Moderating a Twitter Chat

Greetings to all you Twitter chatters out there, those who’ve been painstakingly working through a hectic summer and those who have just returned from a well-needed break before the academic year begins again. As you may well know, #eltchinwag has been on summer break for the past eight weeks; we felt it necessary to give us all a little rest and rejuvenation before jumping back on the ever-advancing CPD wagon.

Excitingly, our next chinwag is set to happen on International Literacy Day, Monday September 8th. While teaching literacy is a topic choice for the chat, there are others which may suit our participants better. You can make your voice heard by voting here.

On the topic of Twitter chats, we thought it might be interesting for you to hear how they are moderated. Those of you who’ve taken part in one before will no doubt have identified that there is always a person, sometimes more than one, there to provide help, clarity and guidance during the discussion. Without them, well, chaos would most likely reign. Here’s a quick outline of what happens prior to and post moderating a Twitter chat, and in particular, #eltchinwag.

In the week or so leading up to the chat, the topic is communicated and shared as much as possible to try to generate interest and encourage tweeters to participate. This is greatly bolstered by followers retweeting and sharing links.  Meanwhile, build-up articles and videos connected to the topic are sourced online and posted across social media to stimulate ideas and maybe juice up the chat a little.

On chat day, we all gather remotely (it’s quite cool actually), at the proposed time; for #eltchinwag, this is 20:30 Irish time, which is the same as BST. Our moderator welcomes everyone to the chat and gets the ball rolling by posting a comment or question. Tweeters then begin to reply to the question, offering their own ideas and experiences. In order to maintain a type of organised flow, we try to keep everyone to topic as much as possible.

The moderator continues to post a variety of pre-prepared questions throughout the chat thus ensuring a wide scope of reactions and experiences are covered under the chosen topic. Having designed the questions pre-chat, he/she is then able to choose from a bank and fire them off quickly based on the direction the chat is going.

twitter self

In addition to posting apt questions, the moderator is also responsible for making sure that nobody is confused, stuck or being left unanswered. Twitter chats are fast, and sometimes people just don’t see posts by others. This can, at times, make people feel as though they are not doing things correctly. We encourage perseverance and often retweet or favourite their comments in order to increase visibility. When chats are very busy, there will often be two moderators who identify themselves at the beginning so that everyone knows who to ask for help. Participants tweet at these people when they are having issues during the chat and they are helped as quickly and best as possible.

As finishing time begins approaching, the moderator then needs to call for a summary writer. It can be quite a daunting task to write a summary because there are so many tweets to sift through. If nobody volunteers, the moderator will do the summary if they have time. Otherwise, the transcript only is posted online and a summary is written at a later date or not at all. Finally, the moderator thanks everyone for coming, closes off the chat and announces when the next will take place.

So, as you can see, moderating a Twitter chat is not just about being there and saying hello. It requires you to be alert and firing off a few cylinders. It’s great though, as you get to read so many different comments and points of view, even if you don’t always get to respond to them.

Watch out for #eltchinwag coming your way on September 8th at 20:30. Topic will be announced on Saturday, so get your votes in now.

Moderators on Monday are @ELTIreland and @Jane_Seely

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