable outer fringe of nodes. In different phrases, there was a big group of accounts that participated in the general hashtag dialogue, whereas on the similar time not connecting or being linked with others (e.g., in phrases of mentioning different customers or being talked about by them). Zooming in on the highest one % of customers, based mostly on total diploma, revealed the community buildings depicted in Figure 2.


Sociograms of for high 1% (based mostly on total diploma). Nation‐extensive pattern: n = 349; city public school district: n = 25. (a) Nation‐extensive pattern (b) Urban public school district.

Here, we see that the distinguished customers (as denoted by the bigger measurement of the nodes) are on the centre of their group networks (that are denoted by the totally different colors). Additionally, we see that the discussions on COVID‐19 have been pushed by a small quantity of communities (e.g., similar‐colored nodes). Furthermore, we found that the distinguished customers have been linked with and in reciprocal contact with one another.

Content being shared

Frequency of hashtags getting used

After contemplating the structural dimension of social capital, as decided by the social community perspective, we turned to the content material that was being mentioned. More particularly, we began by contemplating essentially the most generally used hashtags used in the 2 information samples. The related outcomes are summarized by means of wordclouds in Figure 3. The frequencies of the Top 10 mostly used hashtags are offered in Table 2.


Wordclouds of mostly used hashtags. (a) Nation‐extensive pattern (b) city public school district.

Top 10 hashtags getting used
Top Nation‐Wide n

Urban n

1 Climatechange 3660 weareSCHOOL 56
2 Education 2725 DISTRICTstrong 24
3 Science 2612 bettertogether 22
4 Covid 2404 DISTRICTbettertogether 21
5 Earthday 2308 STATEed 19
6 Stem 1261 DISTRICTnation 15
7 Edtech 1202 covid 12
8 Teachers 835 inspiringleaders 12
9 Coronavirus 806 STATEsupt 11
10 Students 789 DISTRICTNAME 10

The wordclouds revealed a substantial distinction between the nation‐extensive and the city information. As might be seen, in the case of the nation‐extensive pattern, #covid and #coronavirus have been prominently addressed in the communication. In distinction, the city pattern solely marginally included a reference to those hashtags. However, on nearer inspection #weareSCHOOL, #DISTRICTbettertogether and #DISTRICTstrong turned out to be regional and focused derivatives of the nationwide COVID‐19 hashtags, all coping with the state of affairs round residence‐education, staying in contact with college students, and maintaining spirits up.

Top domains being shared

Next, we thought-about the hyperlinks that have been being shared throughout the relevant Tweets. More particularly, we decided the underlying domains to get preliminary insights into what sorts of sources school leaders might need shared. Overall, 5.069 hyperlinks have been shared in the nation‐extensive pattern, in comparison with 79 in the context of the city school district. The high ten domains per information pattern are summarized in Table 3.

Top 10 domains being shared
Top Nation‐Wide n

Urban n

1 youtube.com 437 youtube.com 34
2 paper.li 225 wevideo.com 14
3 edsurge.com 80 smore.com 8
4 weblog.iammarketingmedia.com 71 naeyc.org 6
5 amazon.com 67 openphysed.org 3
6 instagram.com 64 change.org 3
7 nytimes.com 48 paper.li 2
8 theguardian.com 45 kennedy‐heart.org 2
9 fb.com 42 aumprojetos.com.br 1
10 careerarc.com 40 concepts.ted.com 1

The widespread denominator for each information samples is that YouTube is essentially the most steadily shared area. In the case of the nation‐extensive information, a random pattern of 50 URLs revealed that the shared movies appeared to give attention to studying sources, corresponding to studying the alphabet, experiments (e.g., liquid nitrogen balloon), and recorded professional panels on, for instance, online security for teenagers. Similarly, a more in-depth take a look at the shared movies in the city pattern, which was additionally based mostly on a random pattern of 50 URLs, confirmed movies on security (e.g., in times of COVID‐19) and digital live shows. The different domains included data portals particularly focused at instructional professionals and leaders (e.g., edsurge.com, naeyc.org) and online instruments, corresponding to functions for creating newsletters or successfully utilizing social media (e.g., smore.com, careerarc.com). Additionally, common information websites (e.g., nytimes.com) and different social media platforms (e.g., fb.com) have been usually included in the Tweets. The content material of these websites offered common data and sources on the COVID‐19 pandemic and a variety of opinions and standing experiences on how people deal with the pandemic. Moreover, in the case of the city sized school district, a variety of hyperlinks have been shared that offered inputs for instructing just about (e.g., openphysed.org), in addition to becoming a member of online petitions, such because the request to search out options for cancelled commencement ceremonies on account of COVID‐19 (e.g., change.org).

Topic modelling

To achieve extra insights into the cognitive dimension of social capital, we subsequent employed subject modelling to determine widespread themes and terminologies in the Tweets. Table 4 summarizes our findings for the nation‐extensive information. As might be seen, in this context, we decided seven subjects to successfully describe the discussions. Topics 1 and 4 handled COVID‐19 associated data. Whereas Topic 1 mixed COVID‐19 with different subjects, corresponding to local weather change and world earth day, Topic 4 was extra involved with the lockdown and the way distance training can be utilized to proceed instructing. Similarly, Topic 7 contained data on distant studying and utilizing totally different applied sciences, notably video conferencing, to help the instructing. Topic 2 appeared to the touch upon citizen science and refers to a collection of podcasts that have been shared. Topic 5 referred to reside occasions, corresponding to webinars, and their associated data. Topic 3 appeared to have a robust group focus, and Topic 6 particularly focused the upcoming US elections.

Topics for the nation‐extensive information
Topic 1 Topic 2 Topic 3 Topic 4 Topic 5 Topic 6 Topic 7
Covid Thank Classroom Science Education Free New
Climatechange Many Human Help Join People Learning
Scientists Podcast Children Research Today Work Students
Coronavirus Life Community Inspiration Make Realdonaldtrump Teachers
Earthday Love Lesson Talk Week Projects School
World Year Activities Inspiring Webinar Register Online
Scientists Episode Planet Distance Live Ownership Remotelearning
Change Citizenscience Parents Statistics Leaders Opportunity Technology
Pandemic Really Challenges Lockdown Virtual Public Video
Global Energy Share Teacher Tomorrow Program Edtech

Turning to the city information pattern, Table 5 reveals the related outcomes. Here, we found 5 subjects to seize the primary themes and terminologies getting used among the many customers. In explicit, Topic 4 included a particular reference to COVID‐19 and the way a particular half of the school district handled the state of affairs. Topics 2 and 5 are reasonably related, as all of them exhibited group‐constructing tendencies for various geographical areas of the school district. Topic 3 lined one other very current (political) subject and dialogue, specifically #blacklivesmatter. Finally, Topic 1 appeared to signify the general environment throughout the whole school district, specializing in values (e.g., household, workforce) and “maintaining spirits up” by highlighting phrases like “enjoyable” and “proud.”

Discovered subjects for the city information
Topic 1 Topic 2 Topic 3 Topic 4 Topic 5
Congratulations Districtname Schoolname Thank Leadername8
School Superintendent Senior Happy Time
Work Leadername4 Control Love Schoolname8
Family Year Gun Leadernamel Teacher
Team Schoolbulldogs Spotlight Students Theexeceffect
Hard Leadername5 Bettertogether Teachers Appreciation
Class Make People Covid Welcome
Spirit Schoolname2 Lives Today Graduation
Fun Schoolname7 Black Leadername2 Leadername9
Proud Community Matter Amazing Excited


This paper got down to examine how school leaders used social media to entry simply‐in‐time data and share sources on coping with the results of the worldwide COVID‐19 pandemic. Departing from a social capital perspective, this paper analysed the structural and cognitive dimensions of social capital, utilizing a mix of social community analyses and bibliometrics. More particularly, we collected information from two sorts of information sources, specifically (i) a US nation‐extensive pattern of 15 hashtag conversations on Twitter, and (ii) information tracked from the skilled Twitter profiles of 97 school leaders working in an city mid‐measurement public school district in the United States. While the info was based mostly on two sorts of assortment strategies, this allowed us not solely to raised perceive the collective efforts to deal with the challenges brought on by the COVID‐19 pandemic but additionally to research whether or not native communities may differ in how they use social media, as in comparison with a nation‐extensive pattern. Overall, we recognized three key findings linked to our three analysis questions.

First, our analyses revealed that leaders have been connecting by way of Twitter, thereby constructing social networks that may function a foundation to share data, experiences, and sources to deal with the pandemic. Moreover, we found a small quantity of communities that appeared to prepare the discussions. Each group was led by a single or a gaggle of central consumer account(s), as decided by their excessive diploma centrality. This community construction is comparatively widespread in social media (del Fresno García et al., 2016; Daly et al., 2019; Rehm et al., 2020, 2020a). Furthermore, we found some particular traits of the dialogue at hand, thereby contributing to our third analysis query. In the nation‐extensive Twitter dialogue, distinguished customers have been predominantly information channels (e.g., New York Times), political actors from the US (e.g., Joe Biden, Donald Trump), and worldwide activists or opinion leaders (e.g., Greta Thunberg). In distinction, the city information revealed a stronger give attention to school leaders from the respective school district (e.g., principals or superintendents). This outcome means that although Twitter and social media, in common, should not restricted by boundaries of area and time (Ye et al., 2012), there are broad tendencies to localize data to make it extra related and relatable to related environments (Rehm et al., 2020; Eraut, 2000, 2004) and perhaps much more so throughout a pandemic.

Second, using bibliometrics, we discovered that school leaders have been actively discussing COVID‐19. We additionally found that COVID‐19‐associated and different subjects have been usually mentioned concurrently, whereas conversations in regards to the different subjects had steadily began previous to the pandemic’s outbreak (e.g., #climatechage, #edtech, #stem). This outcome means that school leaders have been contextualizing their shared data. Additionally, by combining hashtags, corresponding to #edtech and #covid, leaders might particularly entry and share data on the way to arrange distance training utilizing video‐conferencing. A more in-depth inspection of the shared hyperlinks revealed that studying sources, different data portals, and online instruments have been among the many mostly shared hyperlinks and sources amongst school leaders. Building upon these findings, we used subject modelling to find out underlying themes and terminologies used in the discussions. This methodology allowed us to actually zoom in on the content material and contribute to our understanding of what sort of simply‐in‐time data school leaders have been searching for and sharing to shortly transition into an online‐based mostly modus operandi (Azorín, 2020a; Kaden, 2020). Thus, it constitutes an attention-grabbing, preliminary discovering. Future analysis ought to lengthen on this kind of evaluation and think about using internet‐scraping strategies (Mitchell, 2015; Munzert et al., 2014) to gather all textual components from the hyperlinks that have been shared by way of Twitter (Rehm et al., 2020).

On a macro‐stage, we found that school leaders shared common data on the results and the perceived affect of COVID‐19. Furthermore, we discovered clear indicators of discussions round points such because the lockdown and the way distance training can be utilized to proceed instructing and keep linked with college students, mother and father, and colleagues (Kaden, 2020; Merrill, 2020). More particularly, on a extra micro‐stage, school leaders shared particular instruments, with an obvious give attention to video conferencing and newsletters, recommendations on utilizing instructional expertise, and available instructing sources to help one another’s work and dealing with the pandemic.

Finally, when contemplating doable variations between the nation‐extensive and concrete information samples, we found that the city mid‐sized school district in query didn’t overly use the nation‐extensive, very particular method of together with COVID‐19 associated hashtags. Instead, they mentioned the problem based mostly on localized terminologies, corresponding to #weareSCHOOL, and #DISTRICTstrong. In phrases of mentioned subjects and themes, school leaders additionally had a stronger give attention to coping with native occasions, corresponding to online petitions to rearrange acceptable replacements or options for a cancelled commencement ceremony on account of COVID‐19. We additionally discovered proof for group constructing. However, in distinction to the nation‐extensive pattern, the group constructing was very a lot connected to the totally different school leaders, corresponding to superintendents and principals, who have been chargeable for particular geographical areas. Finally, we discovered an total environment that had a robust give attention to group values (e.g., household, workforce) and “maintaining spirits up” by highlighting phrases like “enjoyable” and “proud.” In abstract, the city community was extra targeted on the social‐emotional and help facets of COVID‐19. This discovering is in line with earlier analysis on digital social areas (Hodge et al., 2006). This analysis has advised that geographical proximity, which normally helps group‐based mostly actions (Maggie McPherson & Nunes, 2004), might be mimicked by creating a way of belonging via referral to native occasions and developments (Riel & Levin, 1990). In distinction, the nation‐extensive pattern dealt extra with content material‐associated points. These points included sharing data, experiences, and sources on dealing with the sudden requirement to re‐design and re‐device as residence‐based mostly, expertise‐enabled, distant studying amenities (Harris, 2020).

Overall, our outcomes present that school leaders actively engaged in casual studying networks on social media to construct connections and entry sources and knowledge (Daly et al., 2014; Duguid, 2005; Hislop, 2002; Panahi et al., 2013). Moreover, when contemplating the content material of what was shared, we decided three broad classes, specifically, (i) updating data, (ii) standing experiences, and (iii) instructing sources. Updating data encompasses data from information portals (e.g., New York Times) and devoted platforms for school leaders (e.g., naeyc.org). Here, school leaders can collect and entry common data on related points, together with the pandemic. Status report entail contextualizing data from a normative perspective (Lasorsa et al., 2012). Here, information occasions and newest developments are commented on, and related penalties are described and interpreted from consultants’ and practitioners’ level of view. This is a standard follow on social media (Dubois & Gaffney, 2014; Jensen, 2016) and an essential issue in establishing a group. As a matter of reality, it’s half of the cognitive dimension of social capital, because it fostered the institution of a standard understanding and terminology. This shared understanding, in flip, will enhance the probability of connecting with others (structural dimensions) and foster the creation of belief and customary values (relational dimension). In order to shed extra gentle on these inter‐relations, future analysis ought to think about an prolonged combined‐strategies evaluation that additionally incorporates extra qualitative analysis strategies, corresponding to semi‐structured interviews, which have can seize the relational dimension of social capital (Rehm et al., 2020; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998; Van Waes et al., 2016).

Finally, contemplating the instructing sources being shared (e.g., experiments, tutorials, and recorded lectures) counsel a latent tendency to contemplate new and progressive methods to show, triggered by the restrictions of school lockdowns. More particularly, whereas analysis has already been contemplating the idea of flippedclassroom for fairly a while now (Jinlei et al., 2012; Tucker, 2012), it has not but absolutely arrived in lecture rooms (Akçayır & Akçayır, 2018). This examine’s preliminary findings counsel that COVID‐19 might need revealed gaps and potential shortcomings in the academic methods (Teräs et al., 2020), which school leaders are starting to research.

Implications for follow and coverage

The sensible implications of this analysis might be summarized into three principal facets. First, we offer insights into how casual studying networks develop online, notably in the context of school leaders needing to adapt to new circumstances and alter (Rodriguez‐Gomez et al., 2020). This data might be instrumental when contemplating different networks which might be of curiosity to practitioners and policymakers.

Second, we’ve got began to unravel the kinds of data and sources which might be being shared. On the one hand, this may point out what sorts of experiences and insights may be attention-grabbing for school leaders. On the opposite hand, it could additionally act as an indicator of what sort of data and sources may be missing (Bidwell, 2001), notably in the face of a disaster like the worldwide COVID‐19 pandemic (Azorín, 2020b).

Third, we’ve got proven variations in how casual studying networks are used, evaluating a nation‐extensive alternate with a localized, city Twitter dialogue. While the nation‐extensive dialogue can attain a big viewers and supply helpful enter, it additionally lacks the chance to contemplate variations in areas. Consequently, extra localized communication can assist school leaders to place issues in perspective and focus on and apply newly gained data in keeping with their particular circumstances. Moreover, these discussions may present social‐emotional help (Hodge et al., 2006) by contributing to a way of belonging (Riel & Levin, 1990). This discovering, in flip, constitutes a helpful enter for policymakers, who may need to present their very own help in the present state of affairs or throughout different occasions which have an identical attain and affect.


The authors wish to thank Anita Caduff for her help in the ultimate model of the manuscript.


There isn’t any battle of curiosity in the work we’re reporting right here.


Due to moral issues and in order to guard the identities, notably of the school leaders from the city mid‐measurement public school district in the United States, the info can’t be overtly accessed. Upon private request it may be mentioned how the info might be accessed by third events.

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