Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chat Autopilot: How this whole thing works

I learned an important lesson about how things can unexpectedly go awry this semester, and this summer I'll be documenting my online classes more fully so that someone could take them over if needed (more about that). I also thought I would document here what procedures I've been following for our #OpenTeachingOU chats so that if I were suddenly unavailable, Rob or Stacy or anybody really could carry on: the power of documentation and autopilot!

ADMINS. Stacy, Rob and I are all full admins on this blog. That means any of us can do what we need to do here, and we are also empowered to add other authors/admins. Admins can invite others to be authors and, after the person accepts, an existing admin can also promote that author to admin, so it's very easy to add people as needed based on what that person will be doing at the blog.

LABELS: Labels are the main way people will be navigation this blog, so the labels are important. Here are the main labels:
Date: Most posts are related to a specific chat, so the chat date is a useful label.
Topic: ___. For each new chat topic, there is a new label reflecting the topic.
Chat Archive: These are the posts containing the Storify of each chat.
Chat Planning: These are the posts for planning each chat.

The rest of the steps below are a continuous cycle, so I've just arbitrarily started with what happens AFTER a chat is over.

STORIFY. After a chat is over, I use Storify to create the archive. I just build it with the #OpenTeachingOU and #OpenOK tagged tweets, which means I miss some tweets, but that's the fastest and easiest way to work. I create the text boxes which contain the questions along with the preliminary and follow-up text boxes, and then I drag and drop the tweets into the appropriate space. It's a little tedious, but also fun! When it's done I publish it.

ARCHIVE POST. I create a Chat Archive post at the blog with an embedded Storify plus a link to the actual Storify page. I use the Chat Archive label and the date label.

TWITTER. I tweet the Storify as a tweet of its own. I then tweet the Chat Planning post link as a tweet of its own. I make sure to include the #OpenTeachingOU hashtag in both of these tweets. I do the same at Google+.

THANK YOUS. I use the "reply" feature for the tweets in the Storify to send a thank-you tweet to everyone who participated with a link to the Storify page and a link to the Chat Planning post for next time. I do NOT include the #OpenTeachingOU hashtag in these thank-you tweets so as not to clutter the hashtag stream. I also update the participant list (see below) for new people who joined in.

Gearing up for new chat:

PLANNING POST: I create a Chat Planning post at the blog with information about the next chat. I use the Chat Planning label and the date label. [GoogleDoc has not been getting any use, so I'm not including that link anymore, although it's available if we ever want to use it.]

CHAT PLANNING: QUESTIONS. Based on feedback from people, the list of chat questions evolves; it needs to be finalized the day before the chat happens.

CHAT PLANNING: BACKGROUND. It's good to come up with background posts, links, etc., and by sharing those at Twitter you can publicize the upcoming chat too. I've actually been doing that more at my own blog, but it's totally appropriate to do it at this blog too. If you do that here, you can use the Topic: (whatever) label for those posts, along with the date of the chat.

SIDEBAR TEXT BOX. I update the blog sidebar text box about "Next Chat" to reflect the next chat, with a link to the Planning Post.

PROVOST ANNOUNCEMENT. Robert Kelly has been kind enough to include our chats on the Provost's Events Calendar. There's an online form to fill out. I use this basic format for the announcement:
#OpenTeachingOU Twitter Chat: Title
Where: Online at Twitter; hashtag #OpenTeachingOU
Rob Reynolds (NextThought) and Laura Gibbs (Arts & Sciences) will be hosting a Twitter chat about TITLE on Day, Date, from Start to Stop. Faculty, students, staff: all are welcome to join in. You can see the chat questions, along with archives of #OpenTeachingOU Twitter chats at the website:
Laura Gibbs @OnlineCrsLady

CHAT REMINDER. I'm keeping a running list of here of past chat participants to tweet them reminders the day before the chat:
OU people:
@jstew511 @acroom @MarkMorvant @DrTerriOU @moiraozias @chillphd @KeeganSLW @carl_grant @Sacrobosco2013 @OKCody_
@NextThoughter @_birdwell @xplanarob @slzemke
More Oklahoma:
Friends of the chat:
@ken_bauer @kierancyco @spani3l @CarrieJWatkins @JaeStrickland @peggzbenedict @musakeninda

CHAT PREPARATION. The day before the chat, I pre-write the tweets with the questions and save them in a plain text file, with the times to tweet each question written down. That helps me behave during the chat so I don't forget to post the questions. I also pre-write the tweets with tips on following the chat via the hashtag, a reminder to do Introductions, along with a "Topic for next time" inquiry tweet ready to go.(Plus, just for myself, I also create a text file with the #OpenTeachingOU hashtag repeated 100 times so that I can quickly copy and paste it into every tweet I write during the chat.)

CHAT HAPPENS. Whoo-hoo! I tweet the questions as planned, along with the other administrative type tweets re: following the chat and hashtag, introductions, plus topic for next time discussion-starter.

And that's all... around and around it goes: after the chat is over, see the Storify set above.

I'll double-check this post after the next chat to make sure I haven't left anything out of the process... because, as I learned this semester, we can all use the help of Otto the Auto-Pilot in case of an emergency!

And here's an Airplane click featuring Otto at work:

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