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Where teachers go to school: #Edchat

Posted on May 3, 2013

Pieces of paper pointing at a brain.Throughout the week, thousands of Twitter users gather around a hash tag to discuss the current state of education. There are many different chats focused on education, but #edchat is certainly the most popular. I’ve been tuning into it for the past few weeks and am pleasantly surprised by what I’ve found.

One of the best features of #edchat, and others alike, is its lack of formality. You only have 140 characters to get your point across, so the conversation is pretty laid back. This causal setting creates a very unique kind of conversation – one where you feel comfortable enough to speak your mind and where you can say things you might not ordinarily say in person. Most people would call this their personal learning network (PLN), but it’s a lot more than that. We aren’t just searching for like-minded professionals; we’re interacting with data, reinforcing what’s helpful and weeding out what’s not.

I love a scholarly essay just as much as the next person, but sometimes I just want a plain, simple explanation. That’s what these chats are doing – delivering information in a way that is accessible to any level of expertise. Not to mention you can ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s also a great way to discover new topics you’d never looked into before. For instance, depending on how much you want to learn about a topic, you might find a tweet interesting, click to read their blog post on it, then click to examine the essay or report it was based off of. I think that’s more useful than an abstract.

Perhaps the most important quality of an #edchat, is its ability to keep teachers and administrators up to date. The information that trends throughout the week reaches that status because it’s coming straight from the source. Administrators and educators gather to hash out the changes (or lack thereof) they’re seeing in schools today – tech integration, weekly projects, school policy reform, blended learning, whatever they want. This gives bystanders a first-hand look at what’s happening in schools, not six months after an article was published musing about “the next big thing in education.”

If you want real-time feedback about what’s going on in education today, check out this weekly Twitter chat schedule.

 Kyle Vineyard is a senior majoring in English at the University of Kansas. He has a passion for the written word and a soft spot for rural America.

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