Popular and easy-to-use, Twitter has become a great communication and information sharing tool adopted by students and instructors alike. It is often used to promote awareness of news or events. It is also used to foster interaction, collaboration, and participation in the classroom and overall campus community. But using Twitter isn’t just for your students’ benefit. Instructors can use Twitter to foster their own professional development by developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). The term may sound technical or mysterious, but it really isn’t that daunting. Simply put, a PLN is a group of friends or colleagues that you can refer to for guidance, support, and information. So really, it’s the time-tested classic skill of networking with the added benefit of online tools.
Why Should I Create a PLN?
Take a look at this video, which nicely summarizes what a PLN can do for you.
How Do I Get Started?
Creating your very own PLN is pretty simple. The first step is learning about Twitter and signing up for your very own free Twitter account. The second step is to find people or organizations that interest you on Twitter and follow their activity. To help you with building your PLN, we’ve compiled a list of the top twenty educators and organizations for faculty to follow. Consider this list to be your Twitter PLN starter-kit; just click the links and follow them on your Twitter account.
|@MATC_FIC||MATC Milwaukee’s Faculty Innovation Center posts news, updates, and upcoming events to this Twitter channel.|
|@educause||Paired with the Educause website, this Twitter group is a great source of research articles, podcasts, and best practice guidelines for advancing higher education through the use of information technology.|
|@educationweek||American education’s newspaper and website of record.|
|@Edudemic||This community of educators and technologists ties in with the Edudemic website and is a great resource for developing skills and teaching strategies in the use of social media, mobile tools, and more.|
|@dominele||Follow MATC Information Technology instructor Larry Domine to join conversations about social media, mobile technology, and student centered learning.|
|@ritasimsan||MATC English-as-a-Second-Language instructor Rita Simons Santiago is a great advocate for the use of Web 2.0 tools to not only enhance teaching and learning, but to build diverse PLNs that reach around the world.|
|@tonyatmatc||Tony Stanislawski is an Information Technology instructor at MATC and a self-described all-around Renaissance Man.|
|@nancyrubin||Nancy Rubin is a recognized expert in online and interactive educational programming, social and educational media, and curriculum design. She is one of Twitter’s top twenty most influential tweeters in learning technology.|
|@timbuckteeth||Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor of learning at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom. He serves on the editorial boards of ten international education research journals and is a renowned lecturer with research interests that include e-learning, distance education, and the creative use of Web 2.0 tools.|
|@tomkuhlmann||Author of the Rapid ELearning Blog, Tom Kulmann shares with his Twitter followers practical tips and tricks for building elearning courses. He has over 15 years of experience in the educational training industry and specializes in developing learning communities.|
|@web20classroom||This Twitter feed is managed by Steven W. Anderson, a District Instructional Technologist with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is responsible for helping create #edchat, a weekly Twitter discussion about education that boasts over 500 weekly participants.|
|@ransomtech||Coming from a teaching background of that of an elementary teacher, music teacher, and college professor, Stephen Ransom is a well-rounded resource regarding the use of instructional technologies in education.|
|@coolcatteacher||Full time teacher Vicki Davis is the author of The Cool Cat Teacher blog and is an advocate for engaging today’s students in learning through the power of the Web.|
|@mbteach||Mary Beth Hertz is a K-7 instructor in technology and avid social media user. She is the moderator of the weekly #edchat Twitter discussions and blogs for Edutopia about technology integration at the elementary level.|
|@tucksoon||Nominated as a finalist for Edublog’s 2011 Best Individual Tweeter award, Chinese language instructor Kwan Tuck Soon is passionate about teaching using technology.|
|@tomwhitby||Tom Whitby is an Adjunct Professor of Education at St Joseph’s College in New York. He is the co-creator of the #edchat Twitter discussion and founder of a number of educational groups, such as The Educatorâ€™s PLB on Ning.|
|@dianadell||Diana Dell is an educational technology consultant from Missouri who specializes in finding online educational resources, such as learning games and activities.|
|@grahamstanley||Graham Stanley is an English language teacher and the author of Digital Play, a blog about using computer games and other digital resources for language learning.|
|@CourtneyHanes||Courtney Hanes is a K-12 Literature teacher from Riverside, California who teaches in blended learning environments.|
|@hackeducation||Author of the Hack Education blog, Audrey Watters is a technology journalist, freelance writer, and ed-tech advocate. Her work has been featured on NPR/KQED’s education technology blog MindShift, Inside Higher Ed, ReadWriteWeb, and Edutopia.|
Once you follow someone, take a look at who they are following. This is the best way to find other teaching professionals and organizations that match your interests, as well as new sources of inspiration.