by Joey Feith
#PEChat, the weekly Twitter chat hosted by ThePhysicalEducator.com on all things #physed, has been an amazing success. Each week, hundreds of physical educators flock to Twitter (pun intended) to take part in this online professional development experience. Seriously, it’s super cool.
That being said, I think it’s time that we start thinking of taking #pechat to the next level. Remember that the goal of #pechat is to help physical educators improve their teaching through frequent, engaging, and meaningful professional development that is focused on good teaching practice.
What I would like to do here is to outline some of the issues I’ve had with #pechat and propose a new format which should provide solutions to those problems. However, because #pechat is and always will be a community experience, I would really appreciate your input on this. If #pechat has taken off so well, it’s because of all of you. So I very much so would like you all to be a part of its re-imagining.
Problem One: #PEChat Schedule
Currently, #pechat polls open on Thursdays and the community is invited to vote on a selection of topics. The polls then close on Saturday, and the topic is then announced via Twitter.
This gives #pechat moderators and participants just over 24 hours (of weekend time) to prepare for the chat.
Solution One: New #PEChat Schedule Format
I want moderators and participants to have plenty of time to prep and familiarize themselves with each #pechat topic. Therefore, I’d like to open the #pechat topic polls only once per month.
The polls would open mid-month for the following month’s topics. They would remain open for three days to allow the community to vote on the upcoming month’s #pechat topics. The four most popular topics would make the cut for the following month (in order of popularity).
This would give moderators and participants at least two weeks to prep for the next month’s first #pechat topic. What they could use this prep time for will be described next.
Problem Two: Quality of #PEChat Discussions
I have found that because of the lack of time to prep/familiarize ourselves on each #pechat topic, the quality of our discussions isn’t always as high as it could be. In many #pechat situations, we don’t have a great amount of knowledge on the topic being discussed going into the chat. This reduces engagement (i.e. the quality of the discussion and the amount of people joining in on it).
Solution Two: Suggested Readings & Guest Moderators
In the weeks leading up to any given #pechat, I would create a simple system where community members could submit suggested readings that would help give a better understanding of the upcoming #pechat’s topic. Readings could include blog posts, newspaper articles, journal articles, and/or any other media pieces that could provide insight on the topic.
On top of suggested readings, community members could provide names of thought leaders (e.g. academics, speakers, etc) on each topic. I would then reach out to those thought leaders and invite them to participate in the #pechat as a guest moderator.
Problem Three: #PEChat Objectives
Each week I outline a few objectives that I hope we can achieve through #pechat (it’s those questions you’ll find on the #pechat Twitter card). However, who am I to decide alone what the community wants to get out of each #pechat? Although I like to think that, as a fellow physical educator, I have a good idea of what we should try to cover, I believe there is a better way of choosing objectives.
Solution Three: Crowdsourced #PEChat Objectives
Because we would now have a couple of weeks between knowing the topic and the date of that #pechat, I would like to set up a system where community members could submit their own objectives for each chat. These crowdsourced objectives would be included on the #pechat topic card on ThePhysicalEducator.com’s #PEChat page.
Problem Four: #PEChat Summaries & Missed Opportunities
Even though we try to make #pechat accessible to everyone by having it spread out over 24 hours and broken down into 5 moderated portions, sometimes Life happens and you find yourself missing out on #pechat.
For most #pechats, I create a Storify summary which groups all of the tweets with the #pechat hashtag that took place between @kellyannparry’s opening tweet to @adamphowell’s closing one. Although that can allow people to read through what happened, it doesn’t really open any doors for further discussion.
Solution Four: #PEChat Follow Up Blog Posts
I would suggest that from now on, #pechat summaries would be posted in a follow up blog post on ThePhysicalEducator.com. Doing so would provide anybody who couldn’t share their two cents during #pechat an opportunity to continue the discussion in the blog post’s comments section.
Ok, so there are some of my ideas. Now it is your turn: how do you believe we could make #pechat better? I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my suggestions and any ideas you may have in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and happy teaching!
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