Tweet, and We Shall Find: Using Digital Methods to Locate Participants in Educational Hashtags


Although researchers have discovered a great deal about who uses Twitter for educational purposes, what they post about, when they post and why they participate, there has so far been little work to explore where participants in educational Twitter contexts are located. In this paper, we establish a methodological foundation that can support the exploration of geographical issues in educational Twitter research. We surveyed 46 participants in one educational Twitter hashtag, #michED, to determine where they lived; we then compared these responses to results from three digital methods for geolocating Twitter users (human coding, machine coding and GPS coding) to explore these methods’ affordances and constraints. Human coding of Twitter profiles allowed us to analyze more participants with higher levels of accuracy but also has disadvantages compared to other digital—and traditional—methods. We discuss the additional insights obtained through geolocating #michED participants as well as considerations for using geolocation and other digital methods in educational research.

In TechTrends