Thursday, October 8, 2015

Using Twitter to Build a Personal Learning Network (PLN)

I tell people all the time- “I promise I don’t work for Twitter”, however I never hide that I have a great love for this social media platform.  Not only can I follow my favorite authors (and celebrities), limit my wordy self to 140 characters, but I have also been able to connect and learn from so many great librarians and educators across the world.  Twitter has provided me the opportunity to build my Personal Learning Network (PLN) in a way that I was never able to do before. If you aren’t on Twitter, perhaps this blog will convince you set up a handle today. If you do have an account, perhaps this post will provide you with some tricks to get the best use and growth from Twitter.

Be a silent learner:  The great thing about Twitter is you don’t have to tweet to learn. For a long time, I had an account, but didn’t interact or tweet at all. Being able to scroll through to get ideas was great for me to start because I wasn’t familiar with the platform. The more familiar I became with it, the more comfortable I felt about sharing. Sign up or get back on Twitter, it is amazing what you can learn in just 10 minutes.

Learn from the best: Last year Scholastic put together a list of the 10 school librarians to follow on Twitter. These 10 colleagues have so much knowledge to share with us. Not only can you find great information from them, but they are consistently retweeting info, news and information from other smart librarians. By following these 10 librarians (plus @mnpslibraries & @sjgham…yes, shameless plug), you are already starting to build a community to learn from.

Hashtag love: Hashtags are one of my favorite things in the world and it is nice on Twitter to be able to share that passion. If I need feedback from other librarians, I always put #tlchat at the end of my tweet. Why you ask- well because #tlchat is followed worldwide by librarians. Our colleagues across the world are consistently checking the hashtag for ideas, discussion and again, to add to their PLN. Hashtags have helped us build a community here in Nashville (#mnpslibhack) and even recruit librarians to come to Nashville to work (#libraryjobs).

PD in your PJ’s: Twitter has also helped facilitate some wonderful educational Twitter Chats. The best part about chats is you can do them on the couch in your PJ’s. The chats go far beyond librarians and there are too many great ones to mention them all, but below are some I would recommend as a starting point. Please know, that I followed many of these chats without participating for over a year. Again, it is ok to be a silent learner (see bullet point one), join when you are ready.
·       #tlchat: This is the school librarian chat held on the second Monday of every month at 7:00 CST.
·       #edchat: General education chat on Tuesdays at 7:00 CST.
·       #txlchat: Texas Librarian Chat is the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 8:00 CST.
·       #mnpslibhack: This is our Nashville chat for our amazing librarians on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 CST. We welcome all!

Twitter is a valuable tool that can make your life easier- we are an amazing profession and can learn so much from one another. Don’t be scared of following others, tweeting and retweeting; by doing that, you will continue to grow and add people to your PLN.

Stephanie Ham
Director, MNPS Library Services

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