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[Social Media] Staying Connected with Educator Network Twitter Chats

[Social Media] Staying Connected with Educator Network Twitter Chats

I came to the world of technology late, and I was kicking and screaming. When I was getting my undergraduate degree, there were computers in the science building and large floppy disks that tended to erase hours of writing when they slipped off my stack of books and fell to the floor. Two years after I graduated, my university was calling me for a donation to run phone lines (translation: lines for Internet connectivity) into each dorm room. I am not kidding, I missed the cool stuff by two years!

I began to see this change in education with various classroom supports in the form of digital games and the ability to use Instant Messenger with other teachers I knew. This clearly was the advent of connected teaching, even if I didn’t know it at the time. 

My title is now “Curriculum Manager for the Educator Network,” which means that a large part of my job is connecting educators to Edmentum and to each other. In this day and age, connecting should be easy and productive, but finding the right place to start and the right medium can be daunting. So, I’m here to try it all. 

Being left behind in almost every way tech-wise, it feels absolutely bewildering that I host chats on Twitter for Edmentum’s Educator Network, but I do. Welcome to my reality! Hosting a Twitter chat means I had to learn to tweet, understand an audience, and figure out how to host a session. It is something that is not part of my DNA but more of a process in the making.

Professional growth aside, this development is phenomenal, connecting educators all over the world in 280 characters or less. In June, Edmentum ran our first live Twitter chat (or tweet chat), and due to its success, we will be hosting another on Thursday, July 26, at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

Our first chat was centered around themes from ISTE 2018, and it also included general questions that educators were asking at the conference. I asked respondents to use the following hashtags during our conversation: #EducatorFirst, #EdmentumandISTE, and #ISTEandEdmentum. Here are a few of the questions and responses from our first-ever tweet chat.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 4

We heard from a number of educators and watched as many more educators “lurked” in the background by liking and retweeting the responses. The tweet chat only lasted 30 minutes, but I’m amazed at how we were able to connect, spark conversation, and collect information in that short timeframe. I imagine that a Twitter chat is like a good version of speed dating (if there was ever a good version of that).

Because I’ve had a large learning curve to technology my entire professional career, it was hard to initially understand why educators would be interested in this particular type of content. After this event, I was excited about how it felt and overwhelmed with the potential. I could simply pose a question that I have been struggling with, and my phone chirps in a wealth of answers!

Think about your learners—they are connected. These students develop networks and shared learning through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. They use collaborative online spaces and social media to engage in conversations across the world and bring that learning back to the classroom. Educators should take advantage of the same opportunities.   

Educators, whether through Twitter, Facebook, or other social mediums, find and connect with other educators from all over the world who share their passion, concerns, interests, and challenges. A connected educator is more of an attitude than anything else. Connecting is about being open to the ideas of others and having the confidence to share one’s own ideas. Educators are able to lift up each other, which is a display of the goal of education at its finest. Connecting is about educators seeking new opportunities and resources to grow as a professional—opening the classroom door to a collaborative group of experts. It is amazing to see how leveraging social media can help us grow as professionals and teaching can be reinforced by others who support the common goal of education. 

Hosting a tweet chat should not be daunting. I am of the opinion that, if I can do it, anyone can. Be brave. Imagine the advantages of:   

  • A principal or district personnel tweeting out daily messages about school schedules and important parent reminders or even hosting a tweet chat to discuss important local topics or gain input from parents
  • Teachers hosting a tweet chat to inform parents about classroom lessons or office hours, to discuss their upcoming lessons or topics, and to connect with other educators across the country who teach the same subject or grade level
  • Teachers using Twitter to share photos (with consent) of their classroom enjoying a fun activity, field trip, and to highlight the awesome work of their students

We know that teacher time is precious, so giving them another thing to do is unrealistic. However, the thing about connected educators is that once they are connected, the workload is lifted, supports are put in place, and the interaction becomes enjoyable. There is fun in sharing ideas and learning new things. Plus, Twitter is not scary; it can all be accessed from a baseball game, from band practice, and from the comfort of your own couch.

We will host our second Twitter chat on Thursday, July 26, at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the @EdmentumNetwork, centered around the topic of formative assessment. To participate in the chat, simply reply to any of the questions asked during or after the chat. Use the hashtag #EdNetworkChat (and, for this session, #testing) in your replies. Reply to the initial question or to other educators to share your feedback, input, and suggestions by simply clicking the conversation button at the bottom left of the tweet. Also, if the question is labeled as “Q1,” you can include “A1” in your response. We want to create a warm and welcoming community of educators during our Twitter chats, so good manners from participants are expected and appreciated.

Looking to join the Educator Network? Follow us on Twitter: @EdmentumNetwork. Be sure to keep an eye out for more upcoming Twitter chats!