Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chatting has value? It's much more than iChat or Google Talk.

When discussing chatting with parents and teachers, the reaction is almost always negative.  I get comments like, that's a waste of time, it's a distraction, or I don't have time for it. So rather than dispute their claim, I've taken the approach of sharing the types of conversations I experience using twitter. When I describe the deep conversations surrounding professional development, curriculum, the role of libraries, and digital citizenship  to name a few, the response is almost always one of surprise.  Followed by comments such as "I had no idea twitter could be used beyond what an actor was having for breakfast let alone professional development."  With that misconception temporarily on hold, I offer the following primer on how to participate in the conversations.

So how does one get involved?  First, join twitter, follow a few tweeple in your field and look for a hashtag that matches your interest. A hashtag for example, is a category within a twitter that can be followed or searched. The hashtag #isedchat is a conversation among independent school educators. Some tweets are bits of information but the real value is on Thursday nights at 9pm.  This is when many educators participate in a topic that was voted on earlier in the week. But don't worry, if you miss a chat session, @lcarroll94 archives the stream.

How do I find people to follow on Twitter? Start by looking at who other educators follow. Read their posts and lurk for awhile, ask questions, and reply. As one finds tweets of value, your list of who to follow will start to grow.  Most importantly, be patient it takes time to develop any relationship.

Are there other chats specific to my discipline or division? Absolutely.  If you don't follow @cybraryman1 on twitter, you should.  He is a wealth of information and his website is full of resources.  Be sure to check out his webpage on educational chats and the schedule of twitter chats.

How do I filter out tweets into chats? There are a few ways to accomplish this task but I tend to use tweetchat.  Tweetchat allows one to insert a hashtag #isedchat so tweets containing the tag of interest appears in a single channel.  One can also adjust the refresh rate if the conversation is steady and has lots of participants.

So as we wind down the school year, at least in this hemisphere, and you are looking to do some exploring, research, or reflection on  issues surrounding education, why not dip your toe into a twitter stream and connect with others who are passionate about bringing out the best in our students.

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