How to Use Twitter Chats to Expand Your PLN

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Sometimes it can be difficult for educators to know who to reach out to for help. Whether they ask for advice from a teacher down the hall or try a new strategy they learned at a conference, there are lots of ways to gather information on how to energize lessons and improve their practice. Thanks to social media outlets the personal learning networks or PLNs of teachers are transforming. Twitter is a fantastic resource for educators that can expand their PLN and truly change the way they teach.

Many people mistakenly believe that Twitter is a just a place for celebrity “selfies” and news bulletins. There are thousands of educators on Twitter who are using this platform to learn about trends in education, share what is happening in their classroom, and ask questions of like-minded individuals. Whether they are simply following a select number of education leaders or moderating their own chats, Twitter is helping teachers expand their personal learning network.

To get started, create a free account and do a quick search for some education organizations you already know. Most of these will have a Twitter feed that shares resources for teachers. Scholastic, Edutopia, and PBS Kids are three examples of users to check out. Then start looking at hashtags – these are used to categorize tweets. When you search for a particular hashtag you’ll see who is tweeting about a subject area you are interested. Fore example, #edtech will show tweets about educational technology and #flipclass gives information on the flipped classroom
model. You can follow people who are tweeting about your favorite topics. Here is a long list of hashtags to check out.

As you start diving into Twitter you’ll come across different users who tweet about topics you find interesting. You can retweet or reply to their tweets and even ask questions. Whether you have five or five hundred followers Twitter is also a great place to share interesting things you have found. This might be an article on a new piece of educational technology you’re excited to learn more about or an activity that you did with your students.

At conferences, workshops and professional development sessions more and more teachers are connecting over Twitter. They might comment on something they learned, tweet a question to a guest speaker, or simply search for an event’s hashtag to see what other people are saying. Whether you’re tweeting about the same thing as someone sitting next to you or reading an article tweeted by an educator across the globe, it’s a wonderful platform for expanding your personal learning network.

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com or follow her on Twitter at @ClassTechTips for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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