I have been suggesting for some time that I doubted the actual value of the existing approach to edchats. Several of my issues were focused on the choice of Twitter as the microblog platform of choice for these conversations. Specifically, after viewing and sometimes participating in many of these chats, it seemed to me that the 140 character limit of Twitter severely limited what actually was being said. In general, there seemed to be a lack of real substance in conversations. I also found the public nature of what were often one-sided conversations to be annoying. If you are a Twitter user and not participating in a specific chat, what is the value of that flow of partial comments from some of the individuals you follow? This is somewhat like listening to the speaker side of several conversations going on from the self-centered types who feel it appropriate to site in a coffee shop and do business their business. This is just not necessary.
While listing issues with TwitterChats was easy, I have it found it somewhat difficult to offer an alternative that would be practical for educators in K12. I have finally found what I think is an ideal solution to the two issues I mention – the service offers a 500 character limit and it has a private conversation mode. The service is called Mastodon (evidently this is a favorite band of the developers). You can signup very easily and I would recommend moving a chat group to this service for exploration.
Mastodon uses a TweetDeck-like interface. I have highlighted a longer submission (a toot) and the button for setting public or private toots. Simple to use, easy to join, and superior as a platform for conversation.