In #AusELT we want to bring Australasian ELT professionals together to share ideas, experiences and resources. Our monthly #AusELT Twitter chats (modelled on #ELTchat) are a big part of that. We talk about selected topics relating to teaching and learning English, from a teaching/training/managing perspective, and we try to apply our ideas to an Au/NZ context where possible.
Chats take place on every 2 months on the first Sunday of the month, from February to December each year. They have 2 possible formats:
- 1 hour format: from 8.30-9.30pm Sydney time. This format is fast and furious but fun and sociable. There is a lot of to-and-fro and some heated debate!
- ‘Slowburn’ format: from 10am-10pm Sydney time. This is a ‘drop in’, slower-paced format of chat (invented by our #KELTchat colleagues) – there’s no need to be free at a particular time, and you can take your time to read and respond.
Topic-wise, there are different kinds of chat too. Most topics are nominated by #AusELT members on Facebook and Twitter, and some are put to a vote via a poll on this blog. Some topics are chosen and managed by a guest moderator (in the past we have had Scott Thornbury, Jim Scrivener & Adrian Underhill, Paul Driver, Andy Hockley amongst others) or by an #AusELT member who has a particular interest in a given topic. Some chats are free swapshops around a particular theme. We try to strike a balance of different types of chat.
Need help with Twitter?
Never fear. We are a friendly bunch, so just dive in. The information below will help you get started.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online, real-time platform for Tweets, which are like a cross between Facebook status updates and text messages (their maximum length is 140 characters). You only see Tweets that you search for, or from people you ‘follow’. Likewise, your Tweets will only be visible to those who follow you, or have searched a term mentioned by you.
How can Twitter help with professional development?
Twitter is a great tool for PD. You can use it for
- professional reading: Twitter helps you access the latest and best blog posts, tech tools and articles, as well as industry news and events
- sharing information: your Tweets can reach and help a wide audience
- establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
How to start using Twitter for PD
The best way is to really jump in and learn as you go. You can download the #AusELT 1-page Guide to Twitter, which includes Twitter screenshots and a ‘Starter PLN’ with Twitter names of people to follow. Or just follow the steps below to help you get to know the main function buttons and explore how Twitter works.
- Sign up. Go to www.twitter.com and sign up, it only takes a couple of minutes.
- Search. Use the Twitter search bar to find Tweets relating to your interests. Searches are more effective if you use a hashtag (the hash sign, #, followed the name of the category or community you are interested in, e.g., #AusELT).
- Like. Click on the heart symbol to save particular Tweets for later reading or reference. You can revisit your ‘Likes’ easily via your profile page.
- Follow. Start ‘following’ interesting Twitter people. Search for names you know, then click on the Follow button, or click on any tweeter’s name, user name (@name) or profile picture to see their homepage, which includes a Follow button. (The #AusELT 1-page Guide to Twitter contains a ‘Starter PLN’ – a list of ELT people to follow.)
- Settings. Add a picture, a profile and start personalising your page.
- Retweet. Use the Retweet (RT) button to pass useful information, questions or requests for help on to your followers. You can also add your own comments when you do this.
- Reply. Use the Reply button to thank someone for a useful Tweet, ask a question or make a comment.
- Tweet. Tweet your own links, questions or comments.
- Connect. Check under the Notifications tab to see when someone has followed, retweeted, ‘liked’ or mentioned you, and Messages for private messages.
- If you have played around with all this, you are ready to have a go at participating in a live #AusELT chat on aspects of teaching and learning.
How to start participating in Twitter chats
There are a couple of basic steps before you can get started:
- You need a Twitter account, and basic familiarity with how Twitter works (see above).
- Vote for your preferred topic, usually via a poll posted on this blog.
- Go to tweetchat.com or download Tweetdeck for free. Watch this tutorial to find out how to use Tweetdeck for hashtag discussions. This small piece of software will allow you to sort out the #AusELT chat tweets from everything else that’s being tweeted.
- At the right time, turn on your computer, open Tweetdeck and keep your eye on the ‘#AusELT’ column you’ve set up.
- Don’t panic at the number of Tweets appearing. Pick one, and reply to it, remembering to include the #AusELT hashtag. This is important because it allows people to search for tweets that are related to #AusELT. The hashtag allows you to see all #AusELT tweets even when they come from someone you are not following – similarly, people who are not following you can see your #AusELT-tagged tweets.
- Volunteer at the end of the chat to write up the summary 🙂
Tips for better/happier tweeting
- Take opportunities to establish a personal connection with others, e.g., say thank you for a rewteet or to a new follower.
- Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but don’t take this to heart; it takes time to establish a follower base, and nurturing for a PLN to emerge.
- It can be more rewarding to follow people who are keen to share useful information and network, such as ELT bloggers, associations, institutions and colleagues, than to follow ‘celebrities’.
- Others will not see your tweets if you have few active followers, if they are not online at the time when your Tweet is sent, or if your Tweet is getting lost in their busy Twitter feeds. Some ways to address this include: requesting retweets so your followers pass your Tweet onto others, sending the same Tweet again at different times, using specific @names in your Tweet, or adding hashtags, so more people may see your Tweet.
- If it becomes difficult to sift through your feed, try downloading a Twitter app such as Tweetdeck, which allows you to separate Tweets into columns (by hashtag or @name) according to your interests.
For the #AusELT 1-page Guide to Twitter, click here.
For How to write a Twitter chat summary, click here.