Take a Deeper Dive with a #breakoutchat

Posted on Posted in Applications, General
Expanding the dialogue beyond 140 characters.

Twitter edchats are an amazing resource for educators: from discovering new resources and tools, to new colleagues to add to your PLN, and learning about innovative ways of teaching and thinking. But while a lot of great things can happen on Twitter, when a new idea or question captures the group’s interest, 140 characters can only carry the dialogue so far.

Educators have sought out other forums to have deeper conversations: transitioning to email threads, messaging apps like Voxer, live video calls, etc. Many educators have tried to tackle this need using different tools and methods. But these other platforms don’t maintain the Q&A structure, so the original dialogue can get lost, and many require scheduling and planning to help groups connect with each other. Twitter is a great place for starting the conversation, but teachers need a better platform for continuing the chat, which is where Recap comes in.

When an edchat topic deserves a deeper dive, and more time and space for consideration, that is the time for a breakout chat. A breakout chat in Recap can follow the same Q1/A1, but provides participants with richer, deeper ways for participants to express themselves. Recap text responses can contain up to 800 characters, removing the strict limitations that Twitter sets. The inclusion of hyperlinks, and Journeys that provide both context and resources to the questions, also help to move the dialogue forward by injecting more information into the chat.

Slowchats are a time-saver for teachers.

The struggle to find the time to sit down for an hour-long chat is a constant struggle for educators on Twitter as well. Chats may be scheduled at inconvenient times for teachers in certain time zones, and often there are simply not enough hours in the day. Breakout chats can take place immediately after or during a Twitter chat, but they can also take the form of a slowchat, one that spans several days or weeks. This enables participants to take more time to think through their responses, and to gather resources to share, both of which lead to deeper understanding of the topic. It also allows them to participate when they have the time, and in smaller increments.

Anyone can run a breakout chat session, based on a Twitter chat question or topic. In some cases the Twitter chat moderator may have a question or two in mind that they anticipate will require a deeper dive, but great breakout chats can also be impromptu, and initiated by the chat participants. Whether you’re the moderator or a participant, here’s a quick guide to setting up your breakout chat in Recap:

How to run a #breakoutchat with Recap

  1. Create a new Queue: you’ll want to name the Queue using the topic of that week’s Twitter chat.
  2. Add the question: to kick off the breakout chat, add the question the group was discussing on Twitter to the Queue. If you want to maintain it as the focus question for the chat, you’ll want to pin it to the top of the Queue.
  3. Share the Queue: invite your fellow chat-participants into the Queue using the Open Queue Link and the Join Pin. It just takes a quick copy-and-paste into a tweet, and your #breakoutchat is up and running!
  4. Collect supporting questions: request that participants post any follow-up questions they have to the Queue.
  5. Support the chat with resources: anyone can share resources in the Queue chat, with hyperlinks. As the moderator, you can create a Journey to inject some additional resources and information to focus the dialogue or shift it in new directions.
  6. Augment the chat with video: use video response questions when you want to add a personal touch to the chat, or for questions where you want to avoid the misunderstandings that text-only chats can produce.
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