Chats, Webinars and Professional Connections

For the past two weeks I’ve been participating in Twitter chats and webinars with a variety of education professionals. It’s been the first time I’ve intentionally decided to participate and I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t taken the Edtech 543 course and been expected to move from the role of listener to actually contributing to the conversation. I completed 4 Twitter chats and 4 webinars over the past two weeks and these are my impressions of the experiences and some of my takeaways from a professional development standpoint.

Overall Impressions

Part of the process of moving from a role of listener to active participant in social networks and online communities includes jumping into live chats and webinars. These are a synchronous method of connecting and exchanging information but there is also real value in taking 20-30 minutes at the end of each session to review and pull out takeaways, bookmark sites and resources mentioned and take a deep breath. Especially with the Twitter chats, information is flying by quickly and it is not easy to focus on one or two things posted before you see that there are 30 new messages on the chat page.

I was new to using Hootsuite for twitter chats but by the time I was in my 4th chat session, I had it figured out. I’m still not sure about some of the best methods for replying to comments – should I just reply to one or everyone in the conversation; what does “quoting” do besides give you the full 140 characters to work with in your post? Some of it is learning the lingo and some of it is learning what is the proper way to post and respond – might need to brush up on my “Tweetiquette” a bit more. But I also can see why someone who knows nothing about Twitter would be a bit intimidated to even attempt a twitter chat by themselves. I think I need to create a Twitter chat session or two for my faculty where we can take part in one and then debrief the experience afterwards.

I think it was hugely valuable to attend different chats and webinars. I definitely felt more comfortable in some of them than I did in others. Not that anyone made me feel like I didn’t belong, but there is value in attending a variety of sessions and paying attention to what is discussed, how the sessions are facilitated and the general vibe of the people participating.

Tweet Chats

#lrnchat: The organizers of this chat are mostly trainers or instructional designers from the corporate training world, but I think higher education IDs have a lot to learn from them. I’ve followed a few of the participants blogs and read some of their books, so it was interesting to be in the the same Twitter space with them for a while. The topic of the chat was a series of learning quotes and we were supposed to respond to them within our job context. This was my first time trying to twitter chat with Hootsuite and be sure my tweets and retweets were going to the correct class hashtag. I got the hang of how to use the tool within the first 30 minutes and was able to do some retweeting in the session.  I liked the use of visuals and found myself responding to those tweets best in such a rapid pace. How I contributed – I mostly retweeted with comment and had one original post at the end when I got brave… 🙂

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#edtechchat: this group seemed more geared toward K-12 and higher ed topics so our questions focused on working with leadership in our particular areas of work. I felt comfortable contributing comments and responding in this chat a bit more as I have some experience with working with leadership in higher ed with regard to projects and initiatives. I saw a couple of classmates in this chat, so it was fun to retweet their comments and connect that way. One of my takeaways from this chat is the importance of taking on leadership roles in whatever form they come in – informal or formal. One of my comments was that I thought informal leaders – like faculty or IDs – had more flexibility and ability to genuinely connect with groups or individuals that formal leaders like presidents, VPs or dept. directors. We should exploit that role more. How I contributed – original tweets as well as responses to posts and retweets:

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#edchat: Again, I think the audience for this chat is mostly K-12 and higher ed teachers. The topic was defining authentic learning and discussion of what it looked like in our learning environments. I felt much more comfortable using Hootsuite for chats and began responding to specific conversations and quoting tweets so I could use the full 140 characters to respond to the topics expressed. I’m still not sure of the nuances of either approach – I saw people using both methods to respond and post. My takeaway is that there are a lot of different ways to define authentic learning, yet most often, the teacher or faculty are accountable for the type of learning going on in their classroom. Until faculty feel comfortable and supported in use of authentic learning methods, they may not want to venture down that road too far. How I contributed – tweets, retweets and replies to twitter conversations

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#guildchat: This chat was by far the most organized and supported ahead of time in terms of marketing and providing resources and a list of questions. I didn’t find this site until after the chat:

http://twist.elearningguild.net/2015/07/guildchat-for-072415-designing-for-habit-with-guest-julie-dirksen/

but now I know where to look and how to be better prepared to contribute content. Twitter chats go by so fast that new attendees can benefit from the pre and post resources that eLearning Guild provides. The topic was designing for habits and the guest was Julie Dirksen, author of “Designing for How People Learn.” I’ve read that book and I was excited to be part of a chat with her. This was my last chat for the assignment, but I feel it was my best as far as being able to handle the pace, the tools and the topics. Even though I am an ID at a community college, my roots are in organizational training and staff development and I enjoy the subject are of creating effective formal and informal learning experiences for organizations. One of my takeaways was that small habit changes can lead to larger cultural changes especially if the habits are positive in nature and modeled by recognized leaders. Cultural change is habit change. How I contributed: I managed some original posts as well as retweets, quotes and replies to ongoing conversations:

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Webinars

I took part in two webinars that were part of a series of Google Hangout type presentations through connectedlearning.tv. I wasn’t sure how this type of webinar would work at first as I hadn’t see other webinars organized this way, but once I read a bit more about Connected Learning movement here –

http://connectedlearning.tv/what-is-connected-learning

and some of the other activities associated with it, I decided to attend anyway and learn as I went. I was especially excited to hear and see some of the folks that I had been following from previous conferences I have been able to attend – the likes of Jesse Stommel, Alan Levine and Maha Bali. The first webinar was about equity and technology -“techquity” was a term used in the title of the webinar – and I wasn’t quite sure how to contribute to the conversation at first as it seemed that there wasn’t much going on in the Google Hangout chat area. I only found out late in the hangout that there was a companion Twitter chat going on. I wrote off this webinar as “practice” and attended a second one the following week – Emerging Trends in Open Scholarship. I barely knew much about the topic going in, but I knew some of the presenters and was anxious to hear what they would talk about. A key takeaway for me was that the idea that open scholarship is still in its defining moments and the many forms of it are exciting to explore. I enjoyed this article by Jesse Stommel

http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/the-four-noble-virtues-of-digital-media-citation/

as a followup to the webinar and it helped fill in some of the gaps of knowledge I discovered as I listened to the webinar. I was able to retweet some of the nuggets of information I could grasp and know that I need to do more research on my own. Sometimes it’s good to jump into the deep end a subject and I was definitely over my head, but I felt my presence there was appreciated by the presenters. How I contributed: I retweeted content and actually picked up a follower or two on Twitter!

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Another webinar I attended was the ASCD presentation on the latest brain research. It was a good topic and there were several classmates also attending so we saw each other commenting in the chat area of the webinar window. Unfortunately we couldn’t chat privately with individuals, so it was hard to get their attention. Only when we all started tweeting in the EdtechSN hashtag did we really connect. I was a little disappointed in this webinar because we really didn’t have a chance at a Q&A session with the two authors. It sort of felt like a presentation about their latest book with little room for audience interaction. It may have been the format of the webinar or the tool used, but I felt a little disconnected in this one compared to the other webinars. How I contributed -We had a running chat in the webinar as well as some tweets after the webinar was over:

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The 4th webinar I attended was sponsored by eLearning Guild and featured the learning design lead for Jet Blue- Kristianna Fallows. She presented practical design techniques to inspire and motivate employees and learners in elearning courses and how she and her team organized and marketed the concept of JetBlue University. It was a specific topic but presented well and with a lot of references and research to back up her work. I’m always up for seeing the organizational techniques used in the delivery of large scale training and learning and how organizations market their training to employees. How I contributed-I had the opportunity in this webinar to ask questions in the chat area of the webinar tool, tweet out and follow up on the DevLearn site to the presenter directly:

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