Growing my PLN with Twitter

Below is a discussion I posted in my brand new group Ning, Rm 21C.  Far from being an expert, my perspective is still that of a “newbie”, where I hope to encourage those who are considering the jump, to jump!

If you’ve arrived at this site, you’re likely sold on the value of collaborating with other educators. Twitter is a tool that can help you grow your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) by following educators who willingly share resources in an ongoing, global conversation about education and technology. Watch the video (2:23 min.) Twitter in Plain English.

Be patient. It takes time to grow your PLN on Twitter. Here’s a collection of good advice I follow:

Set up your profile. Click on setting, the top bar of your twitter page (URL, bio, picture and design). Post a link to your website and/or blog. Differentiate yourself.

  • Try to post, even once, daily. The more you post relevant answers to other people’s questions, and share resources, the more you’ll receive in return.
  • Don’t try to follow a lot of people at once. Read the bio of each tweeter and some of their recent tweets before following them. The more selective you are, the more you will get out of the experience.
  • Block any lurkers you are not comfortable with.

As with any social networking site, Twitter etiquette is important.

One of the most complex features of Twitter for new users to understand is the hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it. Twitter hashtags,like #edcat, help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organize it. Check out the various education hastags available.

I follow my tweets using TweetDeck on my computer and iPhone. It has the ability to show you everything you want to see at once, in an organized column format. It defaults with columns of @Replies and Direct Messages. TweetDeck also allows you to create your own columns, including education hashtags, and individuals you follow by clicking their name at the bottom of a tweet. My current TweetDeck columns consist of All Friends, #edchat, web20classroom, Mentions, Direct Messages, and Facebook: Full News Feed.

Check out Twitter4Teachers to find subject specific teachers and administrators you can follow on Twitter. Mashable has a Twitter guidebook which is quite useful as a reference point.

Initially I thought Twitter would be a drain on my time, but over time, I’ve come to appreciate the value of the community. I am supported by a like-minded group of educators who are generous, willing to take the time to share their resources and links.

Recently I’ve used Twitter in the classroom, loading my TweetDeck on the Smartboard for my students to view. The day after the earthquake in Haiti, someone in my PLN tweeted the names of Haitian journalists able to post on Twitter. My students were astonished as we read first-hand accounts from citizens in Port-au-Prince. My students were astonished and moved. My sons are tweeters. One is currently following @Astro_Nicholas, an American astronaut in space, while my other son is following @MediaOps, a British Army Major posted in Afghanistan.

With Twitter, you and your students will have instant access to information that would take you weeks to find, or that you might miss entirely. Twitter is an integral part of my PLN.

How have you experienced, or hope to experience, the value of Twitter?



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