From the Principal's Office: 5 Baby-Steps for Using Twitter to Begin a Personal Learning Network

3/6/2013 12:00:00 AM
“Social media has offered us a platform where we can learn from and with the smartest people we ‘meet’ from around the world, whenever we need to or are ready to go.” Scott McLeod & Chris Lehman The School Leader’s Guide to Social Media

Personal Learning Networks existed long before there was an Internet. I am perhaps showing my age, but my first “Personal Learning Network” used very little of the technologies we use now. It basically involved colleagues down the hall, perhaps a teacher or two in other buildings or other schools, and my yearly subscription to the English Journal. That learning network was rounded out by the occasional book title I picked up at the bookstore or at a conference. One summer that “Personal Learning Network” extended to other educators during a two-week participation in the National Writing Project at Appalachian State University. The connections made in those days were primarily face-to-face, through-the-phone, and through print. The quality of my “Personal Learning Network” then was as dependent upon my efforts to make connections then as it is now. Sharing with other teachers was a central part of that networking system too.

Many years later, educators now have at their disposal, the most powerful tools for developing and maintaining professional learning networks in history. Yet, many educators---principals, teachers, and superintendents---have yet to fully utilize these tools. Their “Personal Learning Networks” are globally-atrophied and non-vibrant because they either are afraid of engaging in using these 21st century tools of PLN creation, or they have convinced themselves that it is all a fad and will fade in a few years. While individual tools may come and go, the notion of “connecting with others, instantaneously and globally," is here to stay. Humankind has tasted the fruit of being able to interact with others globally with technology, and will only demand better tools and better ways of doing it.

For those school leaders who have not yet taken the plunge into the 21st century world of social media and “Globally-Vibrant Personal Learning Networks,” here are  baby-steps to get you started today. No need to be afraid. Trust yourself and that natural, inner-thirst for wanting to learn, to guide you in taking your first steps in connecting with other educators globally.

Start by setting up a Twitter account. I realize even saying the word “Twitter” immediately sends some administrators, educators and other school leaders into fits of “near-profanity” and disgust. I can sympathize. After you have dealt with 15 incidents in one day of students and perhaps staff members using Twitter, or Facebook, in a less than acceptable manner, your view of the medium can be just a bit tainted. Still, Twitter, despite its “cutesy and dare I say less-than-dignified sounding name,” is the easiest social media tool to begin using. Besides, mention Facebook to some administrators, and they go into convulsions of disgust, so we won’t stretch it that far. Here are some pointers in getting started with your “Personal Learning Network Development Program” using Twitter.
  • Set up your Twitter account first. I would suggest finding a “Twitter-enthusiast” in your school, because I get there's just about one every school by now. Have them help you set up your account. Perhaps they can even suggest some educators you can begin following.
  • Once your account is set up, begin simple. Respond to a few Tweets-of-Interest. Participate in a “Twitter Chat” such as #edchat, satchat, or #ncadmin. Don’t be afraid to join in and share your thoughts, but keep in mind the 140 character limit. This is actually good: hard to be long-winded when you only have so few words to do it. You can’t hardly show off that complicated vocabulary either. You have to think concisely and be direct. Over time, the more you Tweet, the more you will build what I call your “Twitter-stamina.”
  • Occasionally, share out a “juicy quote” from your professional reading. The really good quotes are the ones others can’t help but reply to.  A “well-tweeted” quote will immediately get others to connect with you. Blast it out! See who responds.
  • You can’t be a “lurker” for the rest of your life. Get out there in cyberspace and share. The currency of Personal Learning Networks are ideas. You have something to contribute, so get off your lurker-cushion and share how your school has solved a particularly thorny issue.
  • Finally, when you hear the “social media horror stories” don’t react with a vow of social-media celibacy. After all, we don’t swear off phones when someone uses them irresponsibly, nor do we take a vow against writing when someone writes a threatening note. Realize that social media is a way to connect with others. Like all media designed for fostering connections, it can be used for good or ill.
As educators we no longer have to be stuck in the stone-age when it comes to developing and maintaining Personal Learning Networks. Every educator---teachers, principals, superintendents, college professors---can have a vibrant, global learning network. It’s time to take your first steps into the 21st century where social media tools make connecting easy.

cross posted at the21stcenturyprincipal.blogspot.com

J. Robinson has decades of experience as a K12 Principal, Teacher, and Technology Advocate. Read more at The 21st Century Principal.

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...