Using Twitter Chats for Class Discussions and Program Community Building
Concurrent Session 6
This session will focus on using Twitter Chats in place of discussion forums and as a community building tool. Session participants will learn about Twitter Chats, see how we’ve used them in our courses and our program, learn about tools to support Twitter Chats, and participate in a Twitter Chat.
Twitter Chats are used by many professionals, organizations, and hobby enthusiasts as a means of professional and personal learning. Twitter Chats are intentional, synchronous conversations over Twitter during a bounded period of time using a specific hashtag for the event or group. For example, K-12 teachers interested in using technology in their teaching gather for the #edtechchat every Monday at 8pm Eastern. For an hour, there is a guided discussion in which the facilitator of the chat presents questions to the group and the group engages in conversation around those questions. People hop in and out as needed, and can access the conversation on almost any device. Each post in the Ed Tech Twitter Chat contains the hashtag #edtechchat which can be searched on and found after the chat is over.
We have explored using Twitter Chats for two specific purposes in our fully online Instructional Technology graduate program. First, several instructors use Twitter Chats in place of discussion forums and typical synchronous sessions. Since our students are all practicing teachers, instructors host the Twitter Chats in the evening. Students join in from wherever they are: home, their car, baseball fields, or wherever. Questions prompt students to connect course concepts to their own experiences and are designed to stir debate.
Another way we have used Twitter Chats is for community building in our Ed.D. program. Both students and faculty participate in these chats. Twitter Chat topics have included sharing research interests, finding and curating resources and readings, developing a Professional Learning Network, and a Q&A between new and veteran students. These Twitter Chats have also been held in the evening in order to support our working students and students have attended from a wide variety of settings.
Participants in this session will:
- Learn what Twitter Chats are and how to participate in them
- Explore how to use a Twitter Chat to replace standard discussion forums
- See how to use a Twitter Chat to build community in a course or program
- Learn about strategies such as backchannels to support Twitter Chats
- Experience using tools such as Twitter, Canva, and Tweetdeck to support Twitter Chats
- Discuss and share why and how they might use Twitter Chats in their own work
- See under the hood on how to host a Twitter Chat
- Participate in an actual Twitter Chat!
The first part of the session will be presenter focused with the two presenters discussing the concept of Twitter Chats, their use of Twitter Chats for student learning and program community building, and the tools we use to help host Twitter Chats. Examples of Twitter Chats will be provided. We will then share the steps one needs to take to host a Twitter Chat. The last 1/3-1/2 of the session will be hands-on with participants participating in a Twitter Chat while the presenters demonstrate how to host a Twitter Chat. Presenters will also go around, helping participants with questions about tools used as needed.
As a fully online program, finding ways to get students to interact and get to know one another is incredibly important. Whether it be in a class setting or outside of classwork, Twitter Chats are one way we can help build those connections student to student and student to faculty. The idea and resource sharing that occurs is important, but the camaraderie and the personal connections that are made are even more so. Twitter Chats have become a fun and important part of the work we do to support student learning and program community.