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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.


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  1. One way I would use Twitter is to ask questions or to offer ideas to other educators. Also, it will be interesting to follow a few people that could offer information or valuable tips.

  2. Thank you for making me feel better about not really “getting” Twitter at first. Now, after a few years, I find it’s an incredible resource for great ideas, but it’s often like drinking from the fire hose. I think it would be helpful to me to focus on a few hashtags for a while and form the habit of getting on Twitter regularly. There’s SO much to discover that it can be overwhelming, but it’s worth the feeling for those nuggets of brilliance. @holly_esterline

    • Holly Esterline
    • /
    • /
  3. I’m going to offer a lunch n’ learn Twitter series for my teachers, and this will be a great resource! Thanks for gathering these ideas in one place!

  4. I have gained a lot of knowledge from this video. I have found out that twitter can be very useful when it comes to teaching. Twitter may give individuals great ideas on new classroom ideas of others. I might use twitter as a teacher in a variety of ways. One of the ways is learning new ideas from other teachers to use in my classroom. I may also use twitter by making a post of new classroom ideas I come up with. Before entering this course I did not have a twitter account.

  5. honestly I’ve signed up for twitter like two years ago, and i just feel like it is not for me. i am not one of those people to tweet my every move i get confused on a lot of things trying to deal with twitter. its not as simple as Facebook so i rather not even deal with twitter unless that is the last social media standing.

  6. I absolutely love Twitter. There is so much creativity and any new things to discover when other share what they like. Even though I may lurk a lot on twitter, I’m not a big poster. So I think I will try more to contribute to the action.

  7. @CarmenThomas97

  8. Twitter Handle: @TakaraBruso

  9. I originally opened a Twitter account a few years ago for social reasons and did nothing with it. I followed about 15 others and had about 40 followers. I was (and still am) used to and happy with Facebook, which I was using at the same time. I was then faced with opening an account for a graduate course assignment. I am still not convinced need Twitter because I can follow the same content via Facebook and build a pln that way, which I haven’t gotten too deep into. I am beginning to try to read at least 10 tweets and write my own tweet a night.

  10. @callie_angle

  11. @MissMRoth

  12. I joined twitter to help promote my girls basketball team. Its a great way to gain exposure to your program. I am just now getting into the education side of twitter. I would like to meet other PE teachers to help build a better PE program.

  13. Twitter is firstly a great social media application that allows any individual to keep up with their personal interests and hobbies by following their favorite famous people, and friends. A metaphorical wall must be built to divide personal interest and educational interest when using Twitter, as it can be such a beneficial tool in asking questions, following educators and reading what they have to say and keeping up with the times. You must have a certain amount of followers before you can publish good information, otherwise no one will see it!

  14. I never was interested in joining Twitter, but now I can see how it would be useful to me as an educator.

    • Hi Amy, and thank you for taking part in the Teacher Challenge.

      Please share your twitter handle so we can follow you.

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  15. I will use twitter to connect with other sped teachers. I would like to get involved with more edchats.


  16. I use Twitter for great lesson ideas and to connect with other educators from around the country. I would like to try an edchat this term.