Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) are networks meant to connect you with others and expand learning through shared ideas, thoughts, and resources online. PLN’s are important because they give teachers a way to become challenged and strive higher, share what they know, expand on personal knowledge, and gain a support system.
In my ECI 201 class, we focused on the PLN of Twitter. We also had the opportunity to listen to guest speaker and educator, Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra). Mr. Hamstra talked to us about PLN’s, his personal hashtag, and how he uses twitter in the classroom. Mr. Hamstra felt it is important to “hashtag a community around your curriculum,” he did this by creating his own hashtag, #Hashtag180. He created this hashtag because it allows from for himself and his educational community to “share their learning, tell their story, grow their PLN, and ultimately achieve their journey.” Personally, I felt that his presentation left a greater impact on me instead of reading the resources online. He became my proof that growing my PLN as a future educator can be successful and it’s very simple. Mr. Hamstra also encouraged my class to create our own hashtag, and share our educational story, and now I encourage you!Video: More about PLN's
Twitter is known as a micro-blogging site, that allows for individuals to write about whatever they want. Tweets range from posting inspirational quotes, discussions on politics, sports, fashion, to what this blog post is focusing on, education topics! Individuals have the opportunity to follow others that share interests, or those who bring out the best of each others differences. Hashtags are also big in twitter, they are typically short statements that follow along with your tweet. This makes searching for previous posts faster because you can search by hashtag, and begin to engage in communication or to continue learning.
Follow my professional Twitter account @koneill_ncsu
Educational Twitter Topics
A great source of connection and communication in the education world is twitter. Educators have access to sharing ideas, lesson plans, and recognizing educational figures. One way that communication can take place is through Twitter Chats. A twitter chat is “a scheduled organized topical conversation on Twitter centralized around a specific hashtag” (Understanding Twitter Chats). Start by logging into ‘Tweet Deck‘ using your twitter handle, next search the hashtag of the chat of your choosing. When the chat starts, you are able to answer the given questions and incorporate your opinion. The purpose of an education twitter chat is for communication among educators that can freely discuss new and relevant or complicated topics in the education community. I think anyone can benefit from a Twitter Chat whether or not it is your first year teaching or your twenty-fifth. There is always something new we can learn from one another, and Twitter Chats are a great resource to consider when sharing ones opinion.
Sample Topics include:
-Helping 1st Year Teachers
-21st Century Education Chat
-Promote Reading and Literacy
-Common Core State Standards Chat
-Social Studies Teachers Chat
-Aspiring Educational Administrator
-Educational Technology Chat
-Kindergarten and Early Childhood Chat
-Middle School Math Chat
Click the button below for a full list of all upcoming education Twitter Chats.Upcoming Ed Chats
Twitter can be used as a very useful tool to many teachers and students inside the K-12 classroom. Being a multifunctional social media platform, teachers can incorporate twitter into the lesson plan and post using class accounts. Teachers can also post activities and accomplishments presented by their students and have them be viewed by their parents and guardians. This helps to create conversation when the student goes homes since the parents have an idea on the daily learning, they are able to ask questions and engage with their child’s education. Twitter also can be incorporated into many lessons operated by the teacher. This gives students the opportunity to engage on a social media platform for educational purposes, and can also make learning more enjoyable. Here are ‘10 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom‘:
1. Keep up the trends
2. Communication with students and parents
3. Get feedback from students
4. Show off your classroom
5. Get students summarizing
6. Connect with other classes
7. Make Twitter the homework
8. Tweet as a historical figure
9. Write a Twitter haiku
10. Edit tweets, using retweets
Every personal learning network (PLN) comes with risks and responsibilities, just like Twitter. Most importantly it is important to keep your students safe, and your reputation clean. Ensuring safety of students takes the form of not releasing any personal information of your students on twitter, and recognizing their privacy and not posting their faces or full names without permission from parents and guardians. It is also important to be mindful of the content that is exposed to the students from twitter. Make sure as educators you are following safe, appropriate, and positive individuals that will benefit both you and your students. Click here to read an article on the pros and cons of twitter from an educational standpoint.
Before my ECI 201 class, I was unaware of the impact Twitter and PLN’s can have on educators and their students. PLN’s have created many new opportunities for educators to help their students engage and learn online. Twitter, serves as a resource for communication and even a search engine when wanting to receive answers on topics, so finding new lessons. Educators should also try to have an end goal in mind, what are they trying to get out of twitter for the lesson? It can be so easy to get caught up in incorporating the use of PLN’s in a lesson, that our students are not getting anything out of it. Twitter should not be used as a standard social media platform trying to entertain students, without containing educational factors. Educators should include resources that work for their particular classroom, and critique if necessary.
As a future elementary teacher, I can definitely see myself incorporating PLN’s, especially twitter into my classroom. The main purpose I want twitter to serve in my classroom is to communicate with parents and guardians, and gaining more ideas and knowledge for myself. With my students still being a young age, I do not believe a full functioning social media platform should be operating in the classroom. There are many educational alternatives revolving around PLN’s that students can benefit from besides social media. However, we live in an age of communication through technology, and if twitter is the resource that will connect my classroom to their parents, I want to include it. I plan on creating a private classroom account, and only following other educational accounts, and only letting educational accounts plus approved family members of my students follow the account. During activities and lessons, I want to record and take pictures of my students and let them create captions that explain the purpose of the activity and what they got out of it, and tweet it to their family members. It will also be used at my benefit to discover more lessons, and gain support and resources from other elementary teachers. I am choosing to let twitter serve these purposes in my classroom because it keeps from exposing the extended use of a social media platforms to students at such a young age. Educators should include PLN’s in the classroom were it’s used as a resource to benefit educators and their students.