Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Brief History Of #Edchat

As one of the founders of #edchat I get a lot of questions about the what, where, when and why. So here is everything you need to know (or wanted to know) about #edchat.

The History
#edchat started out of a series of conversations between myself, Tom Whtiby and Shelly Terrell. Tom is a bit of an instigator and likes to push people's thinking about various topics in education. One day he was asking several of these though-provoking questions and he was getting comments from all angles. He turned to Shelly and I for help. Afterwards, he suggested we needed a hashtag to make sure we didn't miss anything. Shelly suggested a weekly format where anyone could participate and I suggested we have the community vote on what we would talk about. And thus, #edchat was born. We had our first real chat in July 2009. And we have had one every week (except for a break at Christmas) ever since. 

The Basics
To participate users need only add #edchat to their tweets. We have organized chats every Tuesday. The main chat is at 7pm EDT and lasts an hour. Another chat for our friends in Europe and beyond is held on Tuesdays at Noon EDT. Polls are posted by me (@web20classroom) on Sunday afternoons and voting ends Tuesday mornings. The highest vote getter is discussed at 7pm EDT and the second place is discussed at Noon EDT. Participants are welcome to suggest topics for discussion by filling out this form

Following Along
You will need a way to follow the conversations. Many folks use a third-party Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and have a column set up to search for #edchat so they see all the tweets during the conversation. Others use  services like Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to follow the chats. These work every well and will auto include the hashtag when tweeting, which can be handy. 

The archive is usually posted by the next day and it includes all the tweets during the hour time span. Archives of all chats are up at and are viewable any time. (To be honest, I usually have to go back to the archive to read up on everything that happened.)

You can't follow every conversation during #edchat. We average about 200-300 active participants a week and over 1500 tweets for the hour. (Most of the time those numbers are much, much higher.) So following everything is nearly an impossibility. We recommend tossing out an idea or two and see who latches on. Or just engage with someone(s). Everyone, for the most part, who comes to #edchat is open minded and wants to discuss what the topic is and offer up their thoughts on it. So push someone's thinking or better yet, have yours pushed back. 

#edchat is just a small part of a greater education community that regularly engages in conversations to make learning better for kids. We are big believers in action after the chat and encourage our participants to go out and do something as a result of the chat and blog/tweet about it and share it with the world. The chat is our opportunity to engage and think and share but it means nothing if we don't do. So thats why you regularly see people use the #edchat hashtag during other parts of the week to share what they are doing or thinking or saying. 

I am proud of #edchat and the direction it has gone and continues to go. Each week I get to talk to new folks and hear of amazing things that are going on in schools and districts around the world and engage in meaningful conversations about a wide range of educational topics. 

I hope you'll join us!
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