Twitter Chats Unhinged: Rejuvenating the Purpose

Twitter Chats of the Past

Twitter chats have become one of the most popular edu-tools and catalysts for change in education. Professional networks, curated resources, realtime information, professional growth are power packed into 140 characters of learning. These events bring like-minded educators from all over the world to share and receive resources pertaining to a variety of educational topics. All good things, right?

My Frustration: What is the current state of Twitter chats?

Although designed with powerful potential, Twitter chats have become knowledge-based learning for educators. Understanding that knowledge-based activities are the foundation of learning, at what point do we increase the depth of learning and of sharing ideas within Twitter chats?  Many Twitter chats ask participants to list, identify, name, or define as a response. Rarely have I encountered a chat that calls for evaluating, creating meaning, constructing new ideas, etc. Benjamin Bloom would not be proud! Almost always a Twitter chat follows a Q1, Q2, A1, A2 format. But why? Why must we limit learning to six questions and six answers? Where is the negotiating of meaning on a Twitter chat? Why can’t a chat mirror the learning continuum – emphasizing that learning does not have a finite end – mimicking what we want to see in classrooms everyday?

The Solution: A genuine approach to planning and learning during Twitter Chats

  1. What do you want participants to understand  years from now?
  2. What are the driving questions to support the big picture (or the Understandings)?
  3. Select a Twitter format to support the purpose. (click on the link here to understand the types of formats)
    • Question & Answer
    • Topic & Conversation
    • Google Doc’ing (Curating Resources)
    • Problem & Solutions
    • Devil’s Advocate
    • EdCamp Style
  4. How will you measure information learned, shared, and applied?

Twitter Chats 2.0

Twitter Chats must move beyond being host-driven to participant-centered. We must design and measure learning in all arenas, including Twitter chats, to an educational best practice standard. Chats each week should be fluid and responsive to the needs of the audience/participants. Why wouldn’t responsive teaching apply to Twitter Chats? The next generation of edu-chats must mirror these best practices – what we know to be true in the classroom. The question is – who will accepted the challenge of changing the Twitter culture?

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