Why We Launched Participate Chats™

(This post was originally published February, 2016)

“Teaching should be a shared enterprise, not an isolated pursuit. Nobody knows teaching like teachers, and in order to move the profession forward, teachers need to learn from each other. When teachers work together and push each other to learn and grow, students reap the benefits.” — Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Participate Learning was founded with the overriding goal of improving student outcomes and equity in education by providing educators with a platform to find the best digital resources, to curate, mash up, and share these resources, and collaborate with others on curation, creation, and sharing best practices. As we’ve continued to develop our platform, we’ve realized that the most vibrant community of teacher collaborators is happening every day on Twitter — in Twitter edchats. There are 50–100 hashtag chats happening each day where educators connect to share resources, share best practices and connect.

But these hashtag chats have significant limitations: they are hard to find; they are hard to track and participate in; and most significantly, it is impossible to take gleaned information (best resources, best practices) and share, mash up and re-use with other educators. That’s why we created Participate Chats ™ — where educators can harness the power of collaboration in Twitter education chats. Since it is deeply integrated with our resource discovery and collection functionality, with one click, users can create and share collections of resources mentioned in these chats:

The Participate Chats functionality automatically scrapes the resources mentioned in Twitter into a re-usable resource list on the left side of the chat window. These resources are available for discovery in the Participate Learning search engine (top of every page), and educators can click on the folder icon to the right of any of the resources automatically listed on the left side to automatically add an individual to a collection (and can create a new collection on the fly). Alternatively, users can click on the ‘Create Collection” or “Create Transcript” buttons on top to automatically choose a time frame and create a collection or transcript:

The collection is automatically created, and educators can move resource order around, add annotations, and invite other educators to collaborate:

After the collection is created, educators can one click invite colleagues to help edit:

And then can have a private conversation about the collection as they work on it:

And of course educators can then share the collection via email, social media, embedding, etc. For the first time, educators can connect in real time and automatically create usable, mashup-able records of those connections for sharing, future collaboration, and discovery. As educators collaborate — their knowledge is automatically ingested into the Participate Learning search engine — making it easily findable (and shareable!) for any other educator.

What do you think?