As I write this, I am preparing to participate in my first ever #edchat on Twitter. Is it normal to be nervous about online conversations? I jumped into the fray at ISTE11 without much difficulty at all, and those were real, live people! What’s the difference, really?
Perhaps it’s that the #edchat hashtag always yields a bazillion and one search results, even when it’s not technically going on (Tuesdays at noon and 7 pm EST). I can’t imagine how much crazier things will get when I’m trying to participate live.
In preparation, I sent out a tweet asking if I should just listen for a while (something referred to as “lurking” in the online forum community) or just wade right on in. Shawn Douglas of WritEdiTeach advised me to, “Break out the hip waders and go for it! Twitter chats can be a bit rambunctious.” So that’s the plan, then.
It’s almost time to begin. I’ll put this blog post on hold for the next hour. Everything below the number signs is coming from a slightly older (and presumably slightly wiser) version of me.
I think the only way to sum up an experience like that is: “Wow.” There is so much enthusiasm and so many great ideas being thrown around every minute during #edchat that you can’t possibly keep up with all of them – at least not as an inexperienced newbie such as myself!
Still, it’s an absolutely worthwhile endeavor if you care about education. You get to rub “e-elbows” with some of the most committed educators out there, and the flurry of links and great snippets of conversation should be enough to propel you back into your classroom with an incredible amount of force.
There’s also a couple ways that you can help stabilize yourself amidst the chaos. Berni Wall, for example, has a blog that seeks to summarize each individual #edchat conversation (or point you towards blogs that do) that should definitely be added to your RSS feed even if you can’t participate in the conversations or you don’t ever Twitter. Reading up might give you a better inclination of what to expect.
In the end, though, the best advice was to just strap on the hip-waders and get messy. Participate in conversations. Share ideas. Meet new people to follow and pay attention to. Just plug in and try to get as much out of it as you can. I know I did, and I know it’s something that I’ll be doing every week from now on.
I also hear there’s something called #collegechat. Got to check that out as well…