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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

Twitter chats- explained

What are they

In this blog post I'm looking at Twitter chats, I'll talk about the benefits of Twitter chats and how you go about locating and participating in an education focused Twitter chat.

How to use it

So, how do you join or participate in a Twitter chat? Before we go into that we need to understand how to use Twitter. For those of you not familiar with using Twitter there are two symbols you need to be aware of, they are the # hashtag and the @ symbol.

The # is used to reference the subject being discussed (ie #ukfechat) and @ symbol allows you to locate people and companies (ie @james_kieft) The first thing to do it is to find the appropriate # for that chat topic you are interested in, I came across this site whilst researching this post, it has a very comprehensive list of education twitter chats, with their # and time.

The format of a Twitter chat is as follows, typically they last for an hour and will be hosted by one or more people. During that time the host will post a number of questions spread throughout the duration of the chat. The number of questions vary and typically you can expect anything between 5 and 10 questions within the hour.

Questions will be numbered and identified by the letter Q and number, to respond to a question click on the speech bubble to the bottom left of tweet, make sure to include the chat # hashtag in your response and the letter A to signify answer and the number or question you are responding to.

See below here is a screen shot of a reply I posted to a UK based twitter chat

In addition to responding to the host’s questions you can also respond to answers posted by others in the chat, I sometimes find that some of these discussions related to responses to questions can be just as valuable as the main discussions focused around the primary question.

Sites such as Wakelet enable you to curate tweets focused around a particular hashtag that been used to during a specific time. This makes it possible to review the whole of the chat after the event. This can be useful as Twitter chats are usually quite fast paced so it's not always

possible to keep up to date with all threads during the actual chat.

Having hosted and participated in a number of chats, typically the bulk of the discussion happens during that hour of the chat, however conversations can continue for the following week as people who weren't able to make the chat drop in to look at the hashtag and then respond to questions.

What are the benefits

As mentioned already Twitter chats can be very fast paced the first few that I took part in, I was slightly overwhelmed by the number of tweets and responses coming through. So initially you may only focus on one or two of the questions, looking at the answers have been posted.

Then as you grow more confident, you may choose to respond to either a question or one of the responses and gradually the more Twitter chats you participate in the easier it is to keep abreast of what's being said and to make your responses. I have found them to be a really great form of professional development.

Here are some of the other benefits in participating in a Twitter chat :

  • A great way to discuss a specific topic with other people who share similar interests.

  • By connecting with people in those chats you can grow your personal learning network.

  • A great form of personal professional development

  • By hosting a chat you can understand how others are approaching the same topic

Check out my infographic for further ideas

Tweet deck can make it easier to track and participate in a Twitter chat, my video guide to that site is below:

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