Thursday, April 28, 2016

Learn Short, Learn Fast, Learn A Lot

One hour. That's all you get. But it's one hour jam packed with ideas, revolving around a specific topic. 

Last night at two minutes to nine, I realized that I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to participate in a Twitter Chat. So I dove right in.

A Twitter Chat is a discussion, or "event", the time for which is predetermined, as is the topic (usually), and led by a moderator (again - usually). Last night's ELT Chat was due to be EITHER about using Twitter in the classroom, OR about Snapchat. The topic is usually democratically decided for this chat by taking a poll before the chat begins, but last night's topic was tied. In the end, it wound up being about BOTH, in a way. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the two different tools. 

The discussion goes on fast and furious, and in order to keep up with the conversation, you need to be tuned into a hashtag. Does that sound like Greek to you? Hopefully it will make sense by the end of this post.

First of all you need a Twitter account, and it helps if you use a tool like Tweetdeck which can isolate the topics into columns depending on how you label them. For example, I have a column for any tweets that use my Twitter handle; another column for tweets that include specific hashtags. I add or remove columns as suits me. It's an easy tool to learn and use, with tons of tutorials out there (I made two in Hebrew, if you prefer).  

Using Tweetdeck, I opened a column for the tweets that use the hashtag #ELTchat and a few minutes before it was due to begin, I grabbed a glass of water, logged in and hunkered down. 

At exactly 21:00 (Israel time) the conversation set sail! If you wanted to respond to something someone said, you hit "reply", if you wanted to say something unconnected to what anyone else had said, you sent a new tweet. All interactions in the conversation had to have the #ELTchat tag, (something which I realized a bit late... I had thought that if I wanted to respond to someone, the hashtag would be included, as it were, from the person's comment which I was replying to, but I learned the hard way.) Although it's annoying to type it in each time, you can just copy it and then bang it in anywhere in your reply (beginning or end, usually) and your two cents will be seen by all those participating, thus keeping you in the conversation. 

It wasn't always easy to keep up (and the moderator said that this had been a relatively "tame" chat ;-) ) but you can always read back (even now I am looking through the chat which can be found on Twitter any time, by going back to the hashtag and the date and time when the chat took place).

At 21:50 someone (the moderator, maybe?) called for people to start summing up the chat... and at 22:00 the window closed, and everyone logged out.  WOW did I learn a LOT! I "befriended" some experienced and knowledgeable people, who I am now following on Twitter, and I took away some REALLY good resources for learning about Twitter and using it in the classroom, and even more importantly, as a PLN (Personal Learning Network) which is in essence, what we did in the Twitter Chat, itself. (I'll tweet the resources out over the next few days, follow me - @AdeleRaemer - and look for them via the hashtag #IsraEd). 

So....are you ready to jump into the fray? All you need to do is to find a tweetchat that is interesting or relevant to you, at a time that suits you. They are going on, quietly, quickly, behind our backs in Twitterdome virtually 24/7 on practically any topic (not only digital pedagogy) you could ask for - and LOTS for EFL educators. Have a look here

Hope to see some of you join the #ELTchat which takes place every Wednesday at 21:00 Israel time! If you want to be on the directory of educators on @ELTchat, get to vote for the topic and be notified of the next chat, you can register here.

Do YOU participate in tweet chats? If so, please tell us what they are about, which language they are in and what the hashtag is! 

Digitally yours,


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Webinars and Tweetchats - No More Excuses


....but taking the time, travelling, finding relevant and helpful sessions.... it's not always that easy.

If only you could do it from home....

Oh! You CAN!

Have you ever participated in a webinar? A webinar is a seminar that is conducted via the Internet. I had the great honor of being able  not only to participate in one, but to teach part of it, as well!

The session I co-presented with my colleague Sigalit Arditi, was about why teachers should be on twitter. I also ran a twitter backchannel for the Webinar (which can still be seen by searching for the hashtag #e_kenes on twitter). A back channel is a twitter feed which houses comments, questions, insights and discussions about the sessions going on, as they are going on (sort of like passing notes during a lecture - but not considered rude ;-) .

The webinar was one of the first I am aware of for teachers in Israel, conducted in Hebrew. The instructors were lead counselors for digital pedagogy in the Israeli Ministry of Education. It was deftly hosted by CET (Center for Educational Technology) and had multiple parallel sessions, organized according to topics including social networking, interactive lessons using Web2 Tools, tools for presenting information, digital assessment and even more!

If you missed this webinar, you can go into webinar  site and watch recordings of some of the sessions. Ours is here. 

You can find out more about free webinars on different educational topics in English here.

Another free option for learning online, is participating in tweetchats, which are learning opportunities that take place completely on twitter - a superb tool for professional enrichment AND push you to hit the ground running with twitter, improving proficiency and self-confidence in tweeting! You can find tweetchats on different education-related topics literally round the clock. The REALLY cool part of it is that you can find the discussions, long after they're over, by searching for the hashtag used. If there was a tweetchat that you wanted to attend but couldn't, you never need to miss a thing!  One of my favorite hashtags is #GoogleEduOnAir but there are lots out there... seek # and ye shall find. 
Just so I do not sign off before shamelessly plugging twitter as a PLN again, check out the Education Chat Calendar and Top Twitter Hashtags for Teachers . Finally, you do NOT want to miss Teach Thought.  No excuses not to enrich yourself any more. 

Sigalit and I are continuing the discussion we began at the webinar, by tweeting ideas and resources for utilizing twitter as a PLN as well as a tool in the classroom tagged #IsraEd. Follow us at @sigardit and @AdeleRaemer. Look up #IsraEd and join us in the conversation!

Digitally yours, 


P.S. Remember.........