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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 primary school 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 others can follow you.
  3. Check out this list of finalists from the 2015 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.

212 Comments

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  1. I already have a twitter account and use and check it regularly. It can be very useful and there are drawbacks and unforeseen consequences with this type of technology. So, care has to be taken when using Twitter.

    • Good point, Leon. It’s always wise to think carefully about your interactions online.

      • Kathleen Morris
  2. Professional learning network is a connection of teachers via Twitter.

    • Christopher Mitchell
  3. Twitter has many possibilities to getting connected with others to expand our desire get smarter at what we do or need to do to educate the young and not so young.

    • Norris Brickhouse
  4. I think that twitter will be a great way for me to connect with other art teachers!

    • Julie Crowder
  5. Just joined Twitter
    @lisa_mullens

    • Lisa Jennings
    • Well done, Lisa! I just followed you. I am @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  6. Personally, I don’t care for Twitter, especially after Donald Trump’s obsession with it. I feel like there is now a stigma attached to it and it’s overused. I would rather use a private email that is designed to include my colleagues and administration. I also think it’s a good idea to have a student, teacher email blog to remind students of upcoming assignments and so they can ask questions. That’s just my take on twitter.

    • A PLN is a personal learning network. I really am in favor with being able to keep my students informed of assignments and information not readily available if they have issues or questions pertaining to work outside of the class room.

      • michele drayton
      • I am a middle school teacher that has recently joined twitter. I don’t care too much for it and view it as just something else to keep up with it, in an already
        jam – packed day.

        • michele drayton
        • That’s fair enough, Michele. Twitter certainly isn’t for everyone. Different forms of social media and networking suit different people too!

          • Kathleen Morris
  7. Twitter could help me in many ways. However, I think twitter would provide resources that would help me fine tune my work. As a visual artist, I would be able to provide my students with art making ideas from other artists and art educators as well as opportunities for higher learning. Technology have changed the way we make art. I could network with other like minds for ideas and highlight strategies that have been successful.

    • William Johnson
  8. Twitter will help me assist inexperience JROTC instructors with transitions from battlefield to classroom. LTC William G Johnson@ltcjohnson

    • WIlliam G Johnson
  9. FMOT @ECook_History

  10. I’ve used Twitter in the past when I was homeschooling my kids, but it was very sporadic. I’ve made a few changes to my profile and updated my username. Now, I just need to get more active!! @MrsPThompson

    • Patty Thompson
    • Hi Patty — I found you on Twitter. I’m @kathleen_morris 🙂

      • Kathleen Morris
  11. @katiebaron

  12. I joined twitter a several years ago, but never really got into it. I am always on the look out for information from the Columbia Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project. My plan is to look for a few Columbia educators to follow.

    • Great work getting back into it, Katie. Hope you find a good group of Columbia educators to connect with.

      • Kathleen Morris
  13. @pigamma699…oops forgot to add my Twitter name.

    • Hi Sinclair, I found you on Twitter. I’m @kathleen_morris
      There are some inspiring school administrators on Twitter. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

      • Kathleen Morris
  14. I’d love to use Twitter to gain insights from seasoned school administrators. I am looking to hear successes, challenges and recommendations.

  15. I joined twitter years ago (stargazer2893). I’ve tried several times to give it a go, but the layout is difficult for me to maintain focus. Colors, multiple pictures, scrolling posts, they all lose me in seconds. It’s also why I won’t join Pinterest. Way too busy for my vision to handle. I’m sure it’s great for many people, but I need straight line, black and white background in order to decode what is going on.

    • Shelly Battista
    • Hi Shelly, I understand. It took me a while to get used to Twitter too. Some people liken it to trying to drink from a fire hydrant. To manage Twitter more easily, some people use a tool like Tweetdeck and instead of following everyone, they create lists of a smaller group of people they’d like to interact with. But I certainly understand that not all social media platforms are for everyone and it’s best to figure out what suits you! 🙂

      • Kathleen Morris
  16. I just joined Twitter and my username is mrs_saundra. I plan to use twitter to build my PLN by following other ECE teachers and experts, to look for Professional Development information, and follow political aspects of Educational Reform.

    • Saundra Donahoo
    • Great work, Saundra. I hope you enjoy being a part of the Twitter community!

      • Kathleen Morris
  17. I am a pre-K teacher who recently joined twitter. I am interested in connecting with other educators. I can be found @s_sroberts3prek.

    • Sherrie Roberts
    • Hi Sherrie, if you search on Twitter for a hashtag like #kinderchat you might be able to find some great contacts. Good luck!

      • Kathleen Morris
  18. I just joined twitter. Follow me so that i can grow a PLN. My username is TopCat203. I plan on using twitter to grow a PLN and connect to other like minded porfessionals and educators.

    • Hi Travis, I just followed you and look forward to reading your tweets!

      • Kathleen Morris
  19. I have a twitter account already, but I made a new one specifically for this purpose. Should I be using my normal one or the new one I just made?

    New one: @mattiebennettt

    • Mattie Bennett
    • Hi Mattie,

      You can certainly use your normal one if you’re comfortable using it for education purposes. A few people have a separate one to use for school based things but many educators just have one Twitter account for simplicity.

      I’ll find you on Twitter!

      Kathleen
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  20. @emrier18

    • Hi Emrie,

      Thanks for leaving your Twitter name! I have followed you. Don’t forget to fill out your bio etc when you get time too 🙂

      See you on Twitter,
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  21. I will be the first one to admit that I was not interested in Twitter. Sure we were asked to tweet responses and reactions during staff meetings, but I still failed to see the educational value of it. After reading and watching the videos posted here, I’m interested in learning more. I didn’t know Twitter was capable of so much. I think it is worth looking into.

    • Valerie Sheppard
  22. @dipsydoodle615

  23. I plan on using twitter to connect with other like minded professionals in my school and throughout the world. I plan on tweeting to our librarian who will take our tweets and put them on our school twitter. This idea will help our school feel more connected and it is another way to collaborate.

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig
  24. My twitter handle: @MaryMulderrig

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig
  25. Twitter is an easy way for teachers to be connected when they physically cannot be in the same place at the same time. The use of hashtags can be an awesome way to generate online discussion threads and to share ideas. I hope to use Twitter to participate in collaborative discussions.

  26. @leorising67

  27. 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.

  28. 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
  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.
    @adjaen24

  33. @CarmenThomas97

  34. Twitter Handle: @TakaraBruso

  35. 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.

  36. @callie_angle

  37. @MissMRoth

  38. 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.

  39. 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!

  40. 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

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

    @JannaSlye