Friday, August 31, 2012

Start Using Twitter to Build Your PLN

How do we as teachers grow professionally?  We do it through in-services at school, conferences, articles, or talking with other teachers.  But who has time to look for articles and books?  What if there were easier ways to enhance our professional growth, and build our PLN (Personal Learning Network)?  There is a way to do it on our own time, and you may not like the answer: Twitter.  Yes, I said Twitter.  I am a “tweeter”.  I am not one of those that tweets that I am at such and such a place, eating such and such, and watching such and such to happen.  Yes, I have done a little of that, but mostly I am tweeting or re-tweeting information that I find interesting or of interest to those that follow me.

It is all in whom you follow; I will list some good ones that I am following at the end of this post.  It is also in the hashtags (#) that you follow, once again; I will list some good ones at the end.  You don’t have to read every single tweet that is on you feed every day, just skimming and stopping on the ones that catch your eye is enough.  I use TweetDeck as an aggregator for my home feed plus some hashtags that I follow as well in multiple columns.  TweetDeck is customizable to what ever you want it to include.  Every so often, I will go and skim through the feeds.  If something quickly catches my eye, I will look at it closer.  If not, I keep on going.  I don’t read every single tweet all the way through.  Even when I didn’t use TweetDeck and used the Twitter site, I just skimmed my feed.   Start by following two or three people and/or hash tags.  You will soon realize that there are people you will want to follow, and others you will not.  If you don’t like the people you are following, you can un-follow them and you won’t receive any more of their tweets in your home feed.

When I tweet, I keep it as short as possible.  I don’t try to type all 140 characters that I am allowed, though you can.  Text messaging language is acceptable as well.  Generally, if it is an original post, it has some sort of link to a site, or a profound thought.  I will also include a hashtag to set to a specific search feed or group that I feel should know about my “tweet”.  This way, it will not only get out to the people that follow me, but those that follow the hashtag.  It is a great way to get information you find out to the masses.

Hashtags are also used for Twitter Chats.  A twitter chat is a set time, usually an hour, for those interested in that topic to tweet answers to questions.  It is basically just like a face-to-face group discussion that is in a very large group.  Generally the chats have a topic that those who are involved can vote on for the chat.  When you tweet to a chat, you put the hashtag at the end so it goes to that chats “log”. A new chat that is starting up on September 5th is #nebedchat at 8PM.  Topics will be different each week, as they are with most chats.

Twitter is not for everyone, but it is a great resource for those who want to build their PLN.  That is teachers, administrators, coaches, and more.  To sign up for a free account go to the Twitter website and follow the directions to sign up.  I would use a personal email and select a “handle” that represents you as a person or teacher.  You can even upload a profile picture if you wish.  It is that simple.

People to follow:
            Teachers – most have good things about technology integration in the classroom.
                        @mrbadura               @NEPublicSchools    @i_teach_history
                        @ShellyMowinkel     @odiep77 – Mine     @Flemtech
                        @mickie_mueller       @CynthiaStogdill      @catlett1
                        @j_allen                      @stumpteacher        @thenerdyteacher
                        @rmbyrne                 @tonyvincent

            Administrators – have good ideas for administrators.
                        @JenBadura              @bmowinkel             @NMHS_Principal

Hashtags to follow:
            #nebedu                    #nebedchat               #iodedapp – iOS app for Education
            #flipclass – flipped classrooms info.            #edtech – Educational Technology
            List of Education #                List of Education Chat #      

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