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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN

Betty Ray

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

For many people, Twitter conjures up the worst of the internet: disjointed, meaningless phrases, unrecognizable abbreviations, and endless drivel about where someone's getting their double mocha today.

So, Why Tweet?!?!

For the inquisitive educator, there are some jewels herein that can lead to stimulating discussions, new resources, and an ongoing supportive network. You just have to know where to look.

To that end, here is a list of educationally focused chats that we recommend (listed by day):

Chat for educators teaching 4th grade #4thchat
Mondays
8pm ET/5pm PT/7pm CT

Chat for educators teaching social studies #sschat
Mondays
7pm ET/4pm PT/6pm CT

Chat for music educators #musedchat
Mondays
8pm ET/5pm PT

Chat for ELL educators #ellchat
Mondays
9pm ET/6pm PT

Kindergarten Chat #kinderchat
Mondays
9pm ET/6pm PT

General education chat #edchat
Tuesdays
12 noon ET/ 9am PT
7pm ET/4pm PT

Chat for science educators #scichat
Tuesdays
9pm ET/6pm PT

Chat for new and pre-service teachers #ntchat
Wednesdays
8pm ET/5pm PT

Chat for parents and teachers #ptchat
Wednesdays
9pm ET/6pm PT

Chat for arts educators #artsed
Thursdays
7pm ET/4pm PT

Chat for educators teaching world languages #langchat
Thursdays
8pm ET/5pm PT

Chat for educators teaching in the elementary level #elemchat
Saturdays
5 pm ET(US)/7 am Sunday (Sydney)

Be sure you add the hashtag (#) to each of your tweets to ensure it's included in the chat! And check out this list of popular education hashtags.

Okay, okay, I'll "tweet." How does it work?

Part chat, part short-form blog tool, Twitter operates on the idea that you can "follow" anyone else. Once you're following someone, you'll see their tweets. Likewise, whoever follows you will see your tweets. The more people you follow, the more disjointed and noisy your feed. So choose wisely! Now, to get started...

Set up an account

1) Go to Twitter.com and click Get Started Now. Fill in the fields. Where they ask for your Full Name, we suggest using your real name if you want to use Twitter as a professional networking resource. This way, people can recognize you.

2) Once you've completed the registration process, click Create my account. It will ask you to enter some text to ensure you're not a robot.

Find people to "follow"

3) Now that you've got your account, Twitter will present you with a whole bunch of interesting folks to follow. If you're feeling adventurous, by all means, go through this wizard.

4) Or just keep it simple and start by following some of these recommended folks. Just visit these links and click "follow." You can probably find other names you recognize by clicking on the names on our page, and following them. Don't be afraid to explore!

:: a) Go to Edutopia's main feed

:: b) Follow list of Edutopia staffers

:: c) Follow list of Edutopia bloggers

We recommend that you only follow people who genuinely interest you. You can always un-follow someone, later. (They will never know.)

Listen

5) After you've started following some folks, take some time to listen to what they're saying. Don't be ashamed to ask if you're confused, or an abbreviation doesn't make sense. When you're ready, jump in!

Participate in a chat

6) Note on the listing above that each chat is designated by a word preceded by a #. A hashtag is a unique keyword preceded by a # sign that allows you to focus your discussions on specific topics, like science education or project-based learning.

7) When you participate in a chat using a hashtag, you will be able to see some people whom you are not following. You can certainly choose to follow some of these new folks. This is, in fact, a great way to meet others who share your interests, and thus build up your personal learning network (PLN).

We suggest you use Tweetchat.com to participate in chats. Click the link next to the chats above to preview each chat via Tweetchat.com.

Expanding Your Network

8) Your participation does not have to be limited to chats. As mentioned above, you can begin to grow your network by following people and finding additional hashtags of interest to follow.

Twitter abbreviations

You will see a number of abbreviations used on Twitter. Here are a few of the most common ones:

@username is how you respond to someone else directly.

#topic_name is how you designate a topic for a chat.

RT means Re-tweet, which is someone passing along a Tweet that was generated by someone else.

Twitter is a powerful tool, but it can be a little confusing. Please feel free to ask any questions here. Or, if you're an experienced Twitter user, we'd love for you to weigh in on what's working for you.

--Betty Ray (@EdutopiaBetty)

Comments (33)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

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Truc Dang's picture

Hi Betty Ray! I love you list of education chats. I am very new to the teaching community as well as the blogging community. It is definitely a great tool for growing a professional learning network. I could just soak up all the great resources I've been gathering while just exploring. It is important to me as a new teacher to learn from others as well as share with others real experiences and real problems while learning real solutions that have actually worked. Being a part of a community that allows for teachers to connect with each other because they share the same problems and could potential share the same solution is very helpful and comforting--even just to know that we're not alone.
I've been a little skeptical of tweeter because of the controversy surrounding teachers on social networking sites, especially in the county where I work. There just has to be a clear separation between personal and professional social networking. Now seeing all these wonderful resources that will come in handy, I've been delightfully persuaded into joining tweeter! Thanks

Dr Pearl Lewis's picture
Dr Pearl Lewis
Science education consultant: www.drpearllewis.com

Thanks, Betty Ray. I just followed the link to the science educator chat page (#scichat) - I had no idea this chat platform was available via Twitter. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.

Kayla Trueblood's picture

Hi! I was wondering if anyone has tried using twitter as a part of an academy/learning community with students? I am a part of the Business Academy on my high school campus and we were kind of throwing around the idea of starting an account so that the kids could "follow" what was going on with the academy and all of the extra curricular events that we're involved with. Is there a way to keep other people out of your tweets--is it safe to use with the students? I've also been a little skeptical, but if it works and the kids are into it, why not give it a shot!? Any info would be great...thanks!

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