What are you doing on Thursday nights at 8 pm Eastern? If you’re an educator, or just interested in education, consider joining #KyEdChat on Twitter. It’s a weekly, Kentucky specific, conversation about all things education, from the nuts and bolts of curriculum and instruction, to the challenges of leadership and the politics of accountability. Launched by Donnie Piercey, an elementary school teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, with guest moderators (including our very own Roland O’Daniel and Drew Perkins) from the assembled “Tweachers,” #KyEdChat draws educators from throughout Kentucky and beyond, engaging in a fast and lively hour of discussion, thoughtful questions and candid responses. @CTLonline is a regular participant.
Using the “#KyEdChat” hashtag the very first conversation in July included shared tips and thoughts on the use of technology in Kentucky schools, a lightning round of dreaded education buzz words (“all acronyms” was mentioned, along with “standardized testing” and “schema”!), and a discussion about how best to nurture creativity in students in the current tech environment. Subsequent chats have covered project based learning, Common Core teaching resources, and the exciting if slightly scary prospect of inviting second graders to bring their own digital devices into the classroom for a day. Regardless of topic it’s always about collaborating, learning and improving our craft as educators.
Why join #KyEdChat? Why should busy educators use Twitter at all? The answer is simple: Twitter and other social media put a professional learning community and network literally at your fingertips. In an April 2012 piece in District Administration, associate editor Marion Herbert recounts the exponential growth of #EdChat (a regular Twitter conversation without geographical borders and separate from #KyEdChat) from its start with three educators including founder Steven Anderson, instructional technologist for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Schools in North Carolina, to a recurring chat that includes thousands worldwide. Think of participating in a Twitter conversation like #KyEdChat as building your own personal, unlimited virtual library of education resources and experts–local and distant colleagues, representatives of state education agencies, policy makers and others. School districts, keenly aware of the need to keep parents and other stakeholders in the loop, are jumping on the Twitter cyberwagon as well, as described in a February 2010 District Administration piece by Kevin Butler. Don’t worry if you can’t make every Thursday night, you can always search the #KyEdChat hashtag to see past activity including posts throughout the week. This is a great way to reflect and connect with other educators around the world! For you Google+ users there’s even a growing #KyEdChat Google+ Community which allows for a bit less rapid fire approach to sharing and serves as a nice complement to the Twitterverse.
Need to know there are some experienced hands on board before taking the technological leap? For nearly 20 years, @CTLonline has worked with thousands of educators regionally, nationally and internationally, in person and via distance, helping them to advance excellence in teaching and school leadership. CTL’s work has always been aligned with standards and infused with proven yet innovative approaches in areas like content literacy, hybrid algebra instruction, project based learning, technology integration, and learning in and through the arts. With @CTLonline in the conversation, you can be sure you’ll hear from trusted experts, and that your voice will be heard as well.
Embracing social media as a Professional Learning Network can be one of the most rewarding professional growth experiences you’ll find. But don’t limit yourself to #KyEdChat; there are many educational chats to expand your PLN! It’s easy to join the conversation and become part of what KyEdChatter @mikepaul has called “a massive PD experience” in his tutorial video below. You’ll be teaching, learning and engaging with colleagues from wherever you’d like to kick back on a Thursday evening. See you online!