Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Facilitating a twitter chat
I've now participated in three Twitter chat sessions. The first time was I late, I arrived on the scene towards the end. The second I could not really follow well, I saw all these separate and short messages. I pulled out. The third time was my lucky time. I used tweetdeck to follow the hashtag, did not continue working simultaneously but devoted myself to the chat. It was the conversation that Catharinus Doornbos, Trainer at Station-to-station and initiator of discussion Tuesday on ICT and education. I liked it. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that you mainly talk with the facilitator and less as a group. I've interviewed Rinus about his way of facilitating a twitter chat.
Why did you start facilitating Twitter Chats?
It started with a movie that I saw about Twitter Tuesday for the U.S. Teachers. By using a hashtag (#) in all tweets, the discussion can be followed by everyone. In these discussions I came to great ideas and got to know lots of useful websites with many resources and tools for education. I wrote an article on the edublogs of Netwijs. I said jokingly, that we could start a twitter Tuesday in the Netherlands. Then I received some positive comments. Because we in our department had just talked about innovations in education and ICT and wanted to devote more attention to it, I asked my colleagues to support my idea.
How have you started your twitter Tuesday ?
I selected a start date and time and almost every day via Twitter communicate these with the use of the hashtag # netwijs. That triggered new responses. The number of active participants now grows slowly. The number of followers too. I notice more participation and a subsequent rise of personal followers after the debate. Yet, the participants are mainly people who in one way or another professional involved in education and ICT, but not teacher. There are few teachers participating. Maybe it is lack of time, perhaps it is by ignorance.
How do you facilitate your own chat?
As moderator I start the discussion with a question or statement. Then I try to ask for responses from participants by probing and bringing in other perspectives. In this respect there is no difference with leading a face-to-face discussion. The added problem is that you have only 140 characters for use in your tweet or actually less, because you must use the hashtag. You must really be to-the-point. The advantage is that you have no other incentives, such as facial expressions, gestures, or people who talk. Everyone is now in an equal position to contribute and free to comment on they want to comment on. I make sure that I have read some materials on the subject and have some nice links ready to throw into the discussion when it is quiet. During the discussion, I am regularly searching the web. During a simple discussion you have that opportunity. Afterwards, you can read everything right back, even what you've missed. This makes it very dynamic.
Are you satisfied with the results of the chats?
The result so far is that I've expanded my network considerably with people I would never have met otherwise! We share knowledge with each other. In addition, our blog got much more attention. We use the name of our department as hashtag (# netwijs), hence we ensure branding and we reinforce our image, that we have knowledge of education, ICT and innovation.