Live Twitter Chats and Tweetorials

It’s no secret that I am a *big* fan of Twitter. I’ve been using it pretty heavily for the past 2 1/2 years to build my online presence and engage with those who share my interests in public engagement, WW1, social media, educational technology and all the other elements that make up what I do. I have found it to be the tool that has progressed my career the most. This year all 8 conferences I have presented at have been by invitation, and most of those invitations came through via connections and conversations on Twitter.

One thing I haven’t explored that much though has been the ‘Live Twitter Chat’. A chat were you all log-on at the same time and use a hashtag to tie together a synchronous conversation. This week I have randomly engaged in three.

The first was by chance, and perhaps took on more of the characteristics of a ‘Tweetorial’ (HT to Marcus Du Sautoy who was the concept founder of this term). Whilst awaiting my delayed train at Oxford Station I was browsing the stacks in W H Smiths when I was  incensed by the cover of this month’s BBC History Magazine.

Oh so much wrong with this. First of all *it’s NOVEMBER* , outbreak of WW1 was in August, lets try to be timely. Secondly this whole shooting an Archduke thing was not the main cause of WW1, and neither did the whole of Europe march War at its onset. Plus of course there were places outside of Europe getting in on the action. The myths keep rolling…….I could go on. But I thought I’d send it to the Twitterverse to see what came about. First I sent it out via my personal account @KTDigital, but quickly twigged if I sent it out via @WW1C (my project account whose task it is to challenge the myths of WW1) I would get more of a response. Instantly I got a few comments, and I had a go at pushing them for a bit more info and realised I needed to know a bit more about the subject. In the end I pointed my followers to some great resources in WW1 Centenary on the causes of the First World War to explore the subject further, which, if retweets are anything to go by, was appreciated.

The second live chat I was involved in was #23things for our #oxengage programme I am co-leading with colleagues in the IT Learning Programme and Bodelian Libraries. At 3pm on Thursday those involved in the online self-directed course 23 Things for Research, hooked up on Twitter with colleagues from Cambridge doing a similar programme in Digital Humanities to discuss all social-media-for-academia-things-related. This was a well organised discussion with questions posted to guide the conversation. It was inspiring hearing how other enthused about the use of social media in their academic and academic-related work and what the elements of the course were that had given new dimensions to their practice. Quite a few people engaged in this Twitter Chat so it was a bit hard to follow at times as sometimes different groups were discussing different things on the same hashtag. But all in all it worked pretty well and the fact I was sat under the dryer at the hairdressers for the duration didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. You can see the chat capture in a Storify by Liz McCarthy.

The last has just happened now. Late Sunday night I remembered it was the anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s death thus I must post out information about all our Owen resources ASAP. Whilst dealing with my multiple WW1-related social media accounts, I fell across a debate @sommecourt was having on the role of the War poets in the remembering the First World War. I have a lot to say on this subject so jumped in with an #excuseme. As more joined the conversation, more characters  got taken up @-ing eachother. We didn’t reach the stage of the hashtag but trying to place an  argument into 70 characters after @names, is a real challenge. And whilst I didn’t get across everything  I wanted to as well as I wanted to, it really made me think deeply bout my argument and the key points. If I was to write an essay on the subject I would certainly feel like I had considered the question carefully in advance via the medium of Twitter. So for me. Yes. Twitter can be used as pedagogical tool. Certainly. And what’s more I got to batt ideas with some big names in the field.

All in all, a good week on Twitter. And I like that even though I teach courses on Twitter and offer consultancy, I am still learning interesting ways to use it myself.

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