Most Monday evenings, educators from across the Christian Schools International community join for a Twitter chat. Using the hashtag #CSI4EDU, administrators and teachers from CSI schools utilize a hashtag so folks can follow the conversation. Educators can search for the hashtag to see/read the ongoing conversation, and must include the hashtag in any tweets they write in order for others to see their comments. People can reply directly to a tweet, can mention other people in their tweets, and can re-tweet to their own followers if they think someone posted something worthy of being shared.
“The 140 character minimum is a great way to keep ideas concise and the conversation moving,” said Marita Damghani, CSI’s online education consultant. “To date, topics have included the effect social media has had on teaching, integration of faith into the classroom, the impact of learning spaces on teaching, and the sharing of information on apps and blogs. Between 12 and 30 people might be involved in these chats; it just depends on the night! It’s a number that is growing.”
For those who don’t tweet, or who can’t be tied to a specific timeframe, there is also a Google+ community, Christian School International Educators, a group of CSI administrators and teachers who keep each other informed on new things they have tried, upcoming events, or things they have read.
Tyler Van Schepen of Pella (Iowa) Christian Elementary joined the conversation a few months ago. “I have found one of the most beneficial aspects of being a part of these two online communities is the ability to network and connect with people I otherwise would have likely never made a connection with in my lifetime,” said Van Schepen. "Twitter and Google+ have both allowed for a stronger link of CSI educators across the USA and Canada to be made, and I cannot wait to see where it leads. Having CSI educators connecting with one another through the chats or Google+ as to how difficult topics are addressed within schools allows for more informed and productive changes. What a great use of technology to support each other!”
Although the conversations are tech-driven, not all topics are digital in nature. People have posted devotionals, helpful videos, teaching tips, and posed questions about school and classroom practices. More than 80 people have joined to date. To join, sign into your Google account and click here.
Tyler Amidon, middle school principal and director of student life at Denver (Colorado) Christian Schools, launched the group, beginning with a network of people he had met at Christian education events. After he and Mike Wiersma from Ontario (California) Christian School led a CSI webinar on utilizing social media in the school, they realized how much larger this network could become, so they started the Google+ community. From there they tried the first Twitter chat night, which has become a weekly event.