Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twitter Chats for the Ag Educator!

This past Friday, I conducted my first ever "Twitter" Chat for my AEE 412 Methods of Teaching Class. I truly believe that Twitter can be a wonderful professional development tool that helps connect innovative educators in improving their professional practice, sharing resources & ideas, and providing inspiration.

It was interesting to say the least. Unexpected circumstances had made my physical presence in Happy Valley and/or a substitute instructor impossible and as they say, "Necessity is the mother of innovation".

The chat was designed to be conducted for 50 minutes to replicate a class session with 17 AEE Seniors preparing to student teach in the spring with the content being a review of learning objectives. It was recommended that students utilize TWEET CHAT. Here is a video that the students were asked to watch to orientate themselves:

Here are some observations from myself as the instructor and from my students after we reflected on Monday:

  1. As the instructor, I felt like it was just flying at me way fast! The students had similar reactions. In hindsight, I should have requested the assistance of a moderator.
  2. As the instructor, I was so glad it was a REVIEW of information already engaged in the class session prior. I do not think that I would want to teach new material via twitter.
  3. I way overestimated the number of questions we would have time to engage in. I planned 8  and I believe we got to 4.
  4. Students enjoyed having non-class participants, particular an active secondary agriculture educator join our session. I believe it underscores a need to have our teacher candidates interact with the active members in our profession as much as possible.
  5. Some students felt it was an inefficient use of time, pointing out 4 questions in 50 minutes. Others felt that it allowed for more students (not just who are vocal) to engage and share in the class session. I would hypothesize that some of these feelings are a reflection of learning style/orientation of the leaders.
  6. I do feel that this was a good platform/experience to role model for students:
    1. Courage to try something new
    2. Utilizing a different technology platform. Students who did not have twitter prior had a reason to get an account and participate.
I would hope that more school-based agricultural educators would utilize Twitter to accomplish two things:
1) Grow their own Professional Learning Network (PLN)
2) Share the story of School-Based Agricultural Education

10 Great Twitter Chats that Every School Based Agricultural Educator Should Check Out 
(Borrowed heavily from Susan Bearden and her post: 13 Great Twitter Chats Every Educator Should Check Out)
  1. #CTEChat, Wednesday's 8pm EST, Conversations around Career & Technical Education. http://twubs.com/ctechat
  2. #AgChat, Tuesday's 8pm-10pm EST, A weekly conversation for folks involved in business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber. https://twitter.com/agchat
  3. #edchat: Considerd the "grandfather" of educational chats, #edchat is one of the most popular chats and is held on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 and 7 to 8 pm Eastern Time. This fast moving chat attracts participants from all over the world to discuss a variety of topics related to education. You'll also find interesting discussions and resources shared by searching for this hashtag during the week. Learn more at edchat.pbworks.com
  4. #edtechchat: is dedicated to all things related to Education Technology and takes place Mondays from 8 to 9 pm Eastern Time. If you are interested in education technology, you'll find inspiring discussions and valuable resources here. Archives are found at edtechchat.wikispaces.com and podcast discussions of each week's chat can be found here on the Bam Radio network.
  5. #tlap: Looking for inspiration?  #tlap was inspired by the fabulous book "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) and attracts passionate, creative educators seeking to improve their professional practice. Set sail with yer fellow pirates on Mondays 9 pm ET. Ahoy, matey!
  6. #satchat: Fascinating discussions about education and leadership are held on Saturday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30 am Eastern Time. This chat attracts a great combination of teachers and administrators, with inspired results!
  7. If you aren't up that early on weekends, you can catch #satchatwc (Satchat West Coast) at 10:30 am ET. For a uniquely global discussion, #satchatoc attracts a lot of international participants and is held Friday nights at 8:00 pm ET. Learn more at the satchat website
  8. #flipclass: Interested in flipping your classroom? Join the #flipclass chat on Monday nights from 8 to 9 pm. Exchange ideas, resources, and best practices with enthusiastic educators participating in the flipped classroom movement. Archives and more information at flippedlearning.org/domain/26
  9. #ptchat: The goal behind #ptchat is to encourage a transparent & collaborative dialogue between parents & educators. You'll find these fascinating and thought provoking discussions on Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET. Learn more at efacetoday.blogspot.com/p/parent-teacher-chats.html
  10. #digcit: This chat discusses best practices in teaching Digital Citizenship and Literacy on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 7 to 8 pm ET. Find out more information at gonevirtual.org/digcit.html

Interested in giving Twitter chats a try? Here are a FIVE tips to get you started:
1. Use a tool like TweetdeckTweetchat, or Twubs to follow that chat. On a mobile device, you may find an app like Hootsuite to be helpful.
2. It's okay to lurk (which means to follow the discussion, but not participate) at first. Lurking is learning! At the same time, don't be afraid to jump into the conversation. If it's your first chat, say so! You'll likely find a very supportive group.
3. When participating in a chat, don't forget to include the chat hashtag, prefaced by the # sign, or else chat participants will miss your Tweets! Some tools, like Tweetchat, will append the hashtag automatically. It's easy to forget when you are deep in a discussion, so get in the habit of double checking your tweets before hitting "send."  
4. Some chats move very quickly and it can be difficult to keep with all the chatter. Don't be intimidated or feel that you have to read everything! Just catch what you can. Many chats are archived afterwards and can be a gold mine of valuable information and resources. Often, a link to the archive will be shared at the end of the chat. Or, just do a Google search for the chat hashtag and the word "archives." For example, a search for "edchat archives" brings you quickly to the #edchat archive at edchat.pbworks.com
5. Participating in Twitter chats is a great way to build your Personal Learning Network. Twitter chats attract passionate educators who are dedicated to lifelong learning, improving their professional practice, and sharing resources with others. Follow people with whom you interact, or who tweet helpful resources and/or comments that resonate with you. Chats provide terrific opportunities for relationship building!

Please leave a comment for your additional thoughts, ideas and suggestions for using Twitter in School-Based Agricultural Education! #Teachag!