#b2s 10. Social media accounts – build your PLN

This is part 10 of 13 things to do before the first day of school.

By: Jason Howie

Social media is not only a great way to showcase your student’s work, but also a good way to build a support network or personal learning network (PLN). I would recommend you create at least two accounts, a professional account and a classroom account. If you already use social media, keep that account separate as your personal account. And remember, even if your account is private, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want to show up on the front page of the newspaper!

Professional accounts

Create at least one professional account that you will use for things that don’t pertain to your classroom, or to use to build your PLN. Select a name that conveys your position and sounds professional. MrCollinsTeaches would be a decent name, but CoolDude23 would probably not be. Share your professional accounts on your newsletter and with your students and parents. It’s a great way to be visible and to share links or media that has educational value.

Twitter is very popular with teachers, so I would create your first professional account there. Once you have an account, you will want to start following other teachers. But how do you find others to follow? A good way is to participate in a Twitter chat. A Twitter chat centers around a hashtag, and is scheduled for a specific time. The best way I’ve found to use for Twitter chat is Participate Learning’s chat client. They have an online schedule of chats that you can use to find your chat’s that you think you are interested in. When it’s time to chat, you can visit Participate Learning and sign in with your Twitter handle. More information about Participate Learning’s chat client is available on Eduk8me.

Another source of hashtags is Cybraryman’s Educational Hashtag list. The list is probably the most complete list on the Internet, and also includes a schedule of Twitter chats.

Classroom accounts

For your classes, I’d recommend a separate account for each class you teach. That way you can share the most relevant information for the particular class, without overwhelming students that aren’t in the class. With separate accounts you can also put students in charge of sharing information on the account, without annoying your followers of your professional accounts.

Tying it all together

Once you have your account set up, you’ll want to tie them in to your classroom website or LMS if possible. There are numerous ways to do this, which are too many to mention here. As a start, look at IFTTT.com and TwitterFeed.com.

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