Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Twitter Chats Matter

As a co-founder of #edchat and a life-long learner I've had the opportunity to be a part of 100's of Twitter chats over the past 5 years. From the beginning of #edchat when it was just a few people chatting to now state and specialized chats that get 100's of people following, these chats matter.

But why?

Meeting New People-Social media is called that for a reason. Twitter chats expose you to colleagues and friends you might not otherwise engage with. As I've written before, hashtags are powerful. While you might not follow me, we can still engage in a meaningful conversation because the hashtag connects us. One-way conversations don't really work on Twitter. I find engaging with new voices one of the reasons I keep coming back to Twitter chats.

Hearing New Ideas-These new colleagues that you are engaging with will bring new ideas to the table. Twitter chats not only expose us to new people, but we hear new ideas that could be a great takeaway afterwards. I've had many experiences where after I chat I think what great ideas to share with my teachers or administrators or something new I wanted to try for my own professional learning. This exposure to new ideas and sharing of what works is what drives many to engage in Twitter chats

Opposing View Points-Twitter chats often get knocked as "an echo chamber" or "pats on the back." Sure, are there times when everyone agrees? Definitely. When it comes to how students should be learning or how students should be engaging with technology, many people in the Twitter space have similar ideas or thinking. But the reality is we all are doing something different and even thinking a different way. This is my favorite part of Twitter chats. I don't engage with people because we all think the same. That would be boring and frankly we wouldn't learn anything. I engage because I want my thinking to be pushed. I want to see an opposing view point. I want to learn.

Finding New Resources-It usually never fails. I sit down to a Twitter chat and by the time I am done my Pocket list or Evernote notebook has grown exponentially because of the number of blog posts, new tools, videos and more that are shared. Because of the educators involved, the new ideas and the opposing view points, I will find a new blog to read, video to watch or website to check out. These are not only times for me to push my thinking, they are times for me to be a learner too. And I like that.

Creating Action-Since Twitter chats provide valuable information, resources and thinking, many take to blogs afterwards to chronicle what they are doing as a result of their conversations. I am a believer in establishing, at the end of the chat, what you are going to do as a result of your conversation. Turn your words into actions and then report back. Write a post on your blog, tweet out using the hashtag, share your learning with someone else. Don't let the benefits of the chat stay with you. Share them with the world.

What about you? Are you drawn to Twitter chats for a particular reason? What benefit do they provide you and your learning? What is your favorite Twitter chat(s)? Leave some comments below.

Looking for a chat to join? Check out the official EDU Twitter Chats List:

Happy chatting!

photo credit: eclecticlibrarian via photopin cc
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