Twitter Chats: "Speed Dating" for Educators

Tagxedo cloud created from tweet responses to the first question, "What role have apps played for you as an educator?"

Tagxedo cloud created from tweet responses to the first question, "What role have apps played for you as an educator?"

Every Saturday morning, educators from around the world come together on Twitter to collaborate, share ideas, create, problem solve, discuss hot topics in education, and well...to chat.  There are three main chats that I frequent on Saturdays: #satchat, #satchatwc, and #rechat.  Each chat lasts for only an hour, but if the topic fits your passion, you could potentially learn more in that hour than you would from an entire conference.  Really.  This is why I refer to Twitter chats as "speed dating" for educators. Like speed dating, most people are resistant to the idea of participating in a Twitter chat because it can be overwhelming. Unlike speed dating, all of these chats are archived, and there are apps like Tweetdeck that will allow you to move at your own pace and ensure that you don't miss ANYTHING!  To illustrate this, I am going to walk you through the last #satchatwc that I participated in, via the archive.  You can follow along with the archive of this chat on Storify

How do chats work?

Twitter chats typically have 1-3 moderators that initiate and facilitate the discussion around a pre-determined topic.  Again, typically there are a series of questions that are posted by the moderators with the format Q1, Q2 etc.  To respond to these questions, the participants begin their tweets with the corresponding A1, A2 etc. to keep track of the discussion.  To maintain the chat thread, each tweet included the hashtag of the chat for filtering purposes.  At the bottom of this post, I have included links to resources about participating in chats and getting the most out of the experience.  Below you will find my personal takeaways from last Saturday's chat on the use of apps in education.  Once you get the hang of it, you should stop reading this post and dig into the archive to create your own personal learning from this chat.  I then encourage you to explore the ideas that intrigue you the most, and look for ways to creatively integrate some of these ideas into your practice. If you find your interest piqued by one of the tweeps in this chat, expand your PLN and follow them on Twitter.  So without further ado…

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You might want to follow @drjolly and @dculberhouse

You might want to follow @drjolly and @dculberhouse

Why are apps in education awesome? Because apps...

  • increase engagement for everyone (most mentioned)
  • facilitate collaboration between students and teachers
  • are resources for remediation or enrichment; differentiation
  • allow for creativity/ design
  • save time and help with organization and efficiency
I like it.  Going to follow @TaraWoodall

I like it.  Going to follow @TaraWoodall

  • good for recording student/teacher observations and provide feedback
  • facilitate the creation of videos for student projects, tutorials etc.
  • improve the quality of communication between students, teachers and parents
  • allow for self-pacing
  • are good for tactile learners
  • help students to grow socially and develop relevant technology skills

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  • add rigor without sacrificing engagement
  • have web-based counterparts; great for BYOD
  • are great for workflow
  • can serve as LMS/CMS
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Strategies for using/introducing apps in schools/classrooms?

  • leaders should encourage experimentation in the classroom with iTunes gift cards, coupons, or other rewards/ acknowledgement and then give teachers the freedom to take risks and innovate
  • create sharing opportunities in your school
  • teachers should set individualized tech integration goals for integration "introduce one app every two weeks until the end of the year"
  • introduce to class, evaluate, then share out with colleagues; take risks
Following @JenRoberts1... maybe she will reveal her apps list :-)

Following @JenRoberts1... maybe she will reveal her apps list :-)

  • carve out time during faculty time (PLC's, meetings, PD days) for tech teacher leaders, teachers, students etc. to share useful and innovative apps (as described below) with other faculty members. 
  • when sharing apps, document by creating collaborative lists of apps to share with a description of each app's educational value, purpose, usefulness, effectiveness and suggest strategies for integration
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  • provide support for teachers on integration of apps into their teaching and learning practices. 
  • provide teachers with the devices and give them time for exploration and experimentation
  • preload standard "gotta have" apps on devices then provide PD before the year begins.
At the very least, you should already be following @drjolly.

At the very least, you should already be following @drjolly.

  • (admin and teacher leaders) model use of apps in meetings

I like the calendar idea...maybe not on Fridays :-) 

I like the calendar idea...maybe not on Fridays :-) 

  • have students share what apps they think would be best to use (@Sabrapro)

Tara is a repeat offender in my Tweet favorites.  I like how she thinks!

Tara is a repeat offender in my Tweet favorites.  I like how she thinks!

  • when evaluating apps, ask yourself: "Does this tech make my instruments more effective?  Does this tech promote 21st century skills for my students? 
  • be willing to try and then fail/succeed and then try again. Take risks.
Love the idea of a smackdown! 

Love the idea of a smackdown! 

By this point most people should be at the very least intrigued by the idea of using educational apps in your classroom, while others are ready to dive in with both feet.  The next question brings us to why these chats are so valuable to me.  The links.  Links = going down the rabbit hole of PD.  140 characters turns into an endless supply of relevant insightful blog posts, new websites to explore, new apps to try out, and new ideas to process and use as a springboard for creativity and integration in your teaching. Time to explore whatever peaks your curiosity or makes you mind engage. 

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Links and apps to explore after this chat: 

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Definitely follow this guy!

Definitely follow this guy!

And the list goes on and on.  So what now?  I plan to choose a few of these apps that I am interested in exploring further and start researching on Google, Twitter, and the blogosphere.  Blogs are a great resource for learning about apps because educators will explain how they use them in their classes and include suggestions for use and strategies for effective integration.  This is a good way to spark your imagination. 

The great thing about Storify archives is that you can interact with the people from Storify itself.  In fact while writing this post, I replied to several of the people with questions, suggestions etc.  I also added people to my PLN that I missed the first time around.  Time to dig deeper.  Here is the link to the archive again in case you made it all the way to the end of this blog :-)  I am exhausted after reviewing this hour long chat, so I will take a brain break and start working through my long list of takeaways later! 

Questions for you:  What were your takeaways?  What is one app that you want to explore further?  Are there any apps that you would add to this list?  It isn't too late to share.  Just include the hashtag #satchatwc in your tweet. How many people did you add to your PLN? Are you ready to give "Speed Dating" a try? 

There is a Twitter chat for everyone, and there are several chats scheduled every day.  Check out @cybraryman1's schedule of chats to find one that engages your interests and passion for learning.  There is even a chat called #tlap, or teach like a pirate!  Sorry to disappoint, but it is a chat about creativity in education, not pirates.  I know, I know...ARGH!  Once you decide on a chat, all you have to do is log into Twitter and search for the hashtag of the chat. 

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This will filter your feed.  To participate, just make sure to include the hashtag in your tweet.  Be sure to check All Tweets instead of Top tweets or People you follow when you participate in a chat.

From Twitter.com

From Twitter.com

If you are still not feeling brave enough to jump in, here are a couple of links you can check out to help you come up with some solid strategies for participating in chats: