I have participated in myriad education chats and running chats on Twitter. Newer to Twitter as an educator than most chat moderators I follow, I had no idea what to expect. How different could it be than simply participating in a chat? Now that I’ve hosted my first Twitter chat I am here to report back on what I have learned from being a chat moderator.
On Pace: Chat participants often tweet about the speed of popular chats and how hard it is to keep up with all of the conversation threads in the moment. Services like Storify and Participate Learning exist in part to keep a record of tweets and resources to combat this pace problem. I had planned to start with introductions at 7:30 pm CT and then launch six questions, one every ten minutes, starting at 7:35 pm. By the time I had launched a question, switched to @lesliefarooq to retweet, and switched back to @LLLchat to read, retweet, favorite, and reply to participant answers it was nearly time to launch another question. The chat might have lasted an hour, but it felt like five minutes to me in the moment. I did not have time to stop and think nor contribute as many replies as I normally would as a chat participant.
On Engagement: Chat participants engage with each other and that’s the main point, but it feels like the sun is shining down on you when the moderator notices your tweet in any way, especially if they retweet or reply. I wanted to give attention to all of the participants because I know a chat can be very lonely if answers go unnoticed. I have felt this way as a chat participant, and I did not want anyone to feel ignored. Did I accomplish my goal? Though I retweeted many answers and replied to a few, I have no way of knowing whether I left most participants feeling great, good, or just meh. My suspicion is that there are myriad educational Twitter chats because we all want to find our niche and be heard. Is there room for #LLLchat in this mix of great chats? Only time will tell.
On Timing: I picked the original time, Tuesday at 7:30 pm CT, back in June 2015 when I first started planning this chat. I did not want it to interfere in any way with my favorite chats, such as #tlap, #COLchat, and #WeirdEd. The thing is, because there are simply so many chats with new ones coming online all the time, it overlapped with #totallyrossome, #RuralEdChat, and #DareToBe. I am a frequent participant in two of these chats and they are all very popular. When is a good time to start a new educational Twitter chat? The answer is probably never unless you’ve written a book or have a 5K plus following; you might not get the participant momentum you need to make a chat successful. Besides, even if I wanted to change the time now the educational Twitter chats calendar took three months to register my chat (I asked in June and it was finally added at the end of September 2015). It’s just not that easy to pick a time or make any updated information available quickly.
On Topic: Lifelong Learning is a worthwhile topic; it is overarching, it predates current educational jargon, and it implies that education does not end when our formal schooling does, an absolute truth. There are a lot of places we could take this chat together. Are you interested? Stay tuned!