‘With a little help from my followers’ – Facilitating the #LTHEChat

Chris Rowell –  @Chri5rowell Regent’s University London
Debbie Baff@debbaff Swansea University
Sue Beckingham – @suebecks Sheffield Hallam University
Neil Withnell – @neilwithnell University of Salford
Kate Soper – @KatesSoper Manchester Metropolitan University
Chris Jobling @cpjobling Swansea University
Ian Tindal  @iantindal Anglia Ruskin University

This short paper will share the evaluation of the #LTHEchat and the impact of this on professional development for the organising teams and the chat participants. The twitter chat has shown there is demand to focus conversations on Teaching and Learning (T&L) in Higher Education (HE). The research will include results from a survey and semi-structured interviews, to identify the impact and value gained by active or silent participation, for the organisers and participants. In addition the chats themselves and the learning analytics of the Storify will be monitored and analysed to evaluate asynchronous engagement with archives of live chats.

The #LTHEchat, created by the community for the community, is a collaborative project on T&L in HE via tweetchats.  “A tweetchat is a virtual meeting or gathering on Twitter to discuss a common topic. The chat lasts one hour and has questions to stimulate discussion” (Beckingham 2014). Each week there is a pre-determined topic with guests leading the chat.   

Through #LTHEchat an online community of practice has evolved, including educators with a variety of roles. Drawing upon the literature, Wenger, Traynor and De Laat (2011) discuss five cycles of value creation in networks and communities, suggesting value can be:

  • Immediate: answering/being answered. The #LTHEchat has created synchronous, Twitter activity. The discussion is right when you want it and, when a link is shared to a blog or article, the depth and breadth of shared knowledge increases.
  • Potential: gaining skills/knowledge/connections which we may call upon in future. The #LTHEchat provides a fertile ground for sharing learning experiences and forms collaborative working relationships.
  • Applied: taking something and applying to practice. Every conversation is applied to the HE context.
  • Realised: reflecting on new implementations. The chats allowed for the sharing of reflective practice in an open forum.
  • Reframing: in light of value gained, how does that impact on our view of success. While this is less easy to measure, the #LTHEchat has impacted on practitioners thinking about T&L.

Wenger’s (2002) concept of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ is relevant as the #LTHEchat facilitators ‘bounce’ from the edge to the centre of the community and from live participation to catch-up via the tweets. The #LTHEchat guests join the community in the ‘hotseat’ to develop the conversation which encourages the community to grow (Ultralabs, 2015)

The joining of chats, e.g. #HEAchat and new initiatives such as #HEStudentQ have opened the chats to both staff and students providing new opportunities for informal learning.

This short paper will share some case studies and short vignettes from the research undertaken to highlight how #LTHEchat empowers a community of practice to embrace informal learning and has supported co-learners to take ownership of their continuing professional development. Finally it will provide participants with ideas on how they could develop their tweetchats for informal learning.


Beckingham, S. (2014). Introducing tweetchats using #LTHEchat as an exemplar. http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/introducing-tweet-chats-using-lth-echat-as-an-exemplar Accessed 27th May 2016

Ultralabs (2015) The online communities. https://sites.google.com/site/ultralabprojects/home/talking-heads/communities/presentation Accessed 27th May 2016

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & de Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks : a conceptual framework. Open Universiteit.  http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/11-04-Wenger_Trayner_DeLaat_Value_creation.pdf  Accessed 27th May 2016

Wenger, E., Lave, J. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (2002) Legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. Eds Julia Clarke and Anne Hanson in Supporting Lifelong Learning, Vol. 1: Perspectives on Learning: Learning and Teaching Vol I. London: Routledge