Monday, April 23, 2012

Who Am I? The 10 Types of Twitter Chat Participants

Source: ASIDE, iconspedia
It took us a while to feel comfortable in a Twitter chat. Freewheeling and at times imposing, the chats feature quick ticks of smart blurbs. Experts with 1,000+ followers definitely made us hesitate to offer our own two cents. After a few months of experimentation, though, we plunged in. Our experiences have been almost universally positive. We’ve met passionate educators who’ve offered lesson tips, curriculum theories, and project proposals to enrich our classes in unforeseen ways.

Source: Jakob Nielsen, Useit
If you haven't yet checked out a Twitter chat, we enthusiastically recommend it. The more voices who add to the conversation, the richer the dialog will be. In fact, experts estimate that roughly 90% of interactions, from blogs to chats to social networks, are contributed by only 10% of the online population. Usability engineer Jakob Nielsen points to this imbalance in his article, "Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users To Contribute." In the quest to inspire more educators to experiment with Twitter chats, we here offer a list of the many generous teachers who've helped us build our PLN.

Some chats feature a series of guiding questions. Some have moderators to shepherd the discussions. Most, though, welcome a free exchange of ideas united by a unique hashtag. The best colloquies feature testimonies from personal experiences and include relevant links to blog posts or web resources. They all thrive on a respectful collegiality that gives each tweet its due weight. Some of our favorites are #edchat, #sschat, and #isedchat.

Based on a few months of enjoyment in Twitter sessions, here is our take on the 10 types of engaged professionals who might appear in a one-hour chat. Among these participants, the typical Tweeter is a sincere, collaborative user who holds fellow educators in the highest esteem.
Source: ASIDE
1. The Sharer has a wealth of bookmarks and a rich Google Alert catalog. Often well experienced, the Sharer includes links to helpful tools and resources that offer hands-on practicality in implementing the concepts under discussion.

2. The Sage is the marquee name or the highly regarded authority whose tweets are given a special reverence, thanks to years of practice or number of followers. The Sage often helps by reframing issues and adding welcome perspective. A reply or retweet from the Sage is much coveted.

3. The Observer
reads and contemplates, often spectating rather than responding. Grateful for the intriguing ideas, the Observer usually prefers just to absorb, like the thoughtful student in the lecture hall.

4. The Validator will make you feel good. He or she offers supportive agreement on a range of perspectives. Eager and forthright, the Validator recognizes multiple viewpoints and sees both sides of an issue. These tweets emerge in a sunny series of positive reinforcements.

5. The Sidebar often finds himself or herself in a corner conversation. Sometimes after a few mass messages, the Sidebar checks his or her interactions and spends the rest of the hour engaged in an enjoyable, illuminating exchange with two or three other people.

6. The Overwhelmed happily sends out periodic “Ack!” statements regarding the giddy deluge of ideas. In appreciation of the non-stop stream of suggestions, the Overwhelmed is agreeably un-shy about fessing up to his or her trouble in keeping up. Almost every chatter has at one point been pleasantly overwhelmed.

7. The Planner wisely checks the chat theme in advance. Polls are often taken ahead of time to determine a topic and allow participants to prepare meaningful responses. The Planner considers the many dynamics of a subject and offers well-written, intelligent contributions. This smart strategy can help an Overwhelmed feel more sure-footed.

8. The Reformer recognizes the changes evolving in the educational world and looks ahead rather than backward. Instead of sharing past lessons, the Reformer speaks of future revamps to curriculum and testing, often including the @ of a reform-minded government figure or celebrity.

9. The Promoter is usually a blogger, looking for ways to publicize his or her posts. The Promoter is a genuine practitioner with insight and integrity, but his or her links often direct back to a blog in the name of building overall hits.

10. The Jester is witty and playful with a relaxed jocularity and a skill with Twitter wordplay. He or she often knows other “regulars” personally and adds personality and humor to the educational exchanges. These tweets bring grins and liveliness to the repartee.

Source: ASIDE, PhireDesign
The Twitter chat stands out as an emerging discourse, a new dialogue of open-ended, mass instant messaging with real-time feedback. It is a sort-of book marginalia with immediate reception by the reader. Each comment takes on an unrestrained life in the Twitter ether, bandied about in a potential meme. A tweet becomes a guileless share, assuming an ever-changing meaning in signification with its accompanied replies and retweets.

Be careful, though, because some insular chats do follow their own directives. Last month, for example, we were sternly rebuked in an evening’s #libchat because we didn’t follow an indiscernible (and arcane) protocol in labeling our tweets with the appropriate question marker. We were chided as a “spammer” for not adhering to a dusty, pedantic fiat.

For the best list of weekly chats about teaching and education, we recommend:


  1. Love this list! :D Very insightful! You got it!!
    And you know you are welcome at #Kinderchat anytime!

  2. We love #Kinderchat! Thank you for the kind words.

  3. The post is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration both of which we all need! Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!


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