If you missed the hype leading up to last night’s Twitter chat with the admins of #digcit, then check out the video of the #Digcit Sneak Peek. This is the first chat of the new year and also the first I was involved in. However, as these chats are scheduled to take place the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from 7pm-8pm EST, I plan on connecting with these inspiring educators during each chat!
Jennifer Scheffer (@jlscheffer on Twitter) first contacted me in December with some awesome ideas she has in store for 2014 and I cannot wait to start sharing with my fellow bloggers once more has been planned out! Until then, check out Jenn’s stuff and the cool things she shares about her students and the great work they are accomplishing in the classroom!
If you follow me on Twitter, I am sure that your feed was bombarded with retweets and tweets last night ending in #digcit. And if you don’t follow me, then do that now! My handle is @paige_woodard. A little shameless self-advertising never hurt anyone! 🙂 Now that you follow me, I can explain what #digcit means and also share with you the awesome responses I read from some cool educators throughout the chat!
I have never been involved in a Twitter chat before last night and I must say it is not easy keeping up with all of the responses! #Digcit had at least ten people communicating at once and it was beautifully chaotic and inspiring all at once. Of course I gained a few followers, but the real gain from this experience is the wise words I received from others with similar–or even contradicting–ideas to my own. I favorited more tweets last night than I have in my entire Twitter career. And it was awesome.
Before I recount the discussion last night, I want to underscore what exactly a Twitter chat entails and how it can benefit you. Disclaimer: My advice is only based on the chat I had last night, so others may run in a different fashion.
A chat begins with a moderator and a hashtag (last night, we used #digcit). The moderator facilitates the conversation and questions to be answered by users following the hashtag. Jennifer Scheffer was the moderator and she asked a series of six questions that she outlined in a tweet before seven o’clock. Preceding the chat, Jenn tweeted, “Tonight we’ll be discussing how social media can be used in schools & ow we can help students build PLN’s #digcit.” This is what users will base their expectations on in preparation to the live chat, so it is a good idea to prep your discussion with an outline of the topic(s) of the conversation. Additionally, Jenn prepared the video introducing this post and shared it on Twitter at least a week in advance of the chat. This alerted her followers that a chat was going to take place and outlined the topics that were to be discussed. This was especially crucial for #digcit because it was the first chat of the new year.
During this chat, Jenn, taking on the role of moderator, also had the job of determining when the next question should be posed. This could prove difficult, as you do not want to ask too many questions in too small of a time span or let there be a lull in the conversation during a live chat. Timing is key. Engage with your audience and really feel how much input they are willing to provide on a specific topic. Jenn successfully filled the one hour time slot with six questions, so you can use that as a gauge for your own chat depending on your time frame.
In order to respond to the questions, labeled Q1, Q2, Q3, etc., users following the hashtag at the end of the moderators’ tweets will tweet “A1 ____ #(blank),” “A2 _____ #(blank),” etc. This way, if you search the hashtag you can see everyone else’s responses as well as the next question!
As I learned from my first #digcit experience, Twitter chats are extremely useful in attracting the opinions of numerous individuals all at once. Tweets are only 140 characters long, so the information is concise and easy to compile for later use. All of the users that are following the hashtag are interested in the same topics you are–whichever side of the argument they are on–and engaging in discussion with them will only enhance your personal mission. Though the questions posed by the moderator may not be the same questions you want to ask, by involving yourself in the chat, you are creating an opportunity to approach another person later and say, “Hey I saw your opinions during the #(blank) chat and wanted to collaborate with you on (blank).”
Now that I believe I have covered all of the basics on what a Twitter chat is, let’s talk about the awesome conversation that occurred last night! Here are the questions:
Q1: Why should social media be allowed in schools? ‘
Mark Babbitt @YouTernMark “The world has gone social. Excluding our schools from digital communication is like not allowing the internet. #digcit”
Stephane Crete @StephaneCrete “A1: How can we NOT allow it? TONS of resources + connections! Isn’t school supposed to prepare Ss for their future? #digcit“
Q2: How can we get educators, admins, and parents to believe in the benefits of SM?
Jarred Haas @jarredhaas “A2: Model it and show its potential. Do many optional trainings about how teachers and parents can sign up and use social media. #digcit”
Christina Luce @ChristinaMLuce “A2: We have to engage & share. I demo at back to school night & open house. Provide workshops. #digcit”
Q3: How can students use social media to build their personal brands?
Sandy Kendell @EdTechSandyK “A3: Students can use a blog to create a portfolio of their best work. Good when applying to college. #digcit”
Josie Ahlquist @josiealquist “A3 Students should be fostered how 2 curate a blog, share resources & network online and follow-through with digital decision making #digcit”
Q4: How can students use Social Media for self-directed learning and networking?
Mareena Kohtala @mareenakohtala “A4 students can follow experts in their areas of interest, post questions, and follow blogs. #digcit“
Samantha Bresnahan @slbresnahan1 “A4 I use SM to follow experts, blogs, and companies that I can learn from. Chats like this also help! #digcit”
Q5: Is it necessary to have “personal” and “professional” social media accounts?
Samantha Bresnahan @slbresnahan1 “A5 No. One account should show who you are, your passions, and professional info. Personal info is for texting! #digcit“
Susan M. Bearden @s_bearden “A5: I use Twitter professionally, facebook personally…but don’t post anything anywhere that I wouldn’t want appearing on 6:00 news #digcit”
Josie Ahlquist @josieahlquist “A5 it is a personal decision. Reflect what intent is on both, ensure authenticity, b proud of your content, it should reflect real U #digcit”
Q6: What advice do you have for HS/college Ss who want to use SM to start building their PLN’s?
Glenn Robbins @Glennr1809 “A6 Clean it up! Would you want someone like u in ur college or workplace. Ask urself “how will history remember me?” #digcit”
Mike Ribble @digcitizen “Q6: Take your time, really think before you post anything. Teen years are a different time, I am afraid how I might have used SM #digcit”
If you search #digcit on Twitter and click “All” searches, you can scroll down to the entire conversation that took place last night (January 8th); however, I have provided a few responses that spoke to me during the chat or ones that provide a view from the opposing side.
My personal, succinct answers for the posed questions are short and simple: Look what I am doing and what tools got me here. Social media has not only developed my personal brand in areas I never expected, but has provided me opportunities to network and collaborate with influential educators that share my same passions and views. Yes, I have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional use, and as I explained last night, this allows me to distinguish myself as a person with a variety of interests and hobbies aside from my social media education mission. Of course I censor what I post on any social media site, but my personal account allows for a varied content distinct from my passion for social media. And for any student who wants to delve into their own passion and build their own PLN, my advice is to find a passion early and establish yourself within a network of passionate professionals. Allow them to mentor you and give you advice, as it will only enhance your own journey. Plus, you can sometimes avoid the mistakes they have made and sidestep a few barriers!