Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter. It has approximately one hundred million active users daily. A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#). Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.
This post is addressed to English language teachers across Canada. CdnELTchat, formerly known as LINCchat, is a Twitter chat group that discusses relevant issues each month on the social media platform, Twitter. It was started by Nathan Hall and Svetlana Lupasco in 2015. The team behind #CdnELTchat is: Augusta Avram (BC), Jennifer Chow (BC), Bonnie Jean Nicholas (AB), and Svetlana Lupasco (ON). For more current information about #CdnELTchat, see their latest summary at https://bcteal.wordpress.com.
Three ways to participate in a Twitter chat
- Lurk and follow the conversation as it unfolds on Twitter in real-time. This involves opening your Twitter account and typing #CdnELTchat into the twitter search text box. Continue by clicking on the Search or magnifying glass icon. A reverse chronological listing of #CdnELTchat related tweets appear on the screen, under the most popular or a pinned tweet. To best view the chat session, it is suggested that you click on the Latest menu item to view the discussion in chronological order. From this point you can sip on your tea and watch the discussion, take notes or click on hyperlinks to resources that may be shared during the session. #CdnELTchats are only one hour twice a month, so it is not a huge time commitment and you have the opportunity to develop in various aspects of your profession.
- At your convenience open your Twitter account and search for the hashtag (in this case #CdnELTchat). Just under the hashtag title on the Twitter page, click on the menu item Latest. This sorts the discussions sequentially. Scroll down to the first welcome tweet from the group leader, at the start time and then read each Tweet upwards. This way, you can lurk at your own time, place and pace. Alternatively, you can access older #CdnELTchat Twitter chat discussion summaries at the BC TEAL blog. Past LINCchat sessions are available through the Tutlea group #LINCchat.
- Actively participate in the chat. In this case you should have an interest in the topic, visit the hashtag (#CdnELTchat) before the event to read the discussion questions. In a recent chat, the questions were shared before the event using a Padlet board. Participants were encouraged to comment and even add their own queries. Participants can pop in a little early and post a personal introduction if it is their first time. Once the appointed time was reached, the Twitter chat moderator introduces her/himself and a few ground rules and invites the conversation to commence.As participants post their thoughts via tweets, others respond by replying to tweets and also including the hashtag in their tweets. This ensures that the conversation flows on the twitter screen. Participants must be aware that there may be lag time due to the others reading and digesting a tweet, and inputting a reply to that tweet. To promote order to Twitter chats an indicator of the question being address is often included in a tweet, such as Q2 for question two. This interleaving of discussion in real-time is normal and after a few experiences is expected. The moderator moves the discussion from question to question as the session moves forward. At the end of the session, the moderator condenses the discussion and thanks everyone for participating. If there are useful resources shared, these can be repeated in a final tweet.
You might not think that Twitter chats are for you, but you never know until you try. They might be an efficient way for you to network and grow in your profession. Even if you review the summary and posted resources from a Twitter chat, you may find treasure that can make your teaching experience more engaging and rewarding. Thanks to Svetlana and Nathan for pioneering this movement for ELT instructors across Canada. There are a number of Twitter chats for education listed and described by Diana Fingal on behalf of the ISTE organization. See the link below. If you have any comments about Twitter chats, please leave a comment below.
BC TEAL Blog. How to join a Twitter chat. https://bcteal.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/how-to-join-a-twitter-chat/
BC TEAL. CHAT Summaries. https://bcteal.wordpress.com
Diana Fingal. 40 education Twitter chats worth your time. https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=7
Nadeen Sullivan. Cool Tools Collaborating with Padlet. http://blog.teslontario.org/cool-tools-collaborating-with-padlet
Tutela #LINCchat group. https://tutela.ca/GroupHome?organicgroup=16334