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Taking #PEChat further with Branch

[vimeo 47334795]

Branch from Branch on Vimeo.

[Update: You can now join the Team #PhysEd Branch Group, without having to ask to join, by going here]

#PEChat is great and, judging by yesterday’s awesome chat, it can lead to great discussion.

That being said, Twitter chat’s can sometimes be difficult to follow (especially given the very frequent, very interesting, and very off-topic tangents that occur). On top of Twitter chats being sometimes difficult to follow, having to edit down your thoughts to 140 characters can sometimes leave ideas underdeveloped.

In comes Branch, an exciting new platform to host discussion. I’ve been toying around with the notion of incorporating Branch into the #PhysEd communities’ arsenal, and, with the announcement of Branch Groups, I think the timing is now perfect.

What is Branch?

Branch is a service that lets you bring groups of people together to have public conversations (thanks to @branch for the description). It launched earlier this year and it has a bunch of features that I think could prove to be quite useful for the type of discussions the #physed community likes to have.

1. Start a conversation about pretty much anything. You can start a conversation on Branch by starting off with a thought, link, piece of media, or a tweet. You can even add a “Take it to Branch” bookmarklet to your browser to make starting conversations a breeze. Once you have your topic, you then have 750 characters (which is nice) to elaborate on your opening argument or position.

Start a branch and invite others.

2. You can then invite people (via email or Twitter) to join in to your branch (conversation). When people join in, they will be able to see the conversation so far and add their own thoughts to the branch.

3. If you join in a branch and see a comment from someone else that sparks an idea in your mind, you can actually start a whole new Branch based on that comment (this is great for tangents)

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4. Branches can be embedded on your website, or shared on Twitter, to help the ideas developed in them get exposed to even more people.

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5. Once you think a branch topic has been fully explored, you can close the conversation. The threaded discussion will then be saved on your Branch account.

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How can Branch be useful for #PhysEd?

#PEChat allows participants to learn in a lot of different ways. Personally, I always seem to get the most out of each chat when two people with a higher understanding of the topic start digging deeper into arguments/ideas. Combine that with others asking pertinent questions, and what you’ve got is a wealth of information.

Branch will allow us to invite experts (who may or may not be on Twitter) to take part in discussions on a topics which they are experts on. It will also allow the members of the community chime in and ask questions. Conversations on Branch can last several days without getting lost in your Twitter stream, and can be revisited whenever you like.

Personally, I think Branch will help us raise the bar for #pechat discussions by allowing us to have more room to develop ideas, and by allowing conversations to go on for a longer amount of time. If you’re interesting in learning more about Branch, check them out at Branch.com

Once you’re there, feel free to join the Team #PhysEd Branch Group.

So what do you think? Can Branch help take #pechat to the next level? Let me know in the comments below or, better yet, let me know on the “Can Branch Help Enhance #PEChat?” branch.

Thanks for reading!

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

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