From a small start at the end of 2012, the NZ twitter education chat #edchatnz has grown exponentially. The last chat had around 1000 tweets in the 60 minutes that the chat ran for. It was moving so fast that some very experienced Edchatters were struggling to keep up with what was happening, let alone those new to taking part. There are lots of posts out there offering advice for teachers new to twitter (such as this great one by @lisa_madden) but not much advice on venturing into the often fast moving world of a twitter chat. Hence, this post: How to take part in the awesome learning of a twitter chat when you are new to them.
The first step is not to stress about reading everything that occurs in the chat. I particularly like this advice from relatively new twitter user @mrgreenstreetnz: “Take a breath and consider all your words.” We all know 140 characters can be tough to get your message across so don’t worry if while you take time composing your tweet, you miss 50 tweets from others. You also do not have to have an answer for every issue that pops up in the chat.
The next step is to use a twitter chat tool/app/site. For the most part, my twitter use is on the Twitter website or on the Twitter app on my phone and ipad. But when it comes time to join a chat (my favourites being #edchatnz and #dtk12chat) I switch over to TweetDeck as it has smooth updates as more tweets are sent for that hashtag. Just set up a column for the chat you are in, preferably near your notifications column and away you go! I also know others who use http://www.tchat.io/ as a website based tool for chats as well. Joseph Broughton who helps moderate #dtk12chat recommends placing a column for the moderator next to the chat column so you can keep track of where the questions are at.
Now you are set up to go, here’s some targets for what you could aim to achieve in a twitter chat:
Rookie: 1st couple of times joining in #edchatnz or any other chat
- Retweet 3 tweets that you like the message of
- Give your answer to 2 Questions
- Reply to one person’s tweet
- Follow 5 people who had good ideas
Novice: you have been in a few chats now and are gaining in confidence
- 2 RTs
- Answer 3 Qs
- Reply to 3 people’s ideas
Literate: you are now confident in keeping up with the speed of the chats and are likely to start taking a more leading role
- Answer all Qs
- Share a link that gives more information about the topic
- RT and Reply to your heart’s content
Fluent: you are now a regular twitter chat participant and will be confident enough now to set your own targets for each chat – or more likely just be taking each chat as it comes, contributing or lurking to your heart’s content!
So, these are my ideas for building up your confidence for joining in a twitter chat, hope they are helpful!
p.s. have heard that Matt Nicoll from St. Andrews College College in Christchurch New Zealand has organised a gathering in their staffroom to help staff join in with #edchatnz this week. This is incredible support for teachers new to twitter! Maybe not an option for some but we could learn from joining in with twitter as a team. If you are new to this, maybe you get a friend to join in at the same time?