Utilizing Twitter Chats for Professional Development by Tom Murray (@thomascmurray)
Each week, educators from around the world take part in various conversations on Twitter known as “chats.” These conversations have become an excellent way for educators to connect on relevant topics, share resources and best practices, all while challenging each other’s thinking. The premise of a Twitter chat is simple. Each lasts for 60 minutes, moderators pose questions on a predetermined topic, and participants use a consistent hashtag (#) to communicate. Here’s an example from a recent #ptchat:
Questions are posed in a sequential “Q1, Q2” (Question 1, 2, etc.) format over the 60-minute time period. Participant responses begin with “A1, A2” (Answer 1, 2, etc.) to indicate the question to which a participant is responding. For example:
A variety of tools such as Tweetdeck, HootSuite, Tweetchat, etc., can be utilized to aggregate the chat into a single stream to ease the conversation process.
Recently, I pulled together six educators from around the country who are leaders in this area. Joe Mazza (@joe_mazza) and Dana Sirotiak (@sirotiak02) moderate #ptchat; Scott Rocco (@scottrrocco), Bill Krakower (@wkrakower) and Brad Currie (@bcurrie5) moderate #satchat; and Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) is a moderator of #edchat. The conversation below on the Power of Twitter Chats was designed to share the value of this mode of professional development with other educators.
#Edchat — Conversations surround various education topics and trends. Participants vote on the weekly topics. Moderated by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), Shelly Terrell (@shellterrell), Nancy Blair (@blairteach), and Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1), this chat occurs at noon-1 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
#Edtechchat - This brand new chat is centered around educational technology. Moderated by Tom Murray (@thomascmurray), Katrina Stevens (@katrinastevens1), Sharon Plante (@iplante), Susan Bearden (@s_bearden), and Alex Podchaski (@ajpodchaski), this chat occurs on Monday evenings from 8-9 p.m.
#PTchat — Parent/teacher chat focuses on improving home-school partnerships. Moderated by Joe Mazza (@joe_Mazza — principal), Dana Sirotiak (@sirotiak02 — teacher), Gwen Pescatore (@GPescatore25 — parent), Zack Malamed (@ZakMal — student) and Steve Constantino (@SMConstantino — superintendent). This chat occurs Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m.
#Satchat — Similar to #edchat, #satchat conversations revolve around a variety of educational topics and trends. Moderated by Scott Rocco (@scottrrocco), Brad Currie (@bcurrie5), and Bill Krakower (@wkrakower), this chat occurs Saturdays at 7:30-8:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30-8:30 a.m. Pacific.
#SBGchat — Grading is the primary focus of this new chat. Standards Based Grading (SBG) chat is moderated by Darin Jolly (@drjolly) and Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) and occurs Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m. Other curriculum-related chats include: #flipclass, #pblchat, #ellchat, #spedchat, etc.
#SSchat — Social studies teachers from around the world collaborate on this chat, which occurs Mondays from 7-8 p.m. It is co-moderated by Dan Krutka (@WSUSocStudies), Michael Milton (@42ThinkDeep), and Melissa Seideman (@mseideman). Other grade-level and subject area chats include: #engchat, #scichat, #mathchat, #kinderchat, #1stchat, #4thchat, etc.
#Edchatri — Some educators have joined together to discuss education in their state, however, educators from all over the world usually join the conversation. Edchat Rhode Island is moderated by Don Miller (@dmiller212001) and Alan Tenreiro (@alantenreiro) and occurs Sundays from 8-9 p.m. Other state chats include: #iaedchat, #njed, #wischat, #caedchat, #txed, etc.
Twitter chats have evolved into an excellent, differentiated form of professional development. Share your insight, gain feedback and get connected through an upcoming chat that meets your needs.
Tom Murray serves as the Director of Technology and Cyber Education for the Quakertown Community School District in Bucks County, Pa. A former middle school assistant and elementary school principal, Murray is passionate about proper technology infusion and differentiated professional development. He was the 2012 recipient of the Blended Schools Network Leadership Award and was featured in Tech & Learning Magazine’s Leadership Profile in December of 2012. Murray’s QCSD cyber and blended learning programs have been highlighted by Forbes.com, T.H.E. Journal, Project Red, the Innosight Institute, iNACOL, and on Digital Learning Day 2013, among others. Murray serves on the advisory board for THE Journal and has co-founded and moderates both #sbgchat and #edtechchat. Connect with him on Twitter @thomascmurray or at www.thomascmurray.com.