Monday, 22 September 2014

Becoming a Connected Educator

In preparation for October Connected Educator Month 2014, this is what I am doing and planning. What are you doing in October?

Looking forward to a teaching network discussion with Alan Levine on 3 Oct: Networked teachers: A story of open, connected educators

I’m following @edconnectr #CE14 and @ConnectEduNZ #CENZ14

And thanks to my colleague Nigel for the heads-up on this.

I just had my first TweetMeet with students last week. Having used twitter as a backchannel for the classes I teach, I thought it time some of us meet synchronously, following the model of #edchatnz and #whatisschool

We negotiated a time via Moodle, and logged in at 11am on Wednesday morning, using the hashtag #prof211meet

Just six of us took part, as an optional activity, and this was a nice gentle way to start out. We had a fairly unstructured discussion, talking about how things are going generally, addressing a few questions about the paper, and tentatively finding our way, swapping advice and encouragement. Some more experienced participants raised discussion questions about significant learning. The intended 30 minute slot flew by, turning into 40 minutes of live tweets and the depth of content coverage was somewhat limited.

We have continued our reflections asynchronously and in Moodle, reminding classmates who could not make the synchronous TweetMeet that they can access the tweets to review the discussion. In the meantime, we also have a general paper hashtag at #prof211 to encourage tweeting throughout the semester.

As I’ve shared with the class, I enjoyed 'talking' (i.e., tweeting) as a small group. It reminded me of times I have been at education conferences and we have used a conference hashtag (e.g., #wcelfest or #tefanz2014).

I found it went well, my initial thinking is:

Pros: - was fun, nice to be spontaneous and together, I felt it helped some people who were new to Twitter to dip their toes in, and this is in turn helpful for the upcoming report on their social media challenge. We talked about some relevant stuff like: the current module of work, use of tools, who to follow on Twitter (@mrs_hyde and @enablelearning), what we are learning and other experiences of TweetMeets.

Cons: - a bit hard to follow until you get the hang of it. Slow typing slows everything down. If the hashtag isn't added, your tweet isn't in the stream. The short character limit can be a constraint. Time went really fast and little was covered in 40 mins.

I found it helped to copy and paste the hashtag each time, and to move between my notifications and the hashtag stream so that I didn't miss anything. I alternated between replying to individuals and tweeting out to the group, which was quite satisfying.

How might we expand things next time?

I’m currently negotiating this with the class, and we are thinking next time around we might:

  • Extend the time, perhaps to an hour. Participants can always dip in and out during the time, as well as revisiting later. We are planning an evening timeslot next time around, to cater for those who work fulltime and have children. We can schedule TweetMeets at various times to spread the opportunities, just as we do with other synchronous events such as our eCoffice meetings via Moodle chat.
  • We are thinking a focus question or 3 might be useful.
  • We may invite special guests, any takers?

In the meantime, we continue our asynchronous tweets in between TweetMeets. I tend to approach these by tweeting directly from media sources. So, I read a news article on my iPad and tweet it to the relevant class using their hashtag, and sometimes pose a question. I use twitter to encourage, remind and prompt.

Students use twitter as part of the general ‘Social Media Challenge’ that runs through our paper/s. That is, all are encouraged to experiment with cultivating a professional presence and learning network via social media tools of their choice, and I recommend Twitter as a good place to start. Some students share blogs, resources and ideas and comment on class content. It is especially great when students share their own blogs as emerging educators, or when having shared an author’s work, the author then joins us to encourage our learning too. These are the special, connected, moments.

I welcome ideas about how to extend myself as a connected educator, and how to tweak our next TweetMeet.


  1. Try using TweetChat to manage the flow. Means the stream is just on your hashtag and it automatically inserts the tag when you tweet. You can also pause the stream when there is a lot of activity so you can focus on what you are reading.

    After the event maybe someone should Storify the chat as this can gather all the salient points in one place and provide a thread to read. This example shows how you can enrich with text when you create the Storify.

    1. Thanks Nigel, sounds good, will do and will let you know how we get on. Next tweetmeet likely to be one evening next week, thanks again, Dianne