My interest in social media and how it was being used by businesses was an eye opener. As a result I've engaged in numerous tweetchats with marketing specialists and recognised that this mode of communication opened up so many opportunities for interactive dialogue that went beyond text. The ability to link to other resources or add images, audio or video added a new richness. Being able to filter tweets through a shared hashtag opened up the opportunity to curate collections of tweets. My network grew as I connected with professionals sharing and discussing useful information. However this didn't happen overnight and as I often say a personal learning network is just that - personal. I have connections that add value to my own CPD, but these may not all be of value to everyone else, simply because we have different as well as potentially shared interests.
Over the last two years I have engaged in the weekly #LTHEchat - a weekly chat about topics relating to learning and teaching in higher education. Prior to that tweetchats in the online course Bring your own device for learning brought great value to the learning experience. They work and provide numerous opportunities to co-learn with others. Conferences provide another space to extend the conversations beyond the face to face. Last week I engaged with the SEDA Conference that was using the #sedaconf hashtag as a virtual participant. However what brought it alive was the organised tweetchat within a workshop. Andrew Middleton (@andrewmid) and Sue Moron-Garcia (@DrSueCELT) through Twitter invited people to join what was going to be a live chat the following day. They shared a specific hashtag #seda_nets and tweeted the time the chat would take place. I was thrilled as it fell between my teaching and I was able to block out the hour in my diary. I wasn't able to attend the full conference because of my teaching commitments this year and this gave me an opportunity to be a part of it.
Reflecting on the experience
As a result of Andrew's post on weaving across the digital physical space and then the invite to myself and Chris Rowell (@Chri5rowell) to respond as digital participants to present our view from the other side of the physical-digital tweetchat - I was prompted to reflect on my experience.
Chris reflected that his engagement with the workshop chat was purely serendipitous. He was on his way to a hospital appointment via public transport and had via his phone checked in to the SEDA conference hashtag #sedaconf. He picked up on one of Andrew's tweets and caught the additional hashtag linked with the proposed tweetchat. He was then able to reply to each of the questions. He used the retweet with comment option and nested his answer above each of the questions Andrew posted. This is a useful way to do this as it keeps the answer with the question, however you can't include images.
For me the experience was immersive. I felt a sense of belonging with the group that were at the conference and in this workshop. Those there that also tweeted the answers to the questions (they had been given post-its), also interacted with myself and this led to interesting discussion around the topic shared.
Why transient CPD is important
This short opportunity to engage in CPD through this tweetchat was valuable as
- It provided a space to discuss an interesting topic with people I may not have otherwise been introduced to.
- Whilst the tweetchat is short-lived, I've been able to make new connections with whom I can continue the conversations if I choose to do so.
- I didn't have to travel to a venue, and was able to take part in the space I was in at that time.
- The duration of the CPD activity was less than an hour and it fitted into my busy schedule.
- The experience added value to my working day and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Why it can be difficult
Through sharing Andrew's blog post with our comments with my own network it stimulated discussion around personal space. I had shared that my CPD experience had been interrupted when a colleague had come into the office and asked to speak to me. Despite explaining that I wasn't able to at the moment as I was online, the person insisted on trying to tell me what he wished to discuss.
I think the 'issue' was that it is hard to give the visual cues to demonstrate you are engaged in a CPD activity of this type. Had I been wearing headphones and engaging in a webinar this may have been more apparent. However this was a tweetchat and I was not actually taking to anybody but preparing to answer the question. My computer screen displayed a SlideShare presentation. I had been searching for an image in a prior presentation I had given that would help me to answer the first question. I felt rude saying I couldn't continue the discussion at that moment. Perhaps I should have been more explicit and said I was involved in a tweetchat, but at that time I didn't think this would have helped.
I felt my space had been invaded at a point where I had given myself an hour to engage in CPD. As I mentioned a short discussion took place about this on Twitter last night. One person mentioned that she no longer took part in lunch time tweet chats, because of interruptions in her shared office space. So is it that we should move to another space to take part in this transient form of CPD or are there ways we can make it clear we are engaged online and prefer not to be disturbed? My office colleague suggested I put on my headset as a means of signalling this. I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences.