When I mention to people that I’m on Twitter most respond “I don’t see the point” or “I don’t get it”. That is when I explain to them that I use it as a Personal Learning Network (PLN). If you set it up right, Twitter is a hotbed of links, resources, thought-provoking questions and statements, and support for educators. If you looked at the list of accounts I follow on Twitter you would see that they are all related to education and technology, this means my feed only (well 99% of the time) contains only items I have interest in (okay maybe I’m not interested in every post, but the chances are high that I will be).
Of course some of you are thinking – I can’t sign up for yet another site. The good news is that you can reap the benefits of Twitter without participating. As an educator we know that participation is a better model, it works without it but is so much better with it. By utilizing the search bar on the twitter site you can find tweets on just about any topic. Even better is to search for hashtags, that is a tag added to the tweet that provides a way to have a conversation. At the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit people tweeted about what was going on using the hashtag #gafesummit This means that if you go to the search bar in twitter and put in #gafesummit (include the # symbol) you will see all the tweets. If you wanted to have students tweet about a novel their reading and have other students (within or outside the school) interact you could have them add a hashtag, e.g. students reading Lord of the Flies would add the hashtag #LOTF to let everyone quickly and easily be a part of the conversation.
There are lots of hashtags you can check out such as
- #ntchat (new teacher chat)
- #edchat (education chat)
- #ncte (national council of teachers of english)
- Here is a page of educational hashtags (include the # when you search in twitter)
Find me on twitter here. Look at who I follow (this is a great way to find new people to follow)
I also use Google+ as a PLN. The great thing about Google+ (and this is similar to Twitter) you can add people to circles and they don’t have to add you back. Being able to organize your contacts is great (so great that Facebook copied this), this allows flexibility, you can have a PLN circle (that’s what I call it), a friends circle, family circle, people you’ve met once but don’t really know circle – PEOPLE WILL NOT KNOW WHAT CIRCLE YOU’VE PUT THEM IN!!!!!
The advantages of Google+ are:
- Not limited to 140 characters
- Much easier to follow a conversation
If you don’t have a digital PLN start with Twitter and putz around there. Leave a comment with your tips/tricks/suggestions for follows/hashtags!
- 45 Simple Twitter Tips Everyone Should Know About (edudemic.com)
- Growing Your PLN (teachthrutech.com)
- How do *you* use your PLN? (bloxhammarketing.com)
- What Does Twitter for PD Mean – Thank you Google (dougpete.wordpress.com)
- 1 Year Later- Why Teachers Should Join Twitter…What I have Learned as a Twitter Newbie (adaptivelearnin.wordpress.com)