ABSTRACT: Happiness, stress, a bit of vulgarity, and lots of discursive conversation: A pilot study examining nursing students’ tweets about nursing education posted to Twitter.
The use of social media platforms like Twitter within/for nursing education has become more common in recent years. Regardless, it is unclear how nursing students use technology like Twitter during the course of their nursing education.
The aim of this paper was to explore how nursing students describe elements of their nursing education via the social media platform, Twitter.
Tweets about nursing courses, classes, and clinical were collected in October 2011 and analyzed for themes. Overall, 498 tweets were collected over a collective six day period, and 189 tweets were codified into five thematic representations.
Nursing students were found to discuss a variety of elements related to their nursing education, including events and situations they perceived to be positive or exciting. Stress and annoyance messaging was also noted as a salient theme expressed by nursing students when describing their education. Vulgarity and derogative messaging targeting elements of nursing education (including courses, students, and faculty) were found in a subset of tweets. The majority of the tweets collected in this study contained random discursive conversations regarding nursing education, including information seeking requests and declarative statements about temporal events.
The findings of this study point to a need for educators to explore aspects surrounding eProfessionalism within nursing education. Similarly, this paper also highlights the growing requirement for nursing educators to learn more about how social media is being used by nursing students within/for their education, in order to better develop learning and networking opportunities for students. Without this, nursing education may miss a significant opportunity to help shape students’ professional use of social media technology like Twitter.