For those who do not know about it, #Edchat is a weekly chat about education that takes place at noon and 7 PM ET every Tuesday on Twitter. It has involved as many as a thousand teachers globally putting out over 3,000 tweets in an hour. #Edchat has existed continuously for two years, taking only 2 weeks of for Christmas and New Years. #Edchat has won awards and has been written about in every major US educational Journal. Additionally, since #Edchat began, about 60 other chats have popped up over the years. Chat Listing: Cybraryman’s Educational Chats on Twitter
One criticism often voiced about #Edchat is that it is an echo chamber. I always assumed that meant it was a discussion with many like-minded individuals giving opinions on topics that they all already agreed upon before the discussion. After participating in both #Edchats every Tuesday for two years with few exceptions, I feel that I do have a somewhat considered opinion. #Edchat does have its detractors. Not everybody gets it, and that is okay. Social Media offers many opportunities for educators to involve themselves in a multitude of ways that they are comfortable with and also meets their needs.
It is not surprising that many #Edchat participants have similar interests and philosophies. Two years ago Social Media attracted many people who used and were comfortable with technology. They tended to be some of the more progressive among educators. Today more and more educators are being attracted to Social Media for professional purposes. Many are being exposed to ideas that are not generated from their own schools. Ideas are being discussed that, before now, were not generally discussed in their buildings. They are being exposed to ideas that they can now take back to their buildings to be shared for possibly the first time. These discussions not only offer a glimpse of what other educators think globally, but it prepares participants with a perspective that they may not have gotten in their own building.
At one time it was referred to as “airing dirty laundry”. Today we call it “Transparency”. We demand it of government, so why not demand it of education as well. #Edchat does not offer change, but it does allow for the change discussion. Teachers and administrators may be hearing on #Edchat what they should be hearing in their schools but they are not. It arms educators with ideas and perspectives to fight for change in their buildings.
In many schools today the ideas of: true leadership, assessment, authentic learning, grading, high stakes testing, Social Media impact, and even Homework, have been stagnated in schools through complacency. The status quo remains in many schools without being challenged. If #Edchat was truly an echo chamber for all educators, why would we even need to discuss reform?
It seems to be fairly clear that the system needs to change from what it is, to what we need. The what-we-need part is the struggle. It will take a discussion of ideas to hammer out the needs of the system. Discussions should to take place where educators gather. Influences within buildings are limited. Influences in Social Media are many, and now becoming more diverse. What may seem as an echo chamber to some may be an inspiration to others. There are 7.2 million teachers in the USA. Only a fraction, a very small fraction, of those educators, is on social media for professional reasons. We need more transparent discussions to properly address the needs of the system. We must have these needs addressed not by politicians, and business people who know marketing, business strategies and profits, but by educators who know about education and children.
The real value of educational chats like Edchat lies not in the immediate chat, but what comes after. Yes. Many educators in these chats are in agreement on some of the topics. If they are good ideas and have value why wouldn’t people support them? It is that very support of good ideas that needs to be witnessed and carried off to other educators. If those ideas were supported by every educator, these problems would be solved and there would need to be discussions of something else.
The effect of the chats on educators for further reflection is testimony to their influence. After these chats a further exploration of these ideas takes place in education blogs around the world. Each of these Posts requires a new set of comments and further reflection. Many participants carry the subjects back to colleagues in their buildings. Administrators involved in these chats appreciate the worth of many of the chat Topics and carry them back to their buildings for further thought and future action.
#Edchat and the other chats will not be around forever. In the world of technology and Social Media things change or disappear in a relatively short period of time. Discussions, however, have been with us from the beginning. We need to continue to transparently discuss our problems and concerns no matter what the platform is that we use. We also need to share the ideas with those most affected, as well as the decision makers. I consider #Edchat, and all the other chats with us and those yet to come not as Echo chambers, but as sounding boards for educational ideas ideas ideas deas eas as s….