Hacking Live Chats With 4 Twitter Gurus

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Want to learn something new, right now? Did you know that powerful information, opinions, and resources are a click away? Where is this wealth of knowledge? In a live Twitter chat.

If you know Twitter and understand the hashtag, you know how easy it is to search any #hashtag on Twitter. Or, if you see a tweet with a hashtag link, like the one pictured below, you can simply click that link and be taken to a Twitter stream, or page, with all tweets containing that hashtag.


The Twitter hashtag–created in seconds when you add the hashtag (pound/number sign) in front of a word or phrase–generates an ongoing conversation about the topic that is suggested by the hashtag. For example, #edchat is a chat that is about all things related to education, and #edtech is about all things related to education technology. Want to talk to like-minded people about Hillary Clinton? Check out #Hillz on Twitter.

Live Twitter Chats

Typically scheduled on a particular date and time, live Twitter chats bring like minded people together to engage in a chatroom-type discussion. This puts the chat and your tweets in real time, as opposed to “slow” Twitter chats, in which you can tweet to a hashtag topic, but others may not see your tweet until a later time; or they may never see it.

Live Twitter chats create the feeling that you’re actually in a room with everyone joining the conversation. This impacts teaching and learning in interesting and powerful ways.

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What live chat gurus say

Tom Whitby, known as @tomwhitby on Twitter, is one of the most experienced live chat tweeters in the history of the social network. Whitby co-founded Twitter’s oldest live chat, #edchat. In fact, #edchat set the bar for subsequent chats, as few people understood the potential of the hashtag before stumbling across the live education discussion, which takes place twice every Tuesday–morning and evening.

When we first started this, people used to call up and ask permission to use our format. –Tom Whitby, #edchat co-founder

Not only does #edchat reach hundreds of thousands of Twitter feeds around the world weekly, the chat now transcends Twitter. Whitby and co-moderator Nancy Blair continue the weekly #edchat discussions on #Edchat Radio, extending the conversation further and amplifying the many voices tweeting to the chat each week.

School leader and author Brad Currie, @bradmcurrie, co-moderates #satchat, currently one of the most popular weekly live Twitter chats. #Satchat often attracts more than 500 education stakeholders, discussing specific topics in a structured 6-question format, hosted by a guest expert each week. It’s not uncommon for the hour-long #satchat stream to contain more than 6,000 total tweets from attendees.

The power of hashtags and the power of Twitter has brought educators together online to discuss important issues related to leadership, related to innovation, related to school culture and how we can promote the success of students. –Brad Currie, co-founder #satchat.

How to make Twitter chats actionable

Teacher, bestselling author and co-founder of #sunchat Starr Sackstein, @mssackstein on Twitter, says that live chats often lead to private connections on Twitter that can blossom into professional relationships that help people build their networks both in and out of cyberspace.

#TMchat (thinking maps) creator Connie Hamilton amplifies Sackstein’s point about the power of live Twitter chats. In the podcast episode embedded above, Hamilton explains how one live Twitter chat ultimately influenced a pedagogical change at her school. When Hamilton and a tweeter moved their live #TMchat exchanges to email, they swapped ideas and resources about using Socratic circles–typically a high school activity–with elementary students.

We started a PLC (Professional Learning Community), brought all of her materials (shared on Twitter) together and early childhood teachers in my building are now exploring and implementing Socratic Seminar in first grade. — Connie Hamilton, #TMchat creator

So, if you want to learn something right now that you can use tomorrow to improve teaching and learning, join a live Twitter chat; forge a new relationship and put a new strategy into action.

We like to call this #HackLearning. Enjoy.

#hacklearning Twitter chat

Learn more about the contributors

Read Tom Whitby’s blog and his books

Grab links to Starr Sackstein’s and Connie Hamilton’s work, located on the Hack Learning Team page

Learn all about Brad Currie on his website and read his book, 140 Twitter Tips for Educators

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