Edublogs Teacher Challenges

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Step 2: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN

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Welcome to the second step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Explain what is Twitter.
  2. Explain the benefits of using Twitter as part of your PLN.
  3. Helps you set up your Twitter account.

MORRISThis following information on Twitter was co-written by Kathleen Morris, a grade two teacher and blogger from Victoria, Australia. Kathleen writes a blog for educators about technology integration, educational blogging and global collaboration.

Intro to Twitter

Most teachers who are using Twitter would probably agree that it is their number one way they build and connect with their PLN.

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you to send out short messages called tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters but can also contain media like photos or videos.

Twitter is a place that you can just lurk, by reading others’ tweets, or contribute to, by sending out your own tweets. Obviously the latter is what you work towards as the more you put in, the more you get out!

One of the great things about Twitter is that it is accessible on your computer, laptop and mobile devices like iPads, iPhones and other smartphones.

Twitter is used by people in nearly every country around the world. For teachers, this means you have access to thousands of teachers around the world with rich backgrounds and experiences that can contribute to your professional growth.

Think you’re not interested in Twitter? Think again!

Twitter is more than just “another social networking tool”. It differs from Facebook in that it isn’t just about reconnecting with people you know or sharing what you’re cooking for dinner; Twitter is about connecting with like minded educators for personalised and ongoing professional development.

There are millions of tweets flying around in the Twittervese 24-7 but the good thing is you can use Twitter as your time and inclination permits!

I like Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s analogy of Twitter being like a river. The river keeps flowing but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look, sometimes you might hang around and dip your toes in, other times you might spend hours swimming around.

Watch this video to learn how Twitter is used effectively in education.

Benefits of using Twitter

I find Twitter to be like a virtual staffroom where I can catch up with my PLN. It is a place where I can find advice, give advice, find great links, share my work and engage in general musings about education.

Want examples?

In this post, Chris Betcher describes what he got out of tweeting for just 10 minutes.

Similarly, in this post Edna Sackson describes what she got out of 30 minutes on Twitter one morning.

Effective teaching and learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum. To be the best teacher you can be, you need a diverse and innovative network. Traditionally, the staff at your school was your only network of teachers to collaborate with. This network may not be diverse or innovative. With Twitter, the barriers of distance and access are broken down and the world is at your fingertips!

Five Steps to Building Your PLN via Twitter

1. Join

To sign up for Twitter, go to twitter.com and create a username. Don’t make your username too long and make it something that identifies you, like your name, rather than a complex nickname.

Compete your bio so people know who you are, and add an image. Personally, I like real photos much better than cartoon avatars. It helps you to build your relationship with your PLN. When you can’t build trust by meeting people face to face, things like bios and photos hold a lot of weight.

Watch this video on how to sign up for your account.

Refer to the Educator’s Ultimate Guide for more detailed step by step instructions on how to set up and use Twitter.

Twitter Guide

2. Follow people

There are thousands of teachers around the world on Twitter, you just have to know where to find them! No ideas? Start with some people from the Edublogs community like @edublogs @suewaters @ronnieburt @tasteach @mgraffin @murcha @mr_avery and me, @kathleen_morris

Once you have a few people to follow, look at who they are following and you will start to build up your PLN.

You can also adopt some Twitter regulars as your mentors and ask them to put a tweet out to encourage their followers to follow you (I am happy to do that, just tweet me – @kathleen_morris)

Watch this video to learn how to follow people.

3. Lurk

You’ll need to spend some time checking out the stream of tweets and getting the hang of tweeting, retweeting, direct messaging and hashtags. Click here for an overview. Many people say Twitter isn’t as intuitive as other web tools but it doesn’t take long for it to make sense.

Most people who use Twitter don’t actually use the Twitter website. There are a lot of more user-friendly Twitter clients out there. Find out more about Twitter clients here.

5. Contribute

Remember, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Don’t be afraid to start replying to people, retweeting tweets, asking questions and striking up conversations. Most teachers on Twitter are very friendly and always happy to help newbies find their feet!

5. Stick with it!

It took me a few attempts to get going with Twitter and I know I’m not the only one! Sticking with it is so important. Make yourself check in to Twitter daily for a month before you make any decisions about whether it is for you.

It takes time to build rapports with people. When you do, you’ll find your professional world will be so enlightened and your students will be better for it!

Your Task

Personal Learning Networks are about sharing, collaborating, and learning from each-other.  Here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation on building your own PLN by undertaking one or more of the following challenges:

  1. Watch Alec Couros’s How to use Twitter effectively in education video and read Mrs Fintelman’s To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Using Twitter to build my PLN post.  Leave a comment on this post to share your ideas on how you might use Twitter to build your PLN.
  2. If you haven’t joined Twitter yet, head over to twitter.com and sign up. Leave a comment on this post with your Twitter name so we can follow you.
  3. Check out this list of nominees from the 2013 Edublog Awards – Best Individual Tweeter. Choose some tweeters who appeal to you to follow.
  4. Write a blog post about your initial impressions of Twitter. You could include – what you see as obstacles to taking part in Twitter, what you have learnt from being on Twitter, or who you have connected with via Twitter. Don’t forget to leave a comment here with the link to your post.

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

128 comments for “Step 2: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN

  1. Sue Waters
    October 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Hi All

    Just a quick comment to let you know I’ve followed all your twitter accounts, Feel free to tweet me @suewaters any time you have any questions, need tips or help.

    Sue Waters
    Support Manager
    Edublogs | CampusPress

  2. Megan
    October 19, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Thank you for the informative and detailed post! I have to say, I learn more even by refreshing the basics – mastery of Twitter is elusive, but you sure do make plenty of friends trying!

    I’d love to connect – my Twitter handle is @MissMEarly – see you there!

  3. Cristina
    October 18, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    you can find me on twitter @techsavvysci

  4. Kelly Onyskiw
    October 16, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I started using twitter more seriously a month ago. I saw Alec Couros at our teacher convention in Saskatoon two years ago. I left convention and bought an ipad that day. Love it. I saw his brother speak at our convention this year in Saskatoon. In my PD group we decided to focus on technology. I decided to try twitter more seriously. I have been doing that for over a month. I love how you can connect and share with so many teachers. If you have a question or problem you tweet it out and answers come back. Amazing. You can see what other teachers are using and try them. It is a wonderful way to connect with teachers and other classes to share and spark learning.

  5. tmayling
    October 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Signed up to Twitter and selected some people or groups to follow. I found a simple, nifty idea for helping students put their punctuation in the correct place. Lots of sifting and scrolling through tweets that aren’t significant. I have posted my initial reactions on my blog: http://thinkit.edublogs.org/2014/10/14/twitter/

  6. Tina
    October 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    No sure yet about the possiblities for Twitter. I am not keen on using huge amounts of time wading through stuff that I have no interest in and don’t understand. Setting up my Twitter account and the ‘suggested’ things that I follow, nearly made me close the computer down! Personally, I dislike the Twitter feed that comes up on some TV progams. I find it annoying and cover it with a piece of cardboard across the bottom of the TV! I have selected a narrow range of people and organisations to follow and will see what happens.

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Tina

      Twitter is really challenging! Perhaps even more challenging than when I started using it in 2007. There are pros and cons with it being talked about so much in the media. It has made everyone aware of twitter but it has probably also made many feel like why would I use it?

      Every educators who uses twitter effectively says the same thing “Twitter has been the most important tool that has helped their teaching practice”. It is worth giving it a chance.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

      • tmayling
        October 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

        Thank you Sue.
        I do intend to give it a chance, I trust the educators that are talking about it know their stuff! Like many people my experiences with Twitter as an outsider have been publicity about celebrity tweets, teen sexting, harrassment and bullying. These are the aspects of Twitter, and other social media, that get attention and exaggeration. So I will cast my bias aside, explore and see what happens!
        Enjoying the course, thank you again for your reply.

        • Sue Waters
          October 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

          Hi Tina

          Great to hear. Media tends to focus on aspects that get the most attention rather than showcasing good things that have been achieved via social media.

          Feel free to send tweets @suewaters if you ever need quick help or assistance.

          Sue Waters
          Support Manager
          Edublogs | CampusPress

  7. Sally
    October 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

    One of my students got me on Twitter in 2009. I didn’t use it much the first year, but it has become one of the most relied-upon resources in my PLN.

  8. Maria-Luisa DeMayo
    October 12, 2014 at 6:15 am

    it’s my first time using twitter..and am excited and nervous at the same time. So after i leave my response i will open an account. It seems as if Twitter is the ‘new pager’ you not only have and are associated with people you know, but with other educators and people who share the same passion and interests as you. I think this challenge will be great in building my PLN and will also broaden my knowledge as it connects you with numerous professionals who are either just beginning or are masters at what they do. It’s a great learning tool to use in the classroom and as a professional development for your district. I’m excited and can’t wait to start my network!

    • Maria-Luisa DeMayo
      October 12, 2014 at 6:30 am

      i forgot to add my twitter name @riademayo.

  9. Aracely de Bech
    October 12, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Hello again … ok .. now I get it :-) but the most difficult thing for me is to know which hastags to use on the tweets I write … I would like to find spanish speaking educators interested on PLN … but also teachers willing to have some sort of “cyber” exchange with my students. We blogg and we will definitely tweet but I want to find authentic readers/listeners and not just other classes at my school or other schools in Sweden … any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
    Oh yeah … 140 sounded “limited” but now ii realize how “real limited” it is :-) … a great way to be specific and consize with what you want to say !

    • October 19, 2014 at 7:15 am

      G’day Aracely,
      A good tweeter to follow with English as a Second Language connections is @ShellTerrell She has thousands of followers and is very well known in educational circles around the world.

      Sue Wyatt
      Mentor: Teacher challenge
      Founder: Student blogging challenge http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org
      Twitter: @tasteach

  10. Aracely de Bech
    October 12, 2014 at 12:34 am

    My first time as a twitter member … still don’t get it :-( but will dedicate time to understand. I just got my tweeter name today @AracelydeBech.

  11. hrowli02
    October 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Hi there….I am trying desperately to gain an understanding how Twitter can benefit my PLN. It seems we are all time poor and I am flat out trying to read the hundreds of emails without having to find a different medium with which to enter thoughts and banter. But I have heard rave reviews how colleagues keep abreast with new tools and ideas ‘out there’…so I am game. I set up my Twitter many years ago but have not yet mastered the art of banter yet. With the help of this platform and a few of my friends I am game. Let the game begin….

  12. Anne Schaefer-Salinas
    October 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I have been on Twitter for 19 months. I began in March of 2013 as a result of attending the Annual CUE conference with a colleague. We made it a goal of ours to learn how to use Twitter by the end of the conference. Well, we succeeded and now we present on the power of Twitter. My handle is @APAnnie7. I consider myself a Twitter-vangelist because through the connections I have made via Twitter, I have improved my practice and have begun to change how we do school on my campus. PD has changed from “sit and git” to a blend of “what you need when you need it” and “ed camp” because of Twitter. We have an Innovation Lab because of Twitter. our faculty are being trained in Design Thinking because of Twitter. How students can earn some of their graduation credits has changed because of Twitter. I could go on. This is powerful stuff and I believe that we are changing for the better because of all the amazing learning I have been able to do thanks to Twitter.

    I wrote a blog post last month on PLNs and Twitter that you can read here: http://goo.gl/CNTtMP

  13. Cyndi
    October 9, 2014 at 8:21 am

    My blog post~ Twitter Love? http://thissideofthird.edublogs.org/?p=247

  14. A. Ribo
    October 9, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Excellent resources and thorough explanation of how to utilize Twitter to build your PLN!

  15. Danna Yeager
    October 9, 2014 at 2:36 am

    I have recently started tweeting. I am amazed at the wealth of information out there. The biggest impact for me is finding all of those educational blogs out there! Twitter has been more relevant as my PD than any I have participated in provided by my school. @dmyeager67 dannayeager.edublogs.org

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Hi Danna

      Twitter is an excellent way to find articles worth reading. I use Flipboard to pull the links that are shared on Twitter into a magazine to read and curate them easier. You may find this approach is helpful. Let me know if you would like more information on how I use Flipboard.

      Sorry to read about the challenges faced trying to use Twitter with your classes. I’ve left a comment on your post with an approach they might feel comfortable with. Sometimes providing information on benefits to students while addressing their concerns can help. Let me know if you need more detailed information on other ways educators are using Twitter to help student.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  16. Lisa
    October 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    My Twitter handle is @MsLRodrigues. I use Twitter to participate in educational chats on topics that interest me- for example Student voice, PBL and Leadership.

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Lisa

      Thanks for sharing how you use Twitter. Which of the hashtags do you follow for Twitter Chats on Student voice, PBL and Leadership?

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

      • Lisa
        October 15, 2014 at 4:31 am

        Hi Sue, the regular chats I attend are #aussieED and #satchatOC. They are ones that generally at a good time for me.

  17. amycottonteach
    October 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Hi,

    My handle is @amycottonteach. I work for the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union and am an English Teacher.

    I’ve had the Twitter account for a while, but haven’t really got the hang of using it. I’m looking forward to using this challenge to get me started. The instructional videos and content above were really helpful. Thanks!

    Amy.

  18. Ms K Kauffman
    October 8, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I share Mrs. Fintelman’s excitement and reservations about using Twitter. I have only been somewhat actively using it for about a year, and I still sometimes struggle trying to find the best hashtags to get the attention of the Twitterers I’d like to connect with. I do love that I can follow some of the ed tech rockstars out there, and I can learn about their successes and try to emulate them. Now this is going to start sounding like a dating profile :) …but I’m a high school librarian in Western PA hoping to connect with other librarians or tech fans on Twitter! Find me @mskkauffman

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 5:20 am

      Hi Ms. K,

      Have you tried directing a message @ someone as opposed to using a hashtag to get their attention? Edchats and trending topics can move so quickly, but writing directly @username will alert them directly of your message.

      Thanks,
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

      • Ms K Kauffman
        October 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

        Hi, Dan,

        Thanks for your comment! I have direct messaged a few people before. As a librarian, I especially get excited when I message authors, and every once in a while they message me back! Very neat! I am going to attempt to participate in my first Twitter chat tonight – looking forward to it.

        Take Care,
        Katie

  19. Dan Gallagher
    October 7, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    My twitter handle is @Gallagher_Tech

    Feel free to follow me. I find Twitter to be an easy way to reach out to others and learn along the way, while as Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach described Twitter being like a river, we float on.

  20. Tami Lenker
    October 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Trying to catch up with the PLN teacher challenge. @tlenker

  21. wendy milne
    October 7, 2014 at 8:29 am

    twitter name @wendymmilne66

  22. wendy milne
    October 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Been on Twitter 6 months or so. Just reviewed some comments and am now following edublogs and some of the best tweeters. Looking forward to learning more about PLNs.
    Wendy

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 5:11 am

      Have you enjoyed your experience on Twitter so far? It seems like most people know within a week if they love it or hate it.

      Welcome to the Teacher Challenge!

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  23. Cyndi
    October 7, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Twitter name @thissideofthird :)

  24. momahony
    October 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Here is my blog about Twitter
    http://momahony.edublogs.org/2014/10/06/twitter

  25. momahony
    October 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Twitter name @megomam
    When I set this up about 4 years ago I couldn’t believe that momahony was taken already – I’m so used to this being an unusual and unique name. Bother! So…meg (who is me) and omam (which is my “code” at school – who knows how it started!)
    Twitter is one of the most valuable tools I have for learning.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Twitter is one of my favorite tools as well. I don’t tweet nearly as often as I should, but I enjoy watching other edchats take place.

      Twitter is a competitive place! You have to snatch up that username quick before someone else gets to it :)

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  26. pedagogics
    October 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    twitter @cteitelman (personal) @ESL13DL (work)

  27. Mrs. Slone
    October 1, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Just blogged about Twitter as my PLN last week! Check it out at bpsticoach.edublogs.org!

    Twitter: TechCoach Slone

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 5:05 am

      Thanks for sharing your post!

      I agree with your comment that unlike the reputation of the teacher’s lounge, the Twitter PLN has a much more positive reputation. I can’t say I ever overheard much professional development happening in the teacher’s lounge. ;)

      Thanks,
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  28. Sue Waters
    September 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Hi All, just a quick comment to let you all know that I’ve followed you from my Twitter account and feel free to send an @suewaters if you need any help using Twitter.

    Sue Waters
    Support Manager
    Edublogs | CampusPress

  29. Becky
    September 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

    twitter name mrsgrasi24

  30. Kaylyn's Group
    September 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

    We are all new to Twitter and PLN’s. We are trying to start developing our PLN. @BrucknerKaylyn, @MrsKDavis3, @KellyannPaul11, @MiliusKim, @Wilkinson14Mrs.

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