How to host a Q-and-A Twitter chat

5/15/2014 12:00:00 AM
Cute Blue Bird Character
Cross-posted at Smartblog on Education

Many educators are aware of education Twitter chats and some have even participated in one of the hundreds of chats that take place each week. The reason Twitter chats are great is because they let you dive quickly into an issue with others around the world who share your passion. The people whose input you find valuable are ones that you can follow and connect with in the future.

For those who don’t know what a Twitter chat is, it is a way to bring together people from across the globe — tweeps — at a set time to discuss a topic of interest in a fast-paced format using an agreed upon hashtag. It can also give tweeps access to experts they otherwise might not be able to connect with. It gives experts a great vehicle to connect with others who care about their work.

A couple of months ago, I agreed to be more than a chat participant or special guest. I hosted an #SSchat — social studies chat — on Twitter on the topic “Enriching Social Studies with Social Media.” I soon found that many others in my learning network were eager to do the same and wanted to know how to host chats about the topics in which they were interested.

To run a Twitter chat, first you need to determine if you will be chatting about a topic for which a chat already exists (you can see a listing here), or if you will be starting a chat using a new hashtag.
Below you will find directions for either option.
If you are hosting a chat using a new hashtag:
If you are hosting a chat using a hashtag that already exists.
  1. Select your hashtag.
    • All tweets will have a hashtag embedded. For example the hashtag for Student Voice is #StuVoice
  2. Select when you will meet.
    • Most chats meet once a week. Some meet once or twice a month.
  1. Select a topic.
    • Poll those who follow the hashtag to see what they want to discuss.Twtpoll is a useful platform for this.
  1. Engage.
    • Participate in chats that you are interested in so you become familiar with participants and ideas.
  2. Find the person responsible.
    • Find out who organizes chats for the hashtag you are interested in. Contact them to propose your topic.
  3. Propose a topic.
    • Tell the person who organizes the chat the topic you would like to propose. Explain why you think this would be of interest and value to participants.
 The remaining steps are the same for either option:
  1. Come up with about five questions.
    • You can come up with these on your own, or ask folks who are following the hashtag what they want to know about the topic.
  2. Promote your chat.
    • Write a blog post. Tweet. Share on pages and in groups, but remember to make it personal. Ask others to do the same.
  3. Start your chat with welcome and introductions.
    • When you begin your chat, welcome those who have joined you and ask them to share something about themselves.
  4. Alert participants.
    • Before the first question, let participants know the question is coming up in a minute.
  5. Let participants know you will ask questions in the following format:
    • Q1: Then ask your question.
  6. Let participant know to respond in the following format:
    • A1: They respond to the question.
    • Remind them to use the selected hashtag in responses.
  7. Timing
    • Let participants have about 10 minutes per question. Depending on engagement you may want to add or subtract a question.
  8. Archive your chat.
  9. Store your archive.
So there you have it. Running a Twitter chat is free and a powerful way to connect with and discuss issues you care about. So, now that you know how, get to chatting. Have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.


Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.
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