Taking Twitter Live in Three Easy Steps

Last week, I wrote about getting started with twitter chats and doing a mock one in my class. In this post, I want to talk about what to expect when the chat goes live and what you might expect if you do one.

First, Set Some Basic Rules

Yes, you need to prepare your students as much as possible for the chat, and then you will have to let it all go and see where it takes you. Here are the steps I think are important to know:

(a) establish a hashtag in advance. And by in advance I mean at least one week in advance. I just do this myself. I use a different hashtag for each chat – one that reflects our focus of discussion – but you could easily use the same one for the entire course. I’ve just gone ahead and done the entire semester at once. Takes at most 10 minutes (I like to do a search with the chosen tag on twitter to see what comes up).basics2

(b) post that hashtag in multiple places. The hashtag is posted on the course schedule next to the appropriate date. However, I also have a webpage that explains what we are doing in class on each day. I post the hashtag on the webpage as well.

(c) check in! How do you know who is/isn’t present? I ask everyone to officially check in by the time the chat starts. This means within the first few minutes of class everyone has tweeted something. It doesn’t need to be on topic for the evening’s chat. It just needs to be a “Hey! I’m here,” kind of thing.

(d) you better use that hashtag: if you don’t use the hashtag then you’re stuff doesn’t count. I cannot be going through what everyone said they tweeted but forgot to tag accordingly. We’ll all forget to tag something now and then, but I’m not digging around through non-tagged tweets.

(e) check out! I like to ask a question in the last five minutes and have the response be the exit slip. This helps me keep track of who was there and what not.

Second, What Counts as Participation?

I’m admittedly rusty here. I’m working out the kinks. But for now, I have the following:

participate

(a) make statements
(b) ask questions (either in general to the group or to any person specifically)
(c) ask someone to talk further about a statement (make sure you use the @ symbol)
(d) retweeting tweets that you think others would find useful – you can retweet something from the current conversation if you think it’s needed. For example, you might choose to retweet a question asked early on in the conversation in order to bring attention back to it later again.
(e) share a link to something related that you think others will find useful

Third, Storify It!

I hated that when the chat was over it was over. I wanted some neat little way to package it all up. This may not be necessary, but for a course I wanted to see how it would go. I have 1-2 people who are responsible for taking the chat and then Storifing it. Thus, we end up with a little story about our chat. I’m also new to Storify so my directions to students on my expectations for what to do with Storify is to simply go and make one. story

If I did this again I might have some better guidelines. But this is a good example of how I sometimes integrate a new tool into my instruction. I know just enough about it to be dangerous, toss it in, and tinker with how to make it useful along the way. Obviously this has its pros and cons, but I like it as opposed to doing nothing. If I sat around and waited until I thought I had it about perfect I would never get the ball rolling.

And There You Have It!

That’s how I take twitter live with my graduate students. Of course the next obvious question is what the entire experience looks like. What’s it like from my view as the instructor? What’s it like from their views as students? It’s coming – I promise!

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