6 things I learned from the #OzLearn Twitter chat

Twitter bird with speech bubble saying #OzLearnEarly in March I was lucky enough to be a guest on OzLearn Twitter Chat (#OzLearn, @OzLearn).

While I have been Tweeting for a few years now and have lurked on some chat sessions, this was my first time being a guest Tweeter.

There were several things I learned about the chat experience itself and also about the current state of L&D with regard to digital disruption, some of which have given me the impetus to take action and make things happen.

So let’s dive in…

1. The Twitter chat experience

For the non-Tweeters among you, in general, a Twitter chat works like this:

  1. Host specifies a date, time, duration and hashtag for the chat and promotes it.
  2. The guest writes a blog post on a subject agreed with the host. This was mine.
  3. Guest and host devise a list of questions which can be posed during the chat, noting that others may come up on the fly, depending on how the conversation goes.
  4. Blog post is published at least 3-4 days prior to the chat to give participants time to read and consider their views and responses to the content.
  5. Tweeters hop online at specified time and introduce themselves (or lurk, as the case may be…).
  6. Host welcomes participants and starts the chat with some “hellos” and open questioning.
  7. Host poses questions with numbering so that they can be followed, e.g. Q1, to which participants respond with A1 at the start of their tweet.
  8. When replying to another’s comment, use their Twitter handle, e.g. @karenmoloney, so that person knows you are talking to them.
  9. In order for all participants to follow chat, the correct hashtag, e.g. #OzLearn must be added at the end of all tweets.
  10. Host calls and end to the chat, thanks participants and may choose to summarise the chat somewhere like Storify for sharing.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

My experience?

Twitter chats are really full on!

It’s like being at a networking event, standing in the middle of a circle and having 6 people all talking to you at the same time!

I have lurked on a few of these events but I have to say it’s much different when you are involved from the hosting side.

It was quite difficult to monitor the chat on Twitter itself, so part way through I logged into my Hootsuite account and found it much easier there.

I also kept forgetting to add the hashtag so my comments could be followed – doh!

As you can’t edit tweets, the only way to remedy this was to:

  1. copy the text
  2. delete tweet
  3. create new tweet
  4. paste text, add hashtag.

If anyone knows of a quicker way, that would be handy to know for next time please!

After a few of those moments I’d lost my place in the chat again and got a little flustered trying to keep up.

I would recommend copying the hashtag and any other @ mentions you want to include maybe in a Notepad doc or similar, so that you can write your comment and paste in appropriate hashtags and handles as you need them.

Keeping within the 140 characters for some comments was difficult! And running comments over 2-3 tweets would make it hard to follow the thread.  It was a great exercise in “getting to the point” but sometimes I felt that I wasn’t able to adequately get my views across before I’m responding to the next tweet. Or maybe I just talk too much…

So in conclusion:

  • I loved the real-time experience of connecting with different people through the chat.
  • Being a host or guest on a chat is akin to moderating a webinar, so if you can do that successfully, this is just like driving a different vehicle.
  • Having a host who is comfortable running the show, like OzLearn, is crucial to the success of the chat.
  • If you are new to Twitter chats, lurk on a few and practice participating before you agree to be a guest or host your own.
  • Check out social media management tools outside of Twitter (see suggested article link at the end of this post for some ideas) that can help you monitor and respond to chat threads easily.
  • Definitely try it.  There are so many interesting people all over the world in our space that have so much to share. Even though I was talking about something I know about and am passionate about, hearing others’ views helped me see things from a different perspective and that can lead you off in all kinds of directions for your work and learning.

2. Things are the same the world over

I liked that the “Oz”Learn chat attracted tweeters from all over the globe. As well as the expected Aussie contingent, we were talking to people from France, Belgium, USA and UK to mention a few.

Having that real-time experience of talking to people on different time zones, with different perspectives and experiences was great!

And I’ve made some new learning geek friends, which always makes me happy 🙂

The best thing about this global interaction was understanding that we are all – as L&D – facing the same challenges, regardless of location, e.g. stakeholder management, budget restraints, keeping up with emerging trends and technologies – the same issues keep coming up.

So it’s good to know that we, down under, are not experiencing anything super unusual.

And that’s great because it means that there are more people we can collaborate with to work on solutions.

3. Digital Disruption is an opportunity, not a threat. Well, at least we think so…

Most people on the chat see DD as an opportunity to learn new skills, innovate and ride the wave of change.

But is that view representative of the majority in L&D?

The very fact that these people are on a Twitter chat suggests to me that they are just the kind of people to embrace technological change. What about those who don’t even use Twitter yet?

How many L&D professionals feel threatened by the fact that people are now “self-serving” rather than waiting for a talented instructional designer to create their learning experience for them?

I think there will always be a place for different modes of learning as we move through time – no one thing will replace another – but it’s clear that things are moving much faster now and technology is playing a major part in that.

So it’s time to get on the bus.

We just have to get smarter about how we use our instructional design skills to create learning pathways for people through the myriad of learning opportunities they are presented with on a daily basis.

I, for one, can get easily overwhelmed by the amount of interesting online courses, books, articles, webinars, audio books, podcasts, etc., that are available to help me grow personally and professionally.

And I’m in the business of learning.

And I’m a geek.

So what must it be like for the average learner?

I believe a lot of the shift that needs to occur for L&D to embrace digital disruption is in learning to behave more as consultants, trusted advisors and content curators working with a lareg toolkit, as opposed to content pushers working with ADDIE. (Although, I do have a special place in my heart for ADDIE 🙂 )

But that’s a whole series of other blog posts right there…


4. Be part of the team

An interesting idea floated during the chat was that rather than having centralised L&D departments, each department in a business could have their own L&D resource.

Of course, all the L&D resources across the business would benefit from collaboration in order to efficiently and effectively create learning solutions….

…but by having a dedicated learning consultant working with a team – being at the frontline, as it were – they would get to understand the business challenges so much better and so much quicker that they could be more pro-active in implementing learning solutions that are “on the money”.

I think this approach could make for a stronger L&D collective function as we would be able to innovate using ideas being implemented in different teams, rather than all pushing out the same ideas to departments, people and content we don’t really connect with.


Is anyone doing this currently and, if so, what have been your learnings from the experience that you can share with us?

5. What the business needs from L&D now

We definitely need to be talking more to the business.

We need to be taking the stance of Trusted Advisor.

We need a seat at the executive table so we can find out what the business really needs, not what they say they want.

What challenges is the organisation facing as a result of digital disruption in terms of the industry, marketplace, human resources, IT infrastructure, leadership, ways of working, etc., that L&D can assist with?

These are our customers and we need to be finding out what true needs and pain points are in order to add value, stay current and make a difference.

What if we were privy to those boardroom discussions and heard something that gave us an idea for an innovative learning solution we could take away and investigate?

Wouldn’t that be exciting?!

Again – anyone lucky enough to be in this situation? If so, how’s it working out for you?

6. We need to focus on our own development – regularly

One thing we all agreed on is that in L&D – whether your specialty is online, offline or somewhere in the blended space – we generally don’t spend enough time on our own skills and knowledge development.

That’s because it’s often hard to:

  • Find good events and resources in amongst all the online noise
  • Get time to attend events
  • Secure L&D budget to attend events.

But if we don’t start working on ourselves pretty quickly, we will be overtaken by technology and learners who have even less time, patience and budget than ever before!

During the chat, an idea suggested by Mathias Vermeulen (@MathVermeulen – thank you!) was that there should be a regular dedicated day for L&D to retire to their “Batcave” and focus on their own learning in order to lead and support their learning communities.

They say that great minds think alike (tee-hee!) and interestingly, this idea was on our planner already for later this year.  So, in the spirit of “making things happen” – which is my most favourite thing in the world to do – we’re working like busy little beavers to pull the first event forward.

“Immersion” is a virtual summit which will be launching on Friday 3rd June 2016 and continuing bi-monthly thereafter.

Our aim in producing Immersion is that rather than it being just another industry event, it will become a “movement”.

We want to inspire L&D professionals to take time out and focus on their own professional development and we’re going to provide speakers, tools and resources to help.

Click here to find out more >>

We’re so excited 🙂

Start preparing your Batcaves for #LDImmersion…

To finish…

In the meantime I have some actions for you:

  • Check out the Storify summary of the OzLearn Tweet Chat here sfy.co/c0x7A
  • Follow @OzLearn on Twitter (if you don’t already) for details of upcoming chats and to see what others are talking about and sharing between events.
  • Join in #OzLearn Twitter chats, every second Tuesday of the month. Next one is April 12th with the gamification legend Karl Kapp @kkapp – super excited for that!
  • Check out this article on Twitter Chat 101 which as some great tips for participating in and hosting chats, including some great tools to help you keep track of and reply to tweets.
  • Some things to consider for further discussion:
    • Have you taken part in any Twitter chats and would you after reading this?
    • If so, what’s been your experience and what tips can you share?
    • Are there other good L&D chats going on out there?
  • Oh, and don’t forget to hop over and find out more about Immersion

Finally, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to my gracious (and patient!) hosts Con Sotidis and the OzLearn team for having me and to all the participants (live and lurking) for hopping on the session – it was fun!

I look forward to exploring more…

See you in the comments 🙂

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our free community, you can sign up here.

About the Author

Photo of Karen Moloney, Director of The eLearning eXpertsKaren Moloney is the founder and Director of The eLearning eXperts. She has been part of the eLearning industry since training as an instructional designer in the UK in 1992.

Karen started The eLearning eXperts in 2007 to create engaging and effective eLearning solutions for her clients and has built an award-winning business with a reputation for quality and professionalism.

Now, having taken off the vendor hat, Karen’s big hairy audacious goal is to support her peers by creating and sharing resources via this hub to help develop the eLearning eXperts of the future.

Find out more about Karen on LinkedIn