Reflections About Twitter Chats by Meredith Johnson
What is all this noise about Twitter chats for educators? This past week I briefly scrolled through over 200 education hashtags to review the content they were posting. One after another, my cursor flew across all those tweets. It was an interesting task and I wanted to write a blog post to share with you what I learned. Is Twitter transforming before our eyes?
Are there repetitions from one hashtag to another? You bet there are! A great deal of what is shared between chats could be considered advertising. People reach out to others to sell a product, encourage them to go to a conference, participate in their chat, read an article or blog they wrote, and keep them up to date with books that have been written. At times, moderators post tweets between chats sharing who the next guest/topic would be or the name of some amazing educator who agrees to be a guest moderator. There could be a graphic sharing the change in a date/time/occurrence of a chat. All this information shared for about 150 education chats that are on Twitter! Amazing!
What are some of the interesting pieces of chat information I noticed? I have been active on Twitter since March, 2012 – seven years and it has been very interesting to watch Twitter evolve. After searching out a hashtag that I hadn’t seen before from a list of Twitter chats, and scrolling through the most recent tweets, I noticed others seemed to “grab” that hashtag title, glop it with about half a dozen more, and tweet out information they believe is important in hopes of reaching the largest amount of people in one message. This could certainly be an effective way to communicate but there is one huge problem – no one ever goes to that hashtag as the chat stopped occurring years ago. Perhaps, another person notices this tweet, and they also cut and paste the hashtag into a message they want to share – the ineffective sharing of information continues! Now, if they thought about what target audience might be interested, searched out that chat hashtag and used it to share a message, this sure would increase effectiveness!
There are countless reasons why chats drop to the wayside in Twitter Land hallways. Often people begin a hashtag, start a chat, promote whatever mission they’re on and then move to the next project in their lives and forget about it. It will be interesting to see if this process increases during the next year.
How I would love to do a study on the number of teachers using Twitter from each State! I mention this as I have noticed the tweets being shared by specific State hashtags such as #OhioEdChat or #TxEd different greatly from West Virginia or Alabama. What factors play a role in one State in our country having teachers so active in Twitter chat participation and another not? Is it their overall focus on professional learning of educators? Are teachers in only a few states granted professional development credit toward certification renewal for participation in Twitter chats? Are the chat moderators from those States different in some way? I bet you could make a few guesses yourself as to why this happens.
I wonder about several things ….
Where is the higher education voice in Twitter chats?
Why are topics of chats/questions so similar?
Use of conference hashtags has increased tremendously – what direction will this trend take?
How important is it to focus on tweeting high-quality, valuable content or are “feel good” tweets just as important?
How are teachers making decisions about which chats to join? What might cause them to return week after week?
What aspect of Twitter chats do you wonder about?
How will this social media platform adjust over the next year to better meet the needs of those who use it?
I hope you will find the database of education Twitter chats I created helpful and share it out in tweets you create with others.