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Creative Education

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UKEdChat – Amazing CPD or Information Overload?

Spiralling the ICT Curriculum

There’s a CPD revolution happening and you’d hardly know.  Every week hundreds of teachers engage – willingly – in an hour long CPD session from the comfort of their own homes.

 

UKEdChat or #UKEdChat to the Twitter savvy among you is a whole new way of approaching CPD.  Now I’m not going to slate the traditional way as I have testimonials from thousands of delegates each year telling me that our one day training courses have had a real impact on their teaching; BUT I’m more than a little bit interested in this new, free, innovative and cutting edge form or CPD.

 

At its best it’s a fast moving, up to the minute, innovative exchange of ideas.

 

At its worst it’s inaccessible information overload that’s hard to follow.

 

I’ve heard both views – a lot and I’m not sure where I stand on the topic.

 

A lot can depend on how good the moderator is.  Each week there is one of a series of moderators.  Their job is to decide on the potential questions for this week’s UKEdChat.  To encourage people to take part, to keep the conversation moving once it’s happening, to highlight and retweet excellent tweets to ensure they are heard and to create a summary after the end of the chat.

 

The best moderators come up with really engaging questions which can realistically be tackled during the hour long chat session.  They ask just the right questions at just the right moments to keep things moving and they effectively highlight all the most salient points.  They also work hard to make sure that anyone who’s taking part for the first time is gently encouraged to get involved and is made to feel that their opinion counts.

 

Being a UKEdChat moderator is a hard job – I know because I stepped into the breach once and I’ve never known an hour go so fast.  Blistered fingers and blurred vision were the result and I’m not even sure I did a good job.  I did love it and I would love to do it again (hey @Colport… if you’re reading this take note ;-) ) as I quickly came to realise what a pivotal role it is in making UKEdChat a success.

 

You generally only hear the positives about UKEdChat and on the whole I’m a big fan.  I’ve learnt a vast amount from the dozen or so I’ve taken part in.  The sheer volume of people involved means that there are always a huge range of ideas and opinions being exchanged at all phases and abilities.  The views of everyone from head teachers to teaching assistants are voiced and there are links a plenty.  A huge number of positives… so what is there not to like?

 

Well… and I’m sure this will count as one of those controversial viewpoints which will invite both comments and hatred but I think it has to be said… there are problems with UKEdChat.  It’s fantastic but it’s not perfect.

 

It gets more and more popular so the sheer number of people involved now means that it is complete information overload.  When it’s an engaging topic literally hundreds of tweets are floating around, many points are repeated both because people share views and because lots of people retweet the best tweets.  In the early days I would try and read everything and found that was near enough impossible.  I also used to wait until an appropriate moment to make my point, but again you can’t do that… you just have to shout over the masses and hope!  It’s a bit like having a staff meeting where everyone’s allowed to talk at the same time…

 

UKEdChat can also be extremely daunting for newcomers.  Lots of people already know each other and everyone seems to know the rules of engagement.  I can only begin to imagine how many people sit on the sidelines each week unable to get a word in edgeways.

 

There can also be a bias towards edtech topics – which is fantastic as it’s hard to get CPD on those topics elsewhere but at the same time I think it probably makes UKEdChat doubly inaccessible to those colleagues of ours that we’d love to introduce to Twitter and UKEdChat but who maybe find the photocopier a bit challenging.

 

I’ve taken a bit of a UKEdChat break the last few weeks as I’ve had another commitment on a Thursday night but having thought through the pros and cons of UKEdChat and having really missed the fast paced innovative ideas exchange I used to enjoy on a Thursday night I’m heading back this week.  Despite some misgivings I think it’s an absolutely fantastic CPD resource and I’m willing to contribute in any way to keep it that way.

 

 

So what do you think?  Does UKEdChat offer fantastic CPD or is it simply information overload?  I’d love to discuss this further… either comment below or tweet me @CreativeEdu

 

 

You may also be interested in:

 

Twittering classes for teachers – Guardian.co.uk

 

If you want to know more about UKEdChat read this post.

 

If you want to know more about using hashtags read this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I’ve also found it to be both great and very difficult to follow. I think the very nature of the contributors influences the flavour of the discussion, which is indicative of a wider trend in society. There’s so much information now that we select by following what our friends like. This has the counterintuitive effect of narrowing our horizons rather than broadening them. Teachers using Twitter to chat about education at 8pm on a Thursday are bound to lean towards tech and be passionate about it.

    When tweeting during a ukedchat, I’ve learned to be much more circumspect having been instantly challenged for a few ill conceived statements early on. The problem is, it’s often so fast paced that by the time I’ve come up with a reasoned answer, the discussion has moved on. Like that bit after a party when you think “If only I’d said that then, I would have been witty and erudite and charming….”

    The bonus is that I’ve been exposed to hundreds of great ideas, truly brilliant people to follow and been forced to really clarify my own ideas and philosophies. Overall, it’s definitely a positive thing, and I can’t see how it could be improved in it’s present format. The logs avaiable afterwards are great for digesting what’s just happened at a more reasonable pace. I just need to remember to keep seeking out different viewpoints too!

    • I agree that the summaries / archives afterwards can be a goldmine of information even if you can’t quite keep pace at the time. One of the trickiest things can be to follow the thread of the various conversations happening simultaneously I find.

      Love your party analogy.. and so true! I think that one thing that is surprising – and good – is that in amongst the hundreds of tweets, the few outstanding ones are always picked out and highlighted again and again.

  • SchoolDuggery

    I’m not a teacher, so don’t participate but occasionally lurk from a distance. I can see that the fast pace makes a conversation difficult, but I find watching the stream fascinating and inspiring. It shows teachers at their best – engaging, thinking and always trying to improve their own practice.

    • I think this is a really positive spin. I’m not a teacher either and often lurk at the beginning thinking I won’t be able to contribute but end up getting sucked in as I find it all so fascinating and always have questions which I find are readily answered which in turn aids my understanding. I’ve found UKEdChat is somewhere where there are no silly questions, if you put your hand up and ask a question you’ll always get helpful answers and never made to sit in the corner with a Dunce’s hat!

  • I think it reflects the medium it is being used to communicate through. Fast paced and encouraging reflection on the fly. I wouldn’t really complain about it as a medium. People who take a whole week to answer one email might find it an overload but others used to the speed of digital communications won’t. I’m 55 this year and I don’t find it onerous at all but that might just be my own personality type and the fact I’ve been actively involved in online comms for over 20 years. Again, I can’t see what would make it any better. The archive is the place to take time over – I’d like to see that indexed, though, for it to be of real value.

    • I wonder if it will ever get TOO big though? The more people who participate in UKEdChat the more points of view and better exchange of ideas, but inevitably, the weeks when everyone is really engaged and it’s particularly fast and furious are the weeks when it’s a little harder to follow. What if it continues to grow in popularity until 10 or 100 x as many people are participating?

  • I agree with Andy that sometimes it can be daunting. I certainly don’t join every week, choosing those topics that interest me. My concern is about where CPD is going to come from in the future. I think UKEDCHATs & Teach Meets are going to be key. Maybe the real life conference in August will he.lp move an excellent initiative to the next stage

    • If you, as a seasoned tweeter find it daunting then imagine what it must feel like to the less tech savvy / twitter novice?? That said, I’ve always found that newbies are always welcomed with open arms and that the UKEdChat group are a particularly friendly bunch.

      I agree with you that the conference will be a very valuable event. We’re in discussion with Colin (@Colport) about being involved at the moment as we’re keen to support the event if we can.

  • @mjowchs

    It is probably easier to follow the chat using tweetdeck or similar rather than in Twitter is self so that you can filter the streams a bit more but it can be fast and furious, controversial but generally taken in good humour so jump in rather than sitting on the edge.

    I get involved with sub conversations as it can be ovewhealming to try and follow all the threads and there is some duplication as the same topic is debated in more than one corner of the room, but fun, thought provoking, useful but also free.

    There is lots of primary secondary cross over and by splitting it to make the groups smaller would loose some of the cross phase/subject discussion and my bugbear at the moment is compartmentalising, so break down the walls and offer your opinion outside your speciality!

    • I have to admit that the day I discovered TiwtterFall UKEdChat became a lot more fun and meaningful for me!

      I think you make a really valid point that one of the great things about UKEdChat is the very fact that so many different types of people are all pushed together and the idea sharing goes beyond the traditional boundaries of phase or subject. I too think that a lot would be lost by making the groups smaller – if that were even possible.

      I would be really interested to know how many people started using Twitter especially so that they could take part in #UKEdChat – I wouldn’t mind betting it’s a fair few!

  • I’ve found that I’ve participated less and less as the weeks have gone on (I’ve even stopped updating my personal archive of UKEdChat conversations).

    I do think that teachers providing CPD for other teachers is the best model, and the best CPD comes in from in-house, or as close as possible. I’ve had one or two good ideas from UKEdChat, in topics that have been relevant to my phase/interests but it isn’t perfect and these are the problems I see:

    Sheer number of people. It was manageable at first and now even with a tool like Twitterfall it is very hard to keep track and respond before comments vanish of your screen.

    When it started off lots of the participants followed each other and it was like a big clique with mutual backslapping/viewpoints. I think this isn’t as bad now that new faces have joined but there are still a significant number of familiar faces

    Useless information. I don’t want to know that you can’t come and participate in ukedchat because you have knitting club, or that you’ve just opened a bottle of wine and put your feet up. Tweet this without the hashtag for your followers who care. I don’t!

    The topics are chosen from cutting issues, but are often things that the typical teacher can’t do much about, or is not in a position to change. In this situation it turns into more of an unburdening than a useful discussion (or turns to idealism).

    I’d be interested to hear from people for whom #UKEdChat has given them some fantastic ideas or transformed their lives, or alternatively just where it has had measurable impact.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Rob – and sorry about the formatting!

      I think you’ve made some really good points and even in the short time I’ve been on the scene it’s got a lot bigger and more difficult to follow.

      The point about topic choice is an interesting one which hadn’t really occurred to me specifically before though I have sometimes wondered how much actionable discussion happens. On a good day it is very positive and lots of ideas / good practice are shared but on the (occasional) bad day it can be a bit of a moaning session! That said, maybe it’s good for us to all have a good moan, it just may not address the CPD need quite so much those days!

      Your idea about trying to gather together views form people that UKEdChat has had a measurable impact is a really good one. I will add it to my to do list. I think it would make for some very interesting reading!

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  • I think #ukedchat a fantastic demonstration of social media at is best despite it being like drinking from a waterfall. But I’m curious about the cascade at the margins; examples of where these rapid exchanges seed new collaborations between teachers or between schools, or the indirect impact on teachers that don’t themselves participate. I wonder if it would be possible to have a reflective session geared towards capturing more information about these indirect benefits. Does anyone else think this is a good idea or want to comment on how it could be achieved?

  • Ian Simpson

    Pooky, I think that the issues with #ukedchat are general issues with Twitter itself. I agree with the analogy of drinking from a waterfall. Perhaps, as the group expands, there will be more than one session per week allowing various topics to be discussed with an interested percentage taking part. Maybe this wouldn’t work or would create an administrative headache for the chairs! However I agree with the earlier point that the archive should be indexed and would recommend this as a starting point for those new to ukedchat: they can see how short responses need to be, the etiquette of participating if you want! They will also see that most people participating get something wrong from time to time – we are all human after all – and we don’t need to agree with each other either!!

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