Heard about Twitter chats, but not sure what they are or how to get started? It's super easy and possibly the best education PD available (and it's all FREE), so let's figure out how to get YOU chatting.
First, you will need a Twitter account. I set mine up just for educational professional development, so the people I follow are all related to the world of education in one way or another. If you want to follow me to get started my username is @TheresaKDixon. You might want to also look for authors, speakers, or peers who tweet about education and follow them.
The one other thing you will need to know is the importance of #hashtags on Twitter. Hashtags are a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. When chatting, it's critical that you use the hashtag in your post because that's how Twitter organizes the posts and others know your participating in the conversation.
What is a Twitter chat?
A Twitter chat is an online Twitter discussion that happens at a predetermined time using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. A host or moderator will pose questions (designated with Q1, Q2…) to prompt responses from participants (using A1, A2…) and encourage interaction among the group. Chats typically last an hour. Professional social customs of courtesy and respect are expected.
Typically at the published start time, the chat host will post a request for everyone to check in using the chat hashtag. Post a quick hello with your name and hashtag. Watch for other participants to post their introductions and feel free to comment back if you know or recognize them.
A few minutes later the Twitter host will post the first question (Q1). Answer the question in a Tweet starting with A1 and ending with the hashtag. Again, watch for other to posts their answers. Be sure to "like" or retweet the post. If you want to reply, be sure to use the participant's username (with the @sign) and follow your tweet with the hashtag.
The same pattern will repeat for the next questions-- typically 4 or 5 in an hour.
Before signing off, be sure to thank the Twitter host. Also, go back to the chat's Tweets and follow anyone who extended your thinking, commented on your post, or followed you. It's a great way to build a professional network.
Why participate in a Twitter chat?
Twitter chats also provide a chance to network and grow professional learning networks through shared interests.
How to find a Twitter chat
There are many ways to find Twitter chats, most of which happen on a fairly regular basis. Try the following links to find a chat that meets your interests or industry.
Participate is a great resource for daily education chats on all kinds of topics.
Tweet Reports has a listing of Twitter chats including those in professions outside of education.
Twubs has similar information, as well as, the ability to register a hashtag.
Follow @ChatSalad on Twitter to find chats that are currently happening or taking place in the near future.
Be a Twitter Chat Rockstar
Tweet Deck is a Twitter dashboard that consists of a series of customizable columns, which can be set up to display Twitter hashtags. This makes following a Twitter chat super easy as only the Tweets in the chat are visible.
I’d love to learn with you on Twitter, so let me know if you have a favorite chat and I’ll see you online!