These are my notes from Eric Langhorst‘s presentation “Educators Collaborating Through Twitter – Building Your Personal Learning Network with Social Media” at the Enhancing Teaching & Learning Conference (ETL) on March 3, 2012, hosted by the Kansas City Professional Development Council. Eric teaches 8th grade US History in Liberty, Missouri, at South Valley Jr. High School is an adjunct instructor in the KC area at Park University. Eric is working on his dissertation this year. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

The official session description was:

Social media is a powerful way to build your personal learning network. Teachers are using Twitter to collaborate, share best practices and explore resources. Scheduled weekly “chats” on Twitter are providing an environment in which teachers globally are connecting and discussing specific curriculum topics. Benefits of using Twitter for personal development include no monetary cost, the ability to participate in a variety of formats and mobility. This presentation will include the basics of getting started, suggestions for applications to help you improve the use of Twitter, current examples of teachers using Twitter and methods to help you build a network of educators who share your interests. Participants are encouraged to bring your own laptops, i-Pads, etc. to the session.

Eric’s session resources are available on Eric is @elanghorst on Twitter.

Suggested conference hashtag for today: #etlc2012

What category are you in?
– I use Twitter often and find it a very useful tool
– I have a twitter account but don’t use it much
– I don’t use twitter but am open to learn
– Twitter is a waste of time, other sessions were full

Power of social media is that it is a two way street
– consumer < -> producer
– Internet in the early days was much more a “one way street”

Examples: Arab Spring, recent Netflix price increase backlash

Twitter: social networking site which allows users to share messages, limited to 140 characters at a time
– launched in July 2006, named for the sound a bird makes when chirping

I first thought this would just be about sharing breakfast foods…

Now six years later, my Twitter network is

Around 200 million registered users are on Twitter, 350 million tweets a day, about 100 million people tweet per month
– stats from Nov 2011, Fortune magazine

One assignment I have for my students: Create a tweet for someone on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and write it from their perspective at a critical or important time
– gives students

Fakebook also lets us do that, Twitter for some reason is becoming cooler for students
– Facebook is blocked at our school for students but Twitter is open, so our student use has shifted from where it was 2 years ago (video intro)

Showing examples of Twitter replies and direct messages

– story of @BarbInNebraska sharing @@pixelofink in December

Twitter is like a river:
– the river will flow, with or without you watching it
– you need a way to ‘trap’ to the information that is important to you (think of a lobster trap)
– this is where hashtags come in
– usually specific to an event or theme

'Lobster Traps' photo (c) 2005, JBColorado - license:

When has tags are used the potential audience expands

New to Twitter: I encourage you to be a lurker
– example hashtag I follow and use: #historyteacher

Twitter chats are “a scheduled time at which people go online

Monday 6-7 pm central: #sschat
– 1 in Oregon, 1 on east coast serve as facilitators
– they post the topic in advance
– usually over 100 people are participating
– gives opportunities to find new people to follow also, other history / social studies teachers in my case

Entire chat is archived as a Google Doc each week


I use and like Tweetcaster on my phone
Tweetdeck also good, allows for column organization

Great way to share lesson plans, I get feedback on lessons I’ve shared on my blog in the past

Often I’ll share things we’re doing in class and use a hashtag like #historyteacher
– sometimes other teachers will tweet me a related resource, or ask for a link
– lots of connections respond to these
– this is an example of something I’d never send out every day with email, but with Twitter replies and constant watching isn’t expected…

Check out the follow lists of others

Told story of eReader literacy club he’s doing at his middle school this year with boys

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