Online collaborative projects can be tough logistically for lots of reasons. Distance, schedules, time zones ... the list goes on. As a K-4 technology teacher, I face the additional challenge of needing to coordinate up to FIVE collaborating classes for each of the grade levels I teach. Well, I had an amazing experience yesterday thanks to my blog, Twitter and Facebook that I just had to share here.
My day started with a fairly ordinary blog post requesting partner classes for some collaborative project work I'm planning with my second grade team:
Seeking Second Grade Partner Classrooms for Collaborations, Projects & more! - http://blogs.ncs-nj.org/k4stemlab/?p=1660
I tweeted it out: https://twitter.com/kjarrett/status/511824359548526592 (ok, I do have a lot of followers, more about that in a moment.) Note the hashtag, #2ndchat. That's important...
I also put it on Facebook (I only have 750 or so friends, not that many by most people's standards, and though many are teachers, many aren't.)
Then, the magic happened.
Facebook was the first to blow up. My status update immediately generated comments from interested collaborators, or people who worked with folks who would be interested. I only needed five. As I walked to work, I thought to myself, I'll have my five classes before lunch!
While some people on FB responded directly, others shared my post to their FB networks, with encouraging comments, extending the reach to people I've never met - but who were and are extremely viable partner candidates (and ridiculously cool fellow educators).
Once I got to work and no longer had FB access, I started watching comments blast onto my blog post. There were three when I arrived at school. Then a few more. Then, even more. By lunchtime I was approving comments left and right, and, from around the entire USA and all over the world. Canada. Mexico. New Zealand. Holy crap! I ended up with about 20, and they're still coming in.
Then the direct emails started arriving. Not sure how, since I didn't publish my school email address with the post, but, nonetheless, they were a welcome benefit!
By the end of the day, I had heard from 22 different schools and classrooms from eight different states and four foreign countries. Now I have the difficult task of deciding who to actually partner with! (Fortunately, some of the respondents teach grades other than 2nd, and I can use them for collaborations in my other classes.)
Breaking it down - how did this happen?
Yes, I know, I have a lot of Twitter followers, and that surely helped. But, by using the hashtag #2ndchat (for 2nd grade teachers) I DRAMATICALLY increased the exposure of the tweet. ANYONE CAN DO THIS! I am convinced that is why Twitter generated so many leads.
I posted EARLY in the morning. I have found the hours before work to be the BEST time to find like-minded educators interested in these kinds of cool projects. I believe studies have shown the morning hours are the most productive for Twitter posts, too.
My Facebook friends REALLY came through for me. Between the immediate comments and shares throughout the day, I got almost as much traffic there as from Twitter.
Finally, my blog post got a fair number of hits - 825 yesterday alone. That's a lot - my blog usually only sees a fraction of that visitor volume on a regular day. It could have come from Twitter, FB, or even email shares.
The moral of the story: NEVER underestimate the power of your networks. By using the right channels, the right techniques, and the right timing, ANYONE can get dramatic results like these. Special note to those who are just starting out on Twitter - YOU don't have to have tons of followers - your tweet can be retweeted by people like me who do - and then it's off to the races! So, build your networks carefully - they pay HUGE dividends when you REALLY need them!
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.