As the culture of our chat begins to take shape, I've been actively tapping into resources in my PLN to help to better develop awareness and involvement in it. Most recently, I was able to have a Google HangOut with Tanya Avrith and Holly Clark, who have co-founded #cdnedchat and #caedchat respectively. They have both been incredibly kind and supportive by sharing resources and words of wisdom as we move forward with this chat.
If you are considering starting your own Twitter edchat in your area or about a specific topic, here is the information I've gathered so far that can help to make it successful.
I cannot stress enough the importance of promotion as you begin a chat. Getting the word out to gain participation is imperative to a chat's success. Depending on the type of audience you'd like to draw in, the promo can look different. For a provincial/state-wide chat, it's best to get a small group of people that will help get the word out by tweeting and retweeting your posts. For a smaller chat (for example, specific to a school district) you may want to aim your promo tweets at the specific people that you want involved instead of sending out a blanket invitation. No matter your target audience, be sure to promo as often as possible (without being obnoxious) as tweets disappear down a Twitter feed relatively quickly.
2) WEBSITE & TWITTER ACCOUNT
This step is probably more necessary for larger-scale chats that would host several participants. I developed a website for #bcedchat with a page for topic selection using a Google form which has been gathering us several new topics to choose from for upcoming chats. While I chose Google sites due to its ease of use with Google Drive, docs, and forms, there are many different site hosts you can choose from and alternate ways to run polls or topic suggestions for upcoming chats. We most recently developed a Twitter account for @bcedchat which we will use for promotional purposes as well as tweeting out introductory and closing comments in the chats themselves.
3) CHAT COMMITTEE/COLLABORATION TEAM
This was something that came highly suggested by Tanya and Holly, as there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of an edchat. Now that we have the chat started, it has become apparent that there will be weekly tasks of promotion, topic and question development, pre-scheduling tweets, archiving, and of course, moderating the chat itself. Burn-out will most definitely occur if only one or two people are responsible for continuing to do all of this every week when real-life demands decide to strike hard. Surrounding your chat with a great group of people to help run it when you can't is important not only for the chat, but for you, the founder. Depending on the size of your chat, you probably don't need a lot of people for this job, but you will want to ensure they have a common vision in mind as you collaborate on a direction for the chat together.
Thanks for reading - these are merely my reflections as Bryn and I have embarked on this journey with getting #bcedchat off the ground. I'm sure that in a few weeks, I will be able to add so much more as we play with and learn about this process.