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Twitter remains one of the most powerful resources available for teachers. Where else can you quickly connect with like-minded educators willing to share, connect, and grow on a global scale – all from the comfort of your living room? Whether it’s a great lesson plan idea or the thrill of a Twitter chat, each time I access my feed, I’m amazed by the wealth of information available at my fingertips. And it’s all perfectly packaged and condensed for quick, 140 character absorption. Yet, so many of us jump into Twitter with great intentions only to drown in the firehose of information. Here are five easy ways to help expand your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and harness the power of Twitter.

 

Tweet: Teaching is not a solitary endeavor! #PLN #iTeachDigital #edchat @edvergent  “Teaching is not a solitary endeavor!” 

 

1. Discover #Hashtags

A great way to start building your PLN and cut through the Twitter “noise” is to search by hashtag. Hashtags act as a filter, easily identifying like-minded educators who are sharing relevant content.  Some of my go-to educational hashtags include #edtech, #edchat, #1:1chat, #iTeachDigital, and #elearning. Check out Teach Thought’s Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education for a comprehensive list sure to jumpstart your PLN journey. And be sure to follow  #ISTE17 this summer, the official hashtag of the 2017 ISTE conference! Applauded as the largest educational technology conference of its kind, you can claim a free seat to inspiring keynotes, abundant resource sharing, and innovative discussions without ever leaving your driveway.

 

2. Participate in a Twitter Chat

Many benefits exist to participating in a Twitter chat, as noted by social media strategist Stephanie Hatch Leishman, who identifies the four benefits of joining a chat as “Learning, Networking, Visibility, and Reputation.” A Twitter chat occurs at a designated time and focuses on real-time discussions centered around a particular topic. Utilizing a hashtag (for example, Kentucky has its own Twitter chat the first and third Thursday each month at 8 pm using #KYedchat), they are typically organized by a moderator who posts the questions while participants provide answers and engage in conversations with others involved in the chat.  Each tweet includes the chat hashtag for easy filtering of the discussion. Consider using TweetDeck to better organize your Twitter stream by creating custom columns dedicated to your chats. Curious? Check out Cybraryman’s Twitter Chat page to see the official educational chat schedule and access a myriad of chat resources.   

 

3. Build an Arsenal of #Edtech Rockstars

As you dive deeper into hashtags and chats, there will be a group of educators that consistently rise to the top as it relates to your interests.  Follow these people! Retweet and connect with them! As you explore posted content, begin to curate their information sources, subscribe to any newsletters or blogs they publish, and explore who they follow to grow your circle even more.  Keith O’Neal identified 100 educators to follow from every state and I, along with two other colleagues, were thrilled to represent Edvergent on the Kentucky list!  Explore #eduFollowChallenge to see who made the cut and access each state’s list here.   

 

4. Organize or Attend a Tweetup

A Tweetup is when you take all those great people you’ve met virtually and actually dedicate some face time in a real-life get-together! Tweetups are often scheduled in conjunction with conferences, but anyone can organize a Tweetup if you’re willing to put in the planning and organization.  Send out a general invitation tweet to gather interest and get a feel for location, time, etc.  Consider creating a dedicated hashtag for your Tweetup and encourage retweeting so the message spreads. Networking is a great motivator, but bring added value to your Tweetup by pulling in a relevant speaker, extending a topic you’ve been exploring through a Twitter chat, or share a meal – Tweetups take your PLN to the next level!

 

5. Be Active

Nothing helps grow your Twitter PLN more than consistently connecting with others. Set up notifications to stay on top of your favorite hashtags and rockstars.  Engage in conversations by liking, retweeting, mentioning, and replying to tweets. I love our #iTeachDigital PLN because they represent what can happen when dedicated teachers take practical #edtech ideas they gain at our seminars, apply to their classrooms, and grow through shared experiences.  Being connected isn’t about finding time – it’s about making time. Work smart – it’s great to be spontaneous on social media, but you can also be intentional by scheduling tweets using TweetDeck or HootSuite. 

 

We’d love to be a part of your PLN growth plan this summer.  Connect with us @edvergent and share your ideas for expanding your circle and impacting your classroom through the transformational power of Twitter.

About The Author

Tiffaney Lavoie currently serves as the Director of Instructional Media and Design at Edvergent Learning. An educator with a business background, she has served over 60 school districts in Kentucky as an instructional technology consultant where she developed and delivered professional learning opportunities and partnered with school and district technology rollouts. A former middle school teacher, Tiffaney has a passion for effective technology integration and recognizes the importance of accessible digital tools to support teaching and learning. She has presented on a state, regional, and national level, and values immersive digital learning environments that better equip students to compete in a global society.

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