Saturday, February 17, 2018

Let's Chat -- Who, What, When, Why and How?

One of the great capabilities of Twitter is "live chats." If this is a new concept for you, I'm going to try to explain the ins and outs and convince you to join in.

First, let's cover What and When?

A live Twitter chat is an opportunity for a group to carry on an interactive discussion in tweets, made possible by all the participants searching for and posting using the same hashtag. It takes place at an appointed/announced time. Usually they are scheduled on an ongoing basis, once a month, twice a month, or even weekly, always on the same day and at the same time. For example, the live #CALIBChat is now at 5 PM - 5:30 PM PT the 4th Thursday of each month, so the next one is this Thursday, February 22. And, there is always a specific topic and several questions for each chat. The next #CALIBChat topic will be "Growth & Goals." Sometimes, though, a group will schedule a single chat. AASL, for example, has scheduled periodic chats related to the new Standards, using the hashtag #AASLStandards.

So, there is always a hashtag used to identify the chat, enabling you to follow the discussion by searching for the hashtag, selecting Latest, and watching the tweets with that hashtag as people post. You join in by posting tweets that include that same hashtag. That way, everyone in the chat sees your tweets.

Next, Why? 

There are so many good reasons to participate in live chats! Here are just a few:

  • Professional Development: Twitter chats are an excellent way to get a quick dose of professional development online, without a big time commitment or any travel time. And, all the responses and resources are recorded in Twitter, so you can go back and find them later if you like. 
  • Peer-Driven: The topics and content of chats always comes from others with the same interests, so they are never pedantic or dull. They always include thoughts and real-world examples from peers. You can find a group of peers for virtually any topic through Twitter chats. For one way to find chats on different topics, search
  • Connections: They enable you to make connections with colleagues. Many of us have "met" each other in live chats and built our PLN's (Personal Learning Networks) that way. When I participate in a chat, I always try to start following any people new to me who contribute positive content to the chat. And, I usually get new Twitter followers that way. I also get to reconnect with existing members of my PLN, strengthening our relationships and ties. 
  • Build Community: Twitter chats serve as an easy way for a community, such as a regional group of librarians, to share with each other, brainstorm ideas, grow together, and strengthen their ties. 

And, How? 

Here's a screencast sharing how to participate:

Or, if you prefer to use Tweetdeck, here's how to do that: 

Prefer the text version? Here you go: 
  1. Get on Twitter just before the appointed time and search for the hashtag.
  2. Click the Latest option to view all the live tweets.
  3. You will see tweets from the moderators. All our tweets will include the chat hashtag.
  4. When the moderators ask you to introduce yourself, share where you work, what level your students are, and anything else you like. 
  5. Stand by for Question 1. When you see it, think about an answer, and compose one, being sure to include A1 at the beginning of your tweet, and the chat hashtag at the end or somewhere in the tweet. It's okay to give more than one answer, too!
  6. Watch the other answers posted by participants, and respond with comments, doing your best to keep the A1, A2, or other response number and the hashtag in all your responses. Remember that if you forget to include the hashtag, your comments will probably be missed by the participants. We all make that mistake at times, so don't fret, but you might want to repeat your tweet and include it. (You can't edit a tweet, but you can always create a new one.)
  7. Continue reading and responding to each new question.
  8. Have fun! Don't worry if you miss something. Just read and respond to what you can. The moderator typically archives the chat, and you can also simply search for the hashtag later. 

Finally, the Who:

#CALIBChat needs YOU to help build our California and beyond school library community. Help yourself and your colleagues grow. Become a Twitter chat participant! So, please join Katie McNamara (@katiejmcnamara) and me this Thursday, February 22, from 5pm-5:30pm PT. Californians and non-Californians alike are welcome! Give just a half hour of your time to grow and help others do so!

So ....

And, make it a +1 -- pass this on, and invite a friend (or even more) to grow with us.

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