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Become A Better Lurker

When it comes to exciting ways to boost personal learning, few activities can match the personal learning empowerment of Twitter chats. Not only are Twitter chats great for building a personal learning network, they provide a personalized, on-demand method of learning through a conversational timeline. Education themed Twitter chats occur every day of the week throughout the year. Here is the "official" schedule of education chats on Twitter. (Credit; @cybraryman1@conniehamilton @thomascmurray @cevans5095 @jrochelle )




Initially, the pace and flow of Twitter chats can be a bit hectic and confusing, but here are three helpful hacks to make Twitter chats enjoyable learning and relationship-building conversations. First off, Twitter chats are scheduled meetings, typically lasting an hour, focusing on school / education topics. Participants are able to focus into the conversation stream by isolating the chat hashtag (#). There are hundreds of education chat hashtags including the popular; #edchat, #satchat, #edtech, and #tlap. Whether a lurker, participant, or moderator, there are strategies to help make the most of the Twitter chat experience.

Lurkers, despite the negative sounding term, are learners who have their toes dangling in the water, but are not quite ready to jump in. Not to worry, nearly all Twitter chat participants start out by lurking. Twitter lurkers learn by observing the interactions of the chat moderators and participants. Here are three ways in which lurkers can enhance their Twitter chat experience.
  1. FOCUS - Use an app like TweetDeck to isolate the chat conversation in a column created with the chat hashtag. I find the chat easier to follow if I create a search column for the chat hashtag, as well as, one for the moderator. This helps keep track of questions if I drift into a tertiary conversation. Expert lurkers will follow people who contribute to their learning. These contributors become apparent quickly. "Elegant lurkers", as David White calls them, have developed techniques for tuning out some of the Twitter noise to better focus on meaningful contributions.
  2. RECORD - 140 characters can be restrictive when people have something to contribute to the chat. Chat participants will add media, graphics, and hyperlinks in their tweets. It's good to have a bookmarking system established to grab and save relevant resources for further review. I use Flipboard to automate the curating process. However, Pocket, Evernote, and Delicious make excellent repositories for curated resources. Like some tweeps, I use Twitter for social bookmarking.
  3. REFLECT - Lurkers gain confidence through picking up the "pseudo-shorthand" structure of tweets. (Anatomy of a Tweet) Taking notes, sketchnoting, or composing a reflective summary of the chat, helps lurkers process themes, and transfer learning to other educational pursuits. Conscientious moderators will provide a transcript of the chat so others can review the conversation timeline at their convenience. Storify is a popular and effective tool for archiving Twitter chats. When shared transparently these notes, observations, and reflections help others to "learn from the learner".
Many learners who engage in education chats on Twitter rave about the impact that these conversations have on their personal learning. Lurking can be a positive step in curating learning resources, gaining confidence in the chat process, and most importantly, establishing relationships that form the foundation of an effective personal learning network. (What is a PLN? Why Do I Need One?)

Related Resources



Elegant Lurking - David White

Twitter Chats 101 - Buffer Social, Nicole Miller

The Best Twitter Chats For Teachers in 2015 - Te@chThought 


Comments

Jordan said…
Nice post. I think one of the obstacles for those considering Twitter is that they feel like they have to put themselves out there right away and become a contributor. Lurking is a nice way to "dabble your toes in the water" and become acclimated to the culture of Twitter without feeling the pressure to dive right in. Kind of like the first time someone goes to a new school, new venue, new anything...they might need to figure out the culture and habits of the people who are already there before they are comfortable enough to start participating. Lurking can be quite underrated!
Aaron Davis said…
The concept of 'lurking' is something that has challenged me for a long time. A while back I questioned whether you are really connecting if you are not giving back (http://readwriterespond.com/?p=76). However, I am not so sure anymore. I really like David White's post and I think maybe there is something elegant about it. Still thinking.
Aaron Davis said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Schuetz said…
Thanks for your comment Aaron. I shared the same perspective as you - to be truly connected to share with your PLN. David White's post opened my eyes to another perspective that I can appreciate. Bob

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