How I learn from Twitter chats

See also how use to Kneaver for Twitter chat
This how chat2lrn typical ends:

QWrap) Chatting is great…but reflection and action are better. What is your ‘take away’ from our chat?

I am a big fan of twitter chats since I discovered #ragansocial focused on social media marketing. later on I found a list of chats and chat2lrn among them. Since then I particpate to a few chats every weeks. It’s a nice moment, an occasion to tweet intelligently and an occasion to learn. You can learn from book and I will write about using Kneaver to learn from books, learning from chat also requires some training. Learning to learn is an activity by itself.

Precisely one of the difficulties is to keep something. I started to use Kneaver to make transcripts automatically in january, last week quite disappointed by Storify I realized I could do as well just by mashing up my RSS trancripts with Twitter Web Intents. Go enough but learning requires the ability to review, annotate, return to previous places. For this purpose I brought what I had in Kneaver learning technology to chats and made a new feature allowing to:

  • extract the exact part of the transcript corresponding to one chat
  • hierarchize the chat by highlighting moderator tweets
  • hightlight questions
  • hightlight answers corresponding to questions

Once I reached this result I realized it was still to much to retain. Such a chat perform at 450 tweets per hour. I added a feature to tag the tweets according to what they brought to me from a learning perspective and then limitate the display to those tags tweets:

  • New ideas: Things I absolutely didn’t know.
  • Eye opener: Contradicting ideas to things I tought but with little ground.
  • Revealed. Ideas expressing ideas I had may be but never explicited.
  • Well said: Better expression of I deas I had.
  • Aha: A whole concept I suddendly become acquainted opening a new range of possibilities not necessarily present in the tweet.
  • To Dig: I didn’t catch or agree but can see some value in it and need to think again or do some investigation.

Categories names could look awkward but what was important was to acknowledge the value to remember or learn. May be the names will change as I get a better insight of what are the outcomes.

(I wished to include a frame but Twitter Web Intent don’t like it, hence screen shots).

Since the tool is actually real time I wish to try to extend it to use it as a chat client for twitter. Based on my experience in chat I see some features that would be very pleasant. Updated real time list of participants, last questions, a better retweet optimized for long tweets, mentions and tweets.
How social learning differ from formal learning when we want to retain, review, reinforce what we learned. How do we retain what we learn from social media?

This question came suddenly to me yesterday, may be after the webinar on 70:20:10 from Charles Jenning on Tuesday, after the hangout of Design Thinking Action lab on Wednesday. Learning from a peer, via forums, social networks, learning teams were highlighted in both talks but in a completely different perspective. Connie has also a post about learning from Twitter (we deal here with way #3).

Social Learning is trendy. I will take tweeter chats as an example to deepen this question of recall.

This is based on my own my experience from after 6 months of learning from chats. I see it as a series of post based on my own practice. You can see it as a follow-up of “How I Work”. I have this benefit of being able to quickly develop my own tools to invent new ways of working, learning so I think I should share my experience ( #ShowYourWork).

When I conclude a chat I take the time to think:

What did I learn ?

In my opinion, a single idea, a single insight I learned is sufficient to justify my participation. Of course getting to get acquainted to knowledgeable persons is very valuable, participating in chats is also an intelligent way to tweet and enhance one’s visibility on the web but for me chatting is more than that. So when the chat is over I try to spend 2 or 3 more minutes go through my notes and pick a handful of ideas I consider I learned.

Example: the last #innochat, talked about Innovation Champions. It took my several questions until I understood that 1) My understanding of what is an Innovation Champion was wrong. My answers didn’t align, were not congruent with others. Still, I read the pre-readings and innochat cross cut the MOOC I attend #DTActionLab, many common references, terminology. So reading was not enough to get rid of my misunderstanding, being part of the chat forced me to realize I was on the wrong track. Eventually, now my understanding is better.

How did I learn

Participating to chat is an occasion to dig into questions from someone, getting in corners or sides of our own knowledge we wouldn’t explore otherwise. It’s also the occasion to read what others have to say and how they say it. How quickly, how they come to it. Some participants are very articulated, they come with nice answers at once, I’m baffled, it’s like reading a book. Others take more time, more circumvolutions: in a way I prefer because it’s more accessible and you can guess the why, the how they reach it. In both case, it’s possible to approve, comment and sometimes contradict. Contradicting on the same message is a difficult exercise and it leads often to misunderstanding since you are limited to 110 chars ( the hashtag of the chat, the name of the person you mention: remains 110).


last #ragansocial how do you find the voice of the company on social media. It took a few iterations but I was able to collect a few ideas.

As opposed to reading or attending a form course you have the ability to

– participate to the idea or at least to the expression of the idea

– ask, comment and by this way get a feedback if you’re out of the way.

– suggest an extension, a reformulation and get it approved by retweets

All of a sudden it’s over. what do you keep?

On my first chats, I was using KneaverTray (similar to Evernote but much faster, streamlined) to pick some expressions, some ideas. When it’s really to fast I just take a screenshot and I know there is an idea to look for in the picture. After the chat, I group them, read again vaguely because I’m tired of it. So really I was wondering what is the benefit of taking these notes?

In some chat, people add links, reference authors, papers, books. I’m usually fast enough to open the links, do a google search. At the end of the chat, I close all the windows and keep a list of links or my findings. This reference material (5) will be used in steps below.

Later I came out with the transcripts, made automatically. Then the ability to highlight the conversation with color codes. That’s brilliant, it works well and is easy, fast to read. Another benefit since it uses Twitter Intents you can retweet, reply, follow even after the chat ended.

I enhanced again with the ability to annotate. Nice but too long, I would do it for an exceptional chat, extremely dense.

Later I used the “favorite” function in Tweeter to keep track of what I think was especially valuable. But “favorite” is more a way to engage, signaled to the author of the tweet and you can’t cancel it if you did it by error (it’s so fast).

So I went back to keep ideas in my notes. Now I use:

  • Notes, copy, paste of ideas I like. take some effort but it’s brainless. I could arrange KneaverTray to collect the paste buffer automatically to avoid the back and forth between windows (3).
  • Favorite. When something is interesting, that I don’t want to comment, approve, I favorite it. (1)
  • When I approve I would retweet with a +1, +10 or comment. (2)
  • Transcripts. This is automatic, not need to think about it. Transcripts will highlight my response (2), my favorites (1). So it’s easy to reposition in the context.

Now that I write about it I could easily do the same with my notes (3), place them back in the transcript. I would keep my notes in a place and reinject them in the transcript. it’s interesting to keep the notes separately because it’s a small amount and often I had a quick remark for myself.

How do you retain it

In a classical environment, you listen, read, absorb new pieces of information.

  • Listen
  • Understand (first level), make sure you understand all the terms, catched the main ideas properly.
  • Some exercises, like a quiz
  • Extract a subset of a few central ideas, totally depending on you, that will allow you to remember all the others.
  • Take some sides notes, a sketch, a mind map.
  • Apply to some exercise
  • Put in practise on a real case.

In a chat it’s very, very fast. So you will not understand, recollect everything. The good side is that most interesting ideas will be retweeted, echoed, so you’ll have a chance to read them again.

  • The quiz is more or less supplied by the interactions. A new tweet, is it a new idea ? does it confront another, is it congruent ?
  • The subset of idea is already extracted, on the go.
  • The next day I will sort my notes, even unwillingly I will read them again.
  • I wish I had time to keep some ideas on a topic map. On WebIdeaPro the topic map is central, the chat is on the side. It’s very interesting. In the case of twitter chat, I think a simple draft topic map done in 5′ is beneficial.
  • It would be nice to systematically write a brief post on the chat. Not a long article, well written, with plenty of links, references but 10 lines with the main outcomes. I lack this short synthesis. @SamHosemkamp just asked what did we learn from #ragansocial. I have all my extracts ready, I can review them in 10′ but I need to go back in the context, and make sense of it again.

If I’m lucky I will apply some ideas

If Im’ slightly less lucky I will need to apply it and remember that it was addressed during a chat. Will I go and find the corresponding chat? Yes if the topic is visible from the container.

If I’m serious I should return on my notes and read them again every now and then. Come’ on! If I do it for chat, for my reading it’s going to be a huge time spent there.

If I’m efficient I will review my notes and place in Kneaver the main idea, main concepts. Also reference material is usually easier to link and place in the big picture. This will be searchable, reviewable and Kneaver will help me to track what I memorized or not.

If I want to be really smart I introduce this step before writing my post and the post will be automatically extracted from Kneaver (using Kneaver -> WordPress gateway).

This means that to retain from social learning I would use a tactic very similar to formal learning.

What is still unclear to me is if there are other options.

What didn’t work for me

Asynchronous chat. It requires too much presence.

I discovered at this occasion that although I think I’m good at multitasking (more exactly sliced tasking: jumping from one compatible thing to another. For example working on 3 different pieces of code is alright), learning and coding is difficult for me. I’m comfortable with twitter while remaining productive under certain conditions. I will write about is also. I like to read a book, messages when I do breaks but I can’t mix learning and creating. Or maybe I didn’t find the proper way to do it yet.