Anatomy of an Edchat

Posted on Posted in General
And How To Run One on Recap

Collaborative and conversational, Twitter chats have turned into a popular venue for educators to seek on-demand and personalized professional development, and to build a network of like-minded peers around the world. Typically they have the following characteristics:

Q&A Format. One of the most distinctive characteristics of an edchat is the Q&A format. The moderator will pose a set of questions, typically 5-10 over the course of an hour, unveiling them throughout the chat. The questions serve to spark the conversation, and participants will respond to each question as it is revealed.

Conversational. The content of the participants’ answers is more important than the writing itself. This also gives everyone an opportunity to “think out loud”, form opinions and develop understanding throughout the course of the chat.

Open-Ended Dialogue. Most of the questions posed by the moderator in an edchat are open-ended, to allow for group exploration. The questions are generally themed or grouped, but the dialogue can take many different directions, depending on the participants’ answers.

These same qualities can be applied to create a safer edchat, one where participants have more time and freedom to consider their answers and expand on their thinking. With a private and secure platform, this kind of discussion is great for students as well. Ready to get started? Let’s take a look at how to conduct an edchat with Recap:

  1. Select a topic: Just like a Twitter edchat, your discussion will need a focus topic. Create a new Queue in Recap, and name it with the chat topic you’ve chosen.
  2. Write your questions: Your questions should hit the main points that you would like the discussion to touch on, but be open ended enough to allow participants some space for exploration.
  3. Set the schedule: Decide how many questions you want to present to participants at once (you could even post them all at the beginning of the chat), and how much time you want to give to discuss each question.
  4. Add the questions to the Queue: Add as many questions as you want to start with to your Queue. Participants can respond in the chat below each question.
  5. Invite your participants: You’ll need to share out the Join Pin to everyone who will be participating in the chat. Recap will generate all the join info in a helpful snippet you can copy and paste. It is even short enough to tweet out, so you can use the Queue as a breakout chat after a Twitter edchat. (show picture of this in post)
  6. Moderate the discussion: The primary role of the moderator is to encourage participants, and to extend the dialogue with follow-up questions. One great way to both encourage participation and continue the dialogue is to post participants' follow-up questions as new chat questions in the Queue.

Want to take your edchat to the next level? Try these tips to use Recap’s advanced features to enhance the dialogue:

Augment with video responses: Video is a powerful tool that can help participants to convey their emotions, passion, and to explain their thinking. It can also help to mitigate the misunderstandings that can occur in text-only chatting. Pick a question or two for your chat that you want to get video responses to! But remember, video is not everyone’s preferred or ideal form of communication, so make sure to use it when the time is right.

Ignite the discussion with a Journey: Some topics might need a little context before participants can launch into discussion. Or you may want to provide some resources and materials to use as a jumping off point. In this case, start the chat with a Journey! In Recap, a Journey is the moderator’s video tool for providing some context for the topic, along with a set of links to online resources with more information.

Crowdsource your questions: Coming up with a set of questions can be the toughest part of an edchat, as the moderator. If you know your participants have a solid understanding of your topic, get them engaged in running the chat by having them submit their own question suggestions through Recap.

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