Photo by: Amodiovalerio Verde under a CC license

Photo by: Amodiovalerio Verde under a CC license

I know many people think of twitter as a place where people post the inanities of their lives “Having coffee at…” “I’m at the corner of…” Twitter has much more to offer than that. By judiciously following some incredible educators, I have a network of people from whom I learn (and I hope they learn a bit from me). I have been on Twitter since 2007; my initial participation was tentative. I read tweets. It was only as I slowly built up my network that I started to really use twitter as a source of professional development. You can follow some of the leaders in education. Don’t be shy; they may not follow you back, but they won’t block you from seeing what they share.

Now I take part in tweet chats. What is a tweet chat, you ask? It is a conversation on twitter. A time is set aside for discussion on a particular topic. All participating use a hashtag that identifies that the tweet is part of the chat e.g. #cdnedchat. Tanya Avrith, from Lester B. Pearson School Board, is one of the founders of the Canadian EdChat (the other being Michael Quinn from SWLSB). I participated in the inaugural chat on April 29 and there were educators taking part from across the country. I had the opportunity to speak with Tanya about cdnedchat. Here is what she had to say.

tweetdeckChats are usually moderated, with the moderator posing a question to start off the conversation. The pace may be very fast, but there are tools to help slow down the tweets. One tool is tweetchat. You simply enter a hashtag and let tweetchat do the work. You can pause, set the refresh rate and change the size of the tweets. This site is strictly for viewing the conversation. When you are ready to start contributing, a tool that can help you  is Tweetdeck (I use it and Tanya mentioned it as well). You can create a column to follow a particular hashtag. This article can help get you started.

In a chat the moderator will post a question usually starting with Q1. Participants may answer the question A1 or contribute a tweet on the topic. During the hour the moderator will add questions to keep the conversation going.

A sample column from my tweetdeck can be seen on the left. You can reply to a tweet add or find out more; you can retweet  to share something you thought was interesting, with or without adding your own comment  and you can favourite a tweet to easily find it later. When there is someone whose tweets speak to you, you can follow them to see what they are tweeting when not part of a tweet chat. It’s a great way to build up your PLN. Tweetdeck makes it easy to follow the thread of a conversation.

Here are a few Twitter acronyms which will help you decipher some tweets

@username – the @ addresses a specific user
DM – direct message (you can only tweet directly to someone who follows you)
RT – Retweet
MT – modified tweet (when you retweet but edit the retweet)

There are many tweet chats run by educators. The #cdnedchat is a great place to start as the ideas and links you get are posted by fellow Canadian educators. It takes place every Monday at 8:00pm Eastern Time. Find out more on the web site and be sure to watch Tanya’s video on why these chats are important. There are also tweet chats that target specific kinds of teachers (Kindergarten, Science, Flipping…) For an extensive list, have a look at what Cybraryman has curated. Remember, if you can’t be there at the specified time, you can always go back to read what transpired by searching the hashtag.

Q1 Have you taken part in a tweetchat? What did you gain from it?

Q2 Are there tweetchats that you would recommend for your colleagues and why?

Q3 What do you think about having a tweetchat around each week of LEARN’s blog?

I’m looking forward to your answers.