The PLN, part 2: Twitter for Teachers

This post is the second in a series about Personal Learning Networks. To read part one, click here.

What is it?

twitter-logoAccording to their “About” page, Twitter is, “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting.” Twitter is a social networking site that can provide different types of experiences depending on what you’re looking for. After you create an account, you select people to follow. As you add people to the list of who you follow, their posts (aka “tweets”) appear in your timeline.

The utility of this all depends on who you follow. Unlike Facebook, you can add people who you do not know. This could include celebrities, news organizations, or just people who post interesting things. It really is up to you to decide what Twitter looks like.

For more info on getting started with Twitter, click here.

Why should I be on Twitter?

The great thing about using Twitter as an educator is that it can be a sort of Reader’s Digest for educational news. We all know every teacher’s #1 excuse to not try something is “I don’t have time.” Once you’ve set it up, it takes very little time. Check here or there, whenever is convenient, and follow up on links or posts that interest you.

Another benefit of Twitter is that you can start a conversation with someone who you may not have the opportunity to meet in real life. I was recently at a conference and tweeted about something a presenter said. He replied, and we had a back and forth dialogue – all while I was waiting for my flight at the airport a few hours later! If you use common courtesy, most people who tweet are happy to engage you.

Who should I follow?

The good news is that there are many great accounts that you can follow that will give you great ideas and resources for teaching. These range from individual educators to organizations. There are tons of lists out on the internet, but here are a few that I follow:

  • Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) – Assistant Superintendant of Burlington (MA) schools. 
  • Justin Reich (@bjfr) – Blogger at EdTechTeacher and EdTechResearcher
  • Gregory Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) – Blogger at EdTechTeacher and former History teacher
  • Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) – Math educator & blogger
  • TCEA (@tcea) – Texas Computer Education Association
  • Bill Gates (@billgates) – Yes, its that Bill Gates, and education is one of the focal points for his foundation
  • Evernote Schools (@evernoteschools) – All about using Evernote in the classroom
  • Michael Fisher (@fisher1000) – Blogger at digigogy.com
  • Barrett Mosbacker – (@bmosbacker) – Superintendant at Briarwood Christian School
  • NASA (@NASA) – you know, the space people
  • David McVicker (@DavidMcVicker) – This guy I know

Should I tweet?

This is really up to you. You may think that you don’t have anything to say, or that no one will care what you do say. But once you start you may be surprised with how many people want to interact with you, or just who finds what you have to say interesting. With that said, it is perfectly acceptable to follow people and read their tweets without ever posting anything yourself.

As a teacher, you should also always consider your audience before you post anything to Twitter. Remember, anyone can read what you post, so make sure its never something you might later regret!

So, do you tweet? Who do you follow? Let us know in the comments!

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