The Educator’s PLN online community (http://edupln.ning.com/) is dedicated to the support of a personal learning network for educators. A unique aspect of the EduPLN community, and the most important driver of knowledge sharing according to the administrators of the community, is the pairing of the EduPLN with Edchat, an ongoing Twitter conversation. Twitter is a real-time information network in which participants can use hash tags (#) to join and participate in specific conversations. Hashtags are a Web tag that have the hash mark or pound symbol (#) preceding the tag (e.g., #edhat) and are used to help in adding tweets to a category. Twitter’s Edchat is a conversation among educators, parents, students, and other stakeholders in which challenging issues facing educational systems worldwide are discussed. Participants share perspectives and opinions, provide resources, and offer experiences. Officially, it is conducted on Twitter twice each Tuesday. Two chats are offered to accommodate the global time zones. The educational topics are chosen from a poll posted each Sunday night or the chat may feature a guest speaker. The chats are scheduled for an hour, but often carry on throughout the week. Complementing the conversation, participants tweet out short links to let Edchat members know about resources, websites, podcasts, videos, or the like that are relevant to the topic being discussed. So why have a community beyond the Twitter Edchat? Twitter tweets are limited to 140 characters and Twitter conversations often tend to move along quickly, and thus the lifespan of a tweet is quite short and not everyone is able to sign on to the Edchat conversations. To address this limitation, the organizers of Edchat created an online community in which Edchat conversations could continue and deepen and resources could be archived for later access.

Back to: Opportunities for Sharing Knowledge, Expertise, and Experiences

One Response to Snapshot from the field: Using Twitter to Drive Community Traffic and Conversation

  1. Jay Collier says:

    This is an excellent, concise summary of the strengths of both the Educator’s PLN and #edchat.

    I’m also interested in learning how leaders wishing to replicate this model would address sustainability, portability, and content ownership with Ning and Twitter.

    There is great archival value in these collaborations — especially in helping new members get up to speed with the conversations and consensus that has already emerged — but Ning and Twitter do not provide simple methods for archiving outside their proprietary spaces. Also, I understand that the terms of engagement for both commercial services require allowing them to sell marketing data on members.

    Are sustainability, portability, and content ownership important enough to outweigh the SAAS benefits? Can integration also be accomplished in open source spaces?

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