#edchat started out of a series of conversations between myself, Tom Whitby and Shelly Terrell. Tom is a bit of an instigator and likes to push people’s thinking about various topics in education. One day, he was asking several of these thought-provoking questions and was getting comments from all angles. He turned to Shelly and I for help. Afterwards, he suggested we needed a hashtag to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Shelly suggested a weekly format where anyone could participate, and I suggested we have the community vote on what we would talk about. Thus, #edchat was born. We had our first real chat in July 2009, and we have had one every week (except for a break at Christmas) ever since.
To participate, users need only add #edchat to their tweets. We have organized chats every Tuesday. The main chat is at 7 P.M. EDT and lasts an hour. Another chat for our friends in Europe and beyond is held on Tuesdays at noon EDT. Polls are posted by me (@web20classroom) on Sunday afternoons, and voting ends Tuesday mornings. The highest vote-getter is discussed at 7 P.M. EDT and the second place is discussed at noon EDT. Participants are welcome to suggest topics for discussion by filling out this form.
You will need a way to follow the conversations. Many folks use a third-party Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and have a column set up to search for #edchat, so they see all the tweets during the conversation. Others use services like Tweetchat or Tweetgrid to follow the chats. These work every well and will auto include the hashtag when tweeting, which can be handy.
The archive is usually posted by the next day, and it includes all the tweets during the hour time span. Archives of all chats are up at PBS and are viewable any time. (To be honest, I usually have to go back to the archive to read up on everything that happened.)
You can’t follow every conversation during #edchat. We average about 200 to 300 active participants a week and over 1,500 tweets for the hour (most of the time those numbers are much, much higher), so following everything is nearly an impossibility. We recommend tossing out an idea or two and to see who latches on, or just engage with someone. For the most part, everyone who comes to #edchat is open minded and wants to discuss the topic and offer up their thoughts on it. So push someone’s thinking or better yet, have yours pushed back!
#edchat is just a small part of a greater education community that regularly engages in conversations to make learning better for kids. We are big believers in action after the chat and encourage our participants to go out and do something as a result of the chat. Blog/tweet about it, and share it with the world. The chat is our opportunity to engage and think and share, but it means nothing if we don’t do. That’s why you regularly see people use the #edchat hashtag during other parts of the week to share what they are doing or thinking or saying.
I am proud of #edchat and the direction it has gone and continues to go. Each week, I get to talk to new folks and hear of amazing things that are going on in schools and districts around the world.
I hope you’ll join us! Steven Anderson