Social Media at its best is interactive and sparks dialogue, discussion, debate, questions and the opportunity for social learning with others. Of course it can also be useful to both broadcast useful information and be the conduit to find such information. One way of interacting is taking part in a live tweet chat. It is a rewarding way to spend an hour and an opportunity to learn with others.
What is a tweet chat?
A tweet chat is a virtual live event which is usually focused around a pre-determined topic and a series of questions. This can be a one-off or a a regular event that happens at the same time/day of the week. Typically a chat lasts for an hour. Each tweet chat is given a hashtag which is a pre-chosen word preceded with #. For example #LTHEchat (see below). The facilitator of the chat will include the hashtag in all questions raised during the chat and participants should include the hashtag in their answers. This means that tweets containing the hashtag can be filtered from other tweets. To do this participants simply need to search for the hashtag within Twitter.
How do you join in?
- First of all identify a tweet chat that you are interested in. This may have been promoted or one that you happen upon as people you follow are tweeting about it.
- Open Twitter and search for the tweet chat hashtag to filter the chat tweets. It may also be helpful to open a second Twitter tab and search for the Twitter account posting the questions.
- Look for the questions posted and post your answer, remembering to include the chat hashtag within your tweet. You may also be asked to include A1, A2, A3 etc, to indicate which question you are answering.
- You can also respond to others people’s answers by adding to the point made, challenging it or questioning it if you need more clarification – just as you would in a face to face conversation. The only difference is the brevity! You only have 140 characters and need to use some of these for the hashtag.
An example of a tweet chat
#LTHEchat is short for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education chat. This tweetchat was created by the community for the comunity. Details can be found at http://lthechat.com/ and by following @LTHEchat. Each week there is a different topic relating to learning and teaching. Following the chat, the tweets are curated using Storify and saved as an archive story of the chat.
These can be found at https://storify.com/LTHEchat
So why join a chat?
Tweet chats provide a great opportunity to learn with other educators sharing an interest in learning and teaching, or any topic that relates to your discipline, hobbies or learning focus. You can then build your connections by following interesting people, who when they see you participating are likely to follow you back. This helps to build your personal learning communities and networks.
During the chat not only do participants answer the questions, they share links to valuable resources such as papers, books, websites, podcasts and videos relating to the topic being discussed. As you see these, you can favourite the tweet to go back to later.
If you are new to tweetchats, then by all means ‘listen in’ and get a feel for the conversations taking place. It will at first appear to be very busy, however you will get used to the flow very quickly and before you know it want to engage in the rich conversations.