Part II of a 2-Part Post(click here for part I)
Hello? Is Anybody There?
On December 21, I created a Twitter account with my first real tweet being a link to my blog post “Did you Know” which was merely a quick sentence about the video being a great reminder. I didn’t receive any replies; no re-tweets; no direct messages… In fact, I think I heard a faint chirping sound of distant crickets. I quickly realized that there was no one following me, and I was following no one. I decided to spend the mornings of my winter break finding quality educators to follow.
My plan was as follows:
- I began the hunt at my co-worker Susan Sedro’s Blog and clicked through her blogroll, reading as much as I could during those quiet mornings before the world awoke. When I found one’s I liked, I would add them to my Google Reader.
- I would then search the about sections of the blogs to see if the writer was on Twitter, and if so, I began following them (The first few people to follow me back reads like a list of “who’s who in the educational Twtterverse” and includes such great educators as: @langwitches, @rmbyrne, @jenwagner, @coolcatteacher, @kjarrett, @courosa, @betchaboy, and many, many others). If you are new to Twitter, I’d recommend following them.
- After following about 50 or so people, I started looking at who they were following, and who was following them. It felt a little like stalking, but that’s kind of the way things work out at first. I would look at the basic Twitter bio, link to their blog, and scan through their last 20 or so tweets. If they were interesting (ie, tweeting about educational sites, useful practices in the classroom and not what they ate for lunch), I would follow them. I found amazing people like @cybraryman1, @shannonmmiller, @shellterrell, @ktenkely, @AngelaMaiers, @Ginaschreck, @Larryferlazzo, @bjnichols, @web20classroom, @tomwhitby, and many, many more who I learn so much from every day.
- I signed up for The Educator’s PLN and Classroom 2.0 and “met” some great educators (@cspiezio, @GiseldaSantos, @vickyloras) from discussion groups and began to follow them.
- From the beginning, I shared things I came across, re-tweeted interesting tweets and tried to be as lurk-less as possible.
- I “tweeted” people as I wanted to be “tweeted.” I tried to thank people for a follow, reply to all direct messages and tweeted only things that I found interesting and useful.
Not All Addictions Are Bad
So after I reached the 100 follower mark, Twitter started becoming very useful. I began using TweetDeck so that I could stay more up to date on the action. I could send out questions and have them answered, I was gathering and bookmarking tons of new sites and resources that I never would have found BT (Before Twitter), and I found several different educators from around the world willing to embark on collaborative projects with my students. Very exciting!
Other teachers from my school began asking asking why Twitter, and wanting to know more about how I use it to enhance my educational repertoire. The best single answer I could come up with to the question, “Why Twitter?” was, Twitter is like a focused Facebook without all the noise. If you spend time from the beginning following quality people who have something to add, Twitter will become an indispensable resource that you may find yourself asking how you lived without it for so long.
100 Days and Counting
Since 11/11/09 I’ve produced 40 posts, 276 tweets, I follow 562 educators, 396 are following me, and over 20,000 visitors have stopped by my blog. More importantly, I’ve found amazing resources, sites and ideas and have developed an amazing PLN that will continue to help, challenge, and expand my horizons in ways never before possible. I started out with very low expectations (not really the “shoot for the moon” way to go), and wasn’t really expecting to get anything in return for my time spent. When trying something new, I always try to follow the century rule: give anything 100 units (100 pages for a book, 100 days for a new exercise regime, etc) and step back and reflect after that time has passed. I would encourage new users to do the same when building a PLN. It doesn’t happen overnight, but once cultivated, a quality network of professional learners will be an asset to be cherished.
I found the following sites and posts to be über-helpful in building my PLN through Twitter and blogging: