Social media is now more popular than ever.  I have led a few workshops on how to build a PLN with the use of social media.  These sessions have also had low attendance.  It could be that I am a terrible presenter and nobody wants to come to my sessions.  However, that may not be the case because my Weebly, Webtools, and Google Docs sessions are busting at the seams.  My guess is that most people simply do not understand what a PLN is and what it can do for them.

If you are a newbie, then I will go ahead and let you know that PLN stands for personal learning network. You could have a PLN for any topic that you want to learn more about, so it is possible to have more than one.  For example, if I am an educator that teaches history, has a hobby where I collect WWII memorabilia, and my favorite movies are the Star Wars series, then I could actually build a PLN in each area.  I could have one for my job, one for my hobby, and one to connect with other Star Wars fanatics.  How is this possible?

One of the easiest ways to connect with people around the world that have similar interests is Twitter.  I know what you might be thinking, I don’t need one more thing to do or keep up with.  Believe me, I felt that same way when a friend told me about this idea.  I thought great, another social network where people are going to tell me what they had for dinner and when they took their dog for a walk.  Reluctantly, I signed up for a Twitter account.  I didn’t seek out friends or people that I normally connect with on Facebook.  Instead, I followed people that were keynote speakers at recent conferences.  I followed a few eLearning leaders from around the state.

As I would read articles posted by the people I followed, I would begin following the author of the article itself.  Before I knew it, people were following me.  I began exploring hash tags and would read posts from educators within the hash tag.  For example, #edchat or #edtech.  A hashtag is the pound sign followed by a topic.  While watching many of your favorite television shows you may have noticed a hashtag followed by the name of the show in the corner of the screen.  You can now get on Twitter and type in that hashtag and read people’s comments as the show is broadcasting.

There are several places on the web to find good hashtag lists.  I have one on my website for education along with a list of people to follow by subject area.  Also on my website, you can check out a PLN Livebinder created by a colleague of mine.  Here is the link to that page: http://elearningtolife.weebly.com/developing-your-pln.html

The Indiana Department of Education’s eLearning division has #INeLearn.   Each Thursday night from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Central Time there is a Twitter chat that anyone can take part in.  The chats cover a wide range of topics for all educators.

Well, I said all that to say all this.  At the moment I am now following 352 people, I have 273 followers, and I have tweeted 1792 times.  If I can do, then anyone of you could too.  Each day as I open my browser and go to Twitter, I get a plethora of great eLearning articles to read, new webtools to explore, great ideas to use, and advice to follow.  If I have a question about something I can tweet it out and usually someone in my PLN will respond with an answer.  It is an awesome support group that I wish I had access to when I started teaching 21 years ago. 

photo credit: i_aint_got_no_id via photopin cc

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Jeffrey Tron
I graduated from the University of Southern Indiana in 1993. I got my masters degree in education in 1999 from Indiana Wesleyan University. I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Helfrich Park STEM Academy for 17 years. While there, I was the technology coordinator, student council rep, book coordinator, and I ran the announcements on the television studio. I taught reading, English, mathematics, social studies, science, and health in all three grade levels. In the summer of 2010, I worked for the IDOE to help implement the Indiana Science Initiative. I led several workshops around the state helping teachers integrate notebooking and hands-on science kits in their classrooms. During the 2010-2011 school year, I taught fourth grade science at Fairlawn Elementary School. I am currently an eLearning Coach for an elementary school, two middle schools, and a high school. I love technology and I love teaching and helping teachers. Put the two together and you have my dream job. I am very excited about being an eLearning coach and helping others implement technology into their daily instruction.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I love my PLN, but as I said in Tim’s post, the best part is the comraderie and social aspect of my PLN. It is my support network.

    I would like to encourage more teachers to join a Twitter PLN, but the first obstacle to overcome is their negative impression of social media. Those not on Twitter now and using this valuable tool are probably just worried about their vision of social media.

  2. Jeff- this is a great post! I agree with you that many probably do not know what a PLN is. Now, I understand why my sister, who is a principal in Kansas, keeps blowing up my twitter feed with tons hashtags. I must admit, though, I am just now learning the basics if twitter. #alittlelatetothegame

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

  3. I would love to do this… if only there were more hours in the day! When I have extra time I have followed along some on people who I have heard speak this summer (Leslie Fisher! ) but I just can’t seem to find time to get it all done in a day. I need PD on TIME.

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