I was hesitant to use social media for professional growth. I was leery that I would find any benefit because I didn’t know of any other educators that used social media for professional development (PD). The time to set up an account and learn a new platform seemed foolish when everyone was only on Facebook, right? Under the request from a former boss, I was told to start a Twitter account and begin using the platform to promote our department events. I shared my concern that “Twitter is dumb, and no one uses it,” but regardless, I was expected to give it a try.
When I first jumped into Twitter for professional growth, I had very little in my feed because I was only following a few people in my department. After attending some conferences, and researching educators with similar interests, I was able to build a stronger PLN (Professional Learning Network) and grow the quantity and quality of content.
After setting a few goals to maximize my professional development, I found a commitment and intent in using social media was vital and it drastically improved my experience. I’ve listed some strategies below to help you develop your PLN.
1. Set a time commitment
I set a specific number of days during the week to share our department happenings and gain my own personal learning. Setting a realistic amount of time and being consistent with your goal is key to finding the most benefit of a PLN. There will be times when life is hectic and other times with more availability but avoid dropping off of social media for weeks at a time to maintain your connections and growth.
2. Be more than a lurker
The beauty of social media is more than learning from others but sharing your own knowledge as well. Often, people use social media to find new resources, but if only using this platform for this benefit, it’s nothing more than a Google search. I’d recommend asking questions, making recommendations, and sharing your resources with others. Social media requires social interactions, so make sure to be intentional about your collaborations.
3. Find your people
Connecting and collaborating with other educators is more beneficial when you discuss topics of mutual interest. My passion for education is sharing immersive technology in classrooms, so most of my searches involve augmented and virtual reality. As you learn to search for topics, you’ll see common hashtags such as #AR and #VR in posts, therefore making the search more powerful to connect with those individuals.
Having the opportunity to grow through virtual connections in my PLN has supercharged my learning as a professional. I’ve had a chance to start weekly chats with educators, run global events with classrooms around the world and share ideas that impact student learning opportunities. Beyond those benefits, the friendships built in my PLN far outweigh the benefits of my professional growth. I’m grateful for these connections, and I hope that you’ll also consider taking the jump into being a connected educator with me.
Hoonuit just launched a PLN, debuting at ISTE this week, aimed at providing educators an opportunity to collaborate and learn from one another. If you are interested in joining, check it out here: www.hoonuit.com/pln
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