Professional Learning

How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN

June 7, 2010 Updated December 7, 2012

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?

Inquisitive educators can find 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
8pm ET/5pm PT/7pm CT

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

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

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

Kindergarten Chat #kinderchat
9pm ET/6pm PT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chat for educators teaching in the elementary level #elemchat
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 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!

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


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 to participate in chats. Click the link next to the chats above to preview each chat via

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.

--Betty Ray (@bettyray)

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