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13 May 2011

Twitter for Teachers: Quick and Easy PLN

Aspiring and current educators frequently ask me how I keep up with the latest in ed tech.  I always reply with the same three things: 1) read and write blogs, 2) join and participate in Twitter, and 3) listen to podcasts.  

In part one of this three-part series, I told you about my favorite education and technology podcasts.  In my second post, I introduced you to some of my favorite ed tech blogs.  Now, I want to share my thoughts on Twitter.



Twitter, as you probably know, is a microblogging site that allows you to post updates of 140 characters or fewer.  Think Facebook status updates without all of clutter of a Facebook page.  Sure, you'll find no shortage of people who post what they had for lunch or quote song lyrics.  Twitter is crowded with idle celebrity gossip and political diatribes.  Still, you choose who to follow and who follows you, so it's easy to avoid the negatives and focus on the positives.  Here are my three favorite uses for Twitter.


Learning
Twitter is a great place to learn.  Since joining Twitter, I've found countless sites to improve my classroom instruction.  I've seen hundreds of resources and blogs that have taught me more than any professional development workshop that I've attended over the years.  My suggestion is to find a few educators to follow, look at their followers, find some you like, follow them, and repeat until your feed is full of outstanding educational resources.  Another good option is to search for hashtags that may give you a list of potential resources to follow.  Here is a list of hashtags that may help.



Sharing
I am a teacher.  I love to share my knowledge with others.  While my blog gives me an outlet for more in-depth discussions, Twitter is a way to quickly and easily share with other educators, whether it's my opinion on a topic, a link to a blog post, a new web tool, or a retweet.  


Connecting
Imagine you're at a conference.  You meet a few people in each session you attend and maybe a few over lunch.  You exchange ideas and business cards and learn what you can from each other in the space of a few hours.  Now imagine that the conference never ends and those few people are thousands.  It becomes a continual networking session where you can meet other like-minded professionals and make lasting professional relationships.


Twitter is an amazing tool, but just as a hammer only works when you swing it, Twitter only works when you use it.  Jump in and participate.  Search hashtags, find people to follow, ask questions, answer questions, learn, and share.  If you do, Twitter will become an invaluable tool.


Here are a few resources that will help you get started on your Twitter journey:
An Educator's Guide to Twitter - Live Binder by Steven Anderson
Twitter 101: Clarifying the Rules for Newbies - Post by Corvida Raven
Seven Posts from Free Technology for Teachers
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