Thing 4: Twitter, Facebook & Personal Learning Networks

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should you use twitter flowchart
Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth

Topics covered in this lesson*: 

  • Twitter as a professional resource
  • Personal Learning Networks
  • How online communities help make connections

* Remember you don’t have to explore everything in this lesson. Pick what interests you most. 

Many of you are already members of online communities, the most popular these days being Facebook and Twitter. But there are many others out there! Some revolve around personal interests such as knitting, photography and reading. Others are more professional in nature: LinkedInEdWeb, Classroom 2.0 and Global TL: Librarians Without Borders.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” ―J.D. Salinger
– In response: “That’s why they invented Twitter.” – Nicole Nicosia (CoolTools participant – via email)


Some people love online communities, others hate them, some just aren’t sure what to make of it all. Regardless of our personal opinions, online communities are a huge part of the world we live in today. Take a look at this video and see what you think, are any of the facts presented surprising to you?

Socialnomics 2018 on YouTube

It’s pretty clear that social media and online communities are a huge part of our students’ lives. But what about the rest of us? Are you making use of these networks in your professional life? Social media provides wonderful opportunities for making professional connections through online communities and also as a way for connecting with our students, fellow staff members and our communities.

Personal Learning Networks: Social networks can help us connect with other educators in our local communities and around the world. This can provide an amazingly rich source of innovative ideas and support. Stumped with a problem that you can’t solve or need to brainstorm with someone? Maybe someone in your online community has faced this same problem and can share some good ideas. And you can do the same for them. We all have expertise, let’s share it!

Going to a conference & concerned that you don’t know many other people attending? Connect with other attendees ahead of time. It’s a great way to get to know people before a conference or workshop. I’m amazed at the number of online friends who have become friends & valued colleagues as a result of connecting online and then meeting at conferences.

By connecting with other educators, you’ll be building a Personal Learning Network (PLN). These are people  you can share ideas with, learn from and turn to when you need help with something.

Some tips on building a PLN:

Connecting with community: For a classroom, school or school library, having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks is one more way to reach out to your students, parents and community. Use these tools to share news about what’s going on in your library & classrooms, highlight great new resources and student work, hold a book discussion online, ask for feedback on your services, run a trivia contest, provide a weekly list of new titles, answer reference questions and so on. Provide them with information about library services and a way to connect to the library staff in a space that they already use often.

Facebook can be also used to facilitate classroom discussions. Some interesting suggestions in these articles:

Since many schools have limits on what you can officially do with these tools, you’ll need to work within your school guidelines. If you’re eager to set up a Facebook Page for your library or classroom, you might start out by just posting news, but restricting who else can post updates on the page. Or try setting up a Facebook Group for a class discussion. Groups can be kept very locked down and private, or as open as you like. As your school grows more comfortable with the idea, you may be able to do more with it. Just keep pushing the boundaries!


Some examples of online communities in action and some resources to explore.




Twitter is probably the simplest & best place to start connecting with other educators. And if you haven’t yet really figured out how Twitter works, this is your chance!

Hashtags are short keywords that people add to their tweets to flag them as being related to a particular topic. If you’re at a conference, the organizers will likely decide on a hashtag for the conference. That way people can easily follow what’s going on at the conference, just by searching for the hashtag.

Hashtags are also used for informal sharing of information via twitter. Two great hashtags for educators are #tlchat (teacher librarian chat) and #edchat.

And there’s a whole series of hashtags for each grade level and subject areas:  #iteachfirst, #iteachsecond, #iteachmath, #iteachhistory, etc.  For more hashtags, check out The Best 100 Education Hashtags for All Educators on Twitter

The hashtags for our Cool Tools workshop are:  #CoolToolsPD or  #slscooltools!

Some Twitter Tips:

  • It’s ok to lurk for a bit while you get comfortable.
  • Find a friend and practice tweeting with them.
  • You can keep your account private if you like, but others won’t see your tweets unless you let them follow you.
  • Perhaps better to be public and just not tweet anything terribly personal or embarrassing!
  • Share great resources that you find.
  • Share tips and ideas that have made your work easier.
  • Use the retweet option to re-share information that others have tweeted.
  • Watch for questions and offer to help others out.
  • It takes time to build a great community. Give it time, it’s worth it.

Finding people to follow:

  • Check my list of EdTech folks or Joyce Valenza’s list of edtech educators.
  • Start with the Who To Follow search page.
    • Search by name, though you won’t always find people that way.
    • Browse and search by interests.
  • Ask your friends!
  • Watch who other people are talking to and pick some people to follow.
  • People may not follow you back right away. If they have lots of followers, they may not even notice you started following them. To connect with someone, say hello! Thank them for sharing great information. Watch for a chance to help them out or offer an idea.
  • Afraid of being overwhelmed by twitter, these tips will help: How Twitter Can Power Your Professional Learning
  • If you find you’re suddenly following hundreds of people and can’t keep it all straight, use the Lists feature to organize people into groups.



You’ve probably figured out that we’re encouraging you to explore Twitter! And since some of you are veteran tweeters already and some might be just a bit hesitant about joining twitter, we’re offering several options for this lesson.

Option 1: Not ready to join Twitter? Then simply explore instead.

  • Visit the Twitter search page and search for the hashtags: #tlchat, #edchat, #CoolToolsPD and #slscooltools (or any of these hashtags that are of interest)
  • Read through some tweets, taking time to explore some of the resources mentioned.
  • Also identify a few people that are sharing resources you’re interested in.
  • Write your blog post: 
    • Some things to consider
      • Did twitter help you find good information?
      • Interesting people? Anyone you know?
      • How might you use twitter?
      • Are you likely to join twitter in the future?
      • Include or link to your PLN organizer if you like.

Option 2: I’m ready to join!

  • If you feel comfortable just jumping in, then go for it!
  • If you want a short tutorial on how to sign up, review this tutorial from Twitter: Signing up with Twitter.
  • Search for the hashtags tlchat, edchat, #CoolToolsPD and slscooltools (or any of these hashtags that are of interest)
  • Read through the tweets, taking time to explore some of the resources mentioned.
  • Identify a few people that are sharing resources you’re interested in and follow them. Get connected! Follow them.
  • Write your blog post: 
    • Some things to consider
      • Did twitter help you find good information?
      • Interesting people? Anyone you know?
      • How might you use twitter?
      • Include or link to your PLN organizer if you like.

Option 3: Veteran Tweeters


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

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