Using Twitter and Other Media to Develop PLN

PLN’s, or Personal Learning Networks, are becoming all the rage in education circles. Well, at least in some circles. PLN’s allow busy educators to customize their own learning and professional development to best fit their needs. It can also be used to create resources for your faculty and staff that they can access anytime to enhance their learning as well.
PLN’s are easy to set up. It takes some work to determine what is the best way for you to utilize them and which ones are best suited for you. But after you get the hang of it, PLN’s are fantastic ways to increase your knowledge base and keep up with educational news and resources.
There are a variety of ways to create your PLN. I use Twitter more than anything else. When you hear “Twitter”, you might think of a social media or micro-blogging site that teenagers use to follow the latest exploits of Justin Beiber or Lebron James, but there is so much more to it than that. Obviously, the first step is to create an account, which is free. From there, it is simple to find people that you can “follow”(you can start with TCMSPrincipal, which is me!). A quick search will provide you with more options of people to follow. You can search for educators, principals, education organizations (ASCD, NASSP, ED) whatever you want. What you end up with is a list of people and organizations that you are following. These people are some of the greatest research engines you could have. They will post ideas and resources, such as news articles, information, lesson plans, all kinds of things. These normally come with a link that you can click on and go right to the source. If you go to that persons or organizations profile, you can see a list of the people they are following. This allows you to increase your “following” list. As your list grows, you can organize the people you follow into groups. I created a group for organizations, one for teachers, one for education and technology leaders, among others. A great tool for tracking your ever increasing Twitter information is a free app called Tweetdeck.  This app allows you to take your groups and organize them into neat columns. This creates a screen that you can simply scan down each column quickly to find articles that interest you.
Another great resource for professional development is a bookmarking site called Delicious. When you spend time on the web looking at articles and reading, do ever wish you had a way to save and organize them? Enter Delicious. After creating a free account, you can then save any website you visit at the click of a button. When you go to save a site, you can tag each article with associated words, such as “instruction” or “technology”. When you go to your Delicious site, you can search your saved articles by these tags. You can also share your saved sites with others. If you want to start your Delicious account, you can start by following me. Just go to https://delicious.com/tcmsprincipal and click the “follow” button.
What are some ways that you are using social media to enhance your learning? If you respond to the question, you have entered into the world of PLN’s!

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
This entry was posted in Professional Development, Social Media, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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