For anyone following me on Twitter over the past week in particular, you may have noticed an upsurge in Tweets, particularly between 8-9pm GMT accompanied with the hashtag #BYOD4L. These coincided with the daily TweetChat organised as part of the BYOD4Learning open course I have been running with Chrissi Nerantzi and a team of amazing Co-Facilitators. Tweets may not have made sense therefore if you were not engaged in the online conversation or chat. It may have like you could almost catch the odd word or statement just as if you were overhearing a conversation stood by a group of people perhaps in a busy train station. Our TweetChats were open though and anyone who 'stepped in' with the very question 'What is this all about' was welcomed in, and then received a flurry of responses from those participating in the chat to explain what was going on and how they could join in.
What's a TweetChat?
If you have never experienced a TweetChat, it may be helpful I think to read this. It explains a typical format of a chat which usually lasts for about an hour. A series of questions on a chosen topic are shared over the hour and participants answer these questions sharing links, their knowledge but also with new questions of their own. Splinter groups also emerge as a few people take a point raised further and explore it. But this is brief and they then return to the focus of the chat.
A TweetChat is often described as fast and furious; a torrent of tweets emerging one after the other. It can feel chaotic if you join in midway through the chat. And yet whilst it does feel like that initially, the pace can be managed by encouraging people to answer the questions in the format suggested and by the facilitator or participants repeating the questions.
As a facilitator I was acutely conscious that we had people engaging with a TweetChat for the first time. In our first #BYOD4Lchat on Monday, a number of participants were tweeting their confusement. But then an amazing thing began to happen. The more confident 'TweetChatters' stepped in responding to those asking questions. Over the week we saw these new TweetChatters return and engage in the chats as if they had been doing it for ever! I was filled with pride for all those who had stepped out of their comfort zone and given this a go. Well done to all of you!
I was also 'looking in' on the TweetChats and observed many examples of new connections being made. A shared interest on a topic resulting in signposts to other related material. Engaging debates on a particular point. During each hour of the chat so many conversations were evident. So yes it is somewhat chaotic, but it is a good chaotic.
It is not possible to take in every conversation during a TweetChat. What I have found useful being a participant in many chats, is when the chat is 'storified'. Storify is a great free tool that allows to to curate a selection of Tweets and using text boxes organise these into a meaningful story. It helps to present the context of the conversation. You can find examples of the #BYOD4Lchats on our Storify page dedicated to this course.
Our wonderful participants
There are so many tweets I could pull out as quotes but I think this particularly summed up the chaotic week of #BYOD4Lchat for me! Thank you Julie!
#BYOD4Lchat thanks all. Feel like I am heading home from a really good festival :-)
— Julie Gillin (@juliegillin) January 31, 2014