My ongoing personal learning over the 24 years of my career in education has seen many changes, but one of biggest changes technology has brought to personal learning has been the convenience of learning anytime, anywhere with anyone! This month is Connected Educator Month and as I proceed through EduBlog’s Teacher Challenges, I’m trying to document my progress here on my blog. Step 3 in the Challenge focuses on Twitter Chats for personal growth.
I’ve already written briefly about my favorite Twitter chat: SatChat on Saturday mornings at 6:30 Central Time here in Kansas where I live. Good thing I’m a morning person, huh? I’ve participated many times over the last year or so in this chat. First, I just got up and made my coffee and tried to follow the #satchat hastag using Twitter itself. Not very impressive. Then I dug a little deeper and tried out HootSuite as a tool to make the chatting experience more manageable. Hootsuite allows you to open a columnar window into which ONLY the tweets with the desired hashtag will feed. They still come through pretty quickly, but this made it much more easy to keep up with. You can expect a welcome message from a moderator or two and then a stream of introductions at the designated start time. Soon after, the moderator will post a discussion topic that you can identify by its starting “Q1,” meaning “here is discussion question 1.” You may see a few “retweets” of the Q1 tweet, then you can expect the flood of responses to the question to come in labeled with “A1” indicating “this is my answer to question 1.” After a few minutes Q2 will be released and then the A2 tweets start flowing in. Most Twitter chats I’ve participated in have 4 -5 questions in an hour long chat.
The chat experience is even more powerful when you use it to make connections with other like-minded participants. It is a great way to find people to “follow” on Twitter, or even to communicate with directly in whatever way you like to communicate for other projects. Other tips I have: I have both a laptop and an iPad on which I have participated in Twitter chats. Even though I’m pretty good on my iPad keyboard, my own personal preference is still to participate on my laptop so that if I do decide to post an answer, I can most quickly get it typed and submitted. But it is pretty rewarding to have my iPad nearby and hear the notification sounds come in when one of my posts is “retweeted” or someone “favorites” or “direct messages” me because of something I posted.
If you haven’t ever tried a Twitter chat, I challenge you to try one as part of Connected Educator Month 2014. Here is a great link with a schedule of several educational twitter chats that happen regularly. Be sure to cognizant of the time zones each one is marked in. Its also a great way to find hashtags you can search Twitter for even if the time of the live chat doesn’t work for your schedule. (Thanks, CybraryMan, for the great Twitter resources posted here: http://cybraryman.com/twitter.html!!)