Chat Madness!

My contention is that most Twitter chats are about things that most competent teachers should already know.

Is it really necessary to have chat topics on homework, classroom management, administrators preventing innovation, engaging parents, etc. etc?  One chat on a Saturday morning even discussed …substitutes.  UPDATE:  Sunday morning chat on field trips.  #omg

twitterbirdMost Twitter chats are safe, not especially interesting or compelling, and discuss improving what occurs in schools as is, with the intent of making school “as is but only better.”  Many are also repetitive with similar low level questions that result in a never ending educational “stream of consciousness” focused on getting better at 1998.

Isn’t time to use the power of connectivity to go in directions not taken before?

Admittedly, I do have favorite chat topics.  My favorite guilty pleasure is to lurk in a chat about “PD.”  I just can’t resist.  For me, it’s almost like eating bacon.  Almost.  But that is rapidly being challenged by Twitter chats focusing on being a “connected educator” or those on “genius hour.”

Twitter chats are mostly about doing what has always been done better.  Why not use that connectivity to extend thinking, talk about something really bold, something that is provocative, challenging, and disruptive?  Maybe even innovative.

Why not discuss things no one really has a clue about?  Nada.  Nothing.  So it could be #wedonthaveaclueaboutthischat  or  #idonthavethisfiguredoutyetandcouldusesomehelpchat  That’s probably too long, not enough characters for a response, but you get the idea.  #idonthavethisfiguredoutyetandcouldusesomehelpchat wouldn’t be about how to do a scavenger hunt with augmented reality tools, it would be about how to end hunger in schools.  Big. Bold. Necessary. Impactful. Meaningful.  And certainly worth the time.

Why not use the chats to challenge rather than revisit and recap past practice, with the hope of marginally improving those practices?  Why not use the chats to look forward and crowdsource new ideas and directions, rather than look backwards and talk about things that should have already been behind most.  It could be:  #ichallengeyoutomakemyideabetterchat

Why not make them bold enough to make them interesting?  #risktakingchat  #thismightbeadumbideabutImjustpassionateenoughaboutittotakeastandandplantaflagchat

And, seriously, please do not participate in #statingtheobviouschat.  (“If we come to school prepared, our students will learn better.”).  Or, #heythisisnewandletsseehowfastwecanschoolizetheideachat

The most important Twitter chat ever would be:  #mystudentslearnbetterbecauseofmyparticipationinatwitterchatandhereishowIknowchat

So, I’m guessing that most educators think twitter chats are worthwhile.  And if you are new to Twitter, they’re probably “amazing.”  And I get that Twitter chats can break down containers and can reduce some isolation.  They can connect educators together.  That’s good.  Perhaps they may even improve the day to day, nuts and bolts skills of a teacher.  Maybe that’s all that they are intended to be, and will ever be, and maybe that’s enough for you.

But like everything in education, they go only so far, and in my experience, operate within the typical constraints of traditional school-based educational thinking.  In my opinion, they’re simply not brave enough, not bold enough, and the topics and conversations I’ve seen do not really challenge teachers and education to move forward beyond the current mindset of “school.”

 image courtesy of Creative Tools



  1. Hi David

    Your post made me laugh. Have been thinking along similar lines this week during a couple of chats. I’m one of the behind scenes team for #pypchat, a chat engaging mostly educators in the IB Primary Years Program. I suggested to the team this week that we have a go at something provocative (like Sugata’s Mitra’s statement that knowledge is obsolete) instead of rehashing the elements of the program. It is important to remember though that seemingly less challenging topics can be valuable for less experienced teachers. I once read somewhere (on Twitter of course) that a Twitter chat should be seen like a party – don’t listen to all of it, just get involved in the conversations that interest you. And if none of it interests you, go home 🙂
    If you start a provocative new chat, let me know!

  2. Hello David,
    Interesting take on the widely popular connecting activity of Twitter chats. I actually enjoy them quite a bit, but I agree there is an echo chamber effect that is tough to shake. I would also like to see chats become more daring with their subject matter, but the conversation tends go stagnant when heading into unchartered territory. You would lose some of the organic appeal, but it might be helpful to schedule the topic in advance so that partcipants could prepare and gather resources to enrichen the conversation.
    Thank you for stretching my thinking and providing this forum. Bob

  3. My favorite chat topic to lurk on is “SAMR.” We all have guilty pleasures.

    I find the Twitter chats to be disconnected thoughts that are difficult from which to form meaningful thoughts in the constraints of 140 characters. I have used some of the chats, and I have tried to piece together the tweets, to formulate a complete idea, but usually I am left with more questions. As educators, we should be asking for more than just snippets of ideas, and we should not be making entire arguments from those snippets. A quote I found while examining the lack of research surrounding SAMR (guilty pleasure), and one that I feel applies to our field as a whole, sums up my frustration with Twitter chats being a one stop resource for teachers.

    “. . . applying simplistic models to the development of large-scale technology integration programs, professional developments, and the like without investigating the research and pedagogical beliefs that shape those models is irresponsible and dangerous. Such application flies directly in the face of a profession that emphasizes information-literate behavior: finding, retrieving, analyzing, and using information.”


    Green, L. S. (2014). Through the looking glass: Examining technology integration in school librarianship. Knowledge Quest, 43(1), 36 – 43.

  4. Hey Pal,

    Just stumbling across this now — and one of the things that popped into my mind while reading is that Twitter Chats aren’t really about ideas at all. They are about raising profiles. People participate — either as leaders or as regular members — in order to be seen and to grab followers. Maybe it’s because guys who started the chat craze have been able to monetize that visibility. Maybe it’s because there’s no real chance to stand out in education. Either way, I’ve always semi-questioned the intentions of the people who are neck deep in the chat world.

    That’s what I like the least about social spaces right now. They’ve gone from places where we really did think together and challenge each other to places where we “build presence” and “establish our brand” so that we can cash in on new opportunities. In a ton of ways, those spaces really have become about shameless self-promotion — the ultimate criticism that you could level at someone back on Twitter in the early days.

    Any of this make sense to you?

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