Building a PLN through twitter – student teachers

Right batter up for PLN Challenge #3 Build your PLN through twitter written by the friendly and always helpful Kathleen Morris.

To recap, a PLN or Personal Learning Network (because educators love our acronyms) has been around forever. In the past they tended to be the friends, family or colleagues you were to for help and guidance. In a university setting that might also include lecturers, mentors or other students. Since the advent of web, our networks have the potential to expand beyond our physical sphere. These days I have friends I’ve never met and some I’ve met through the internet and have an IRL (in real life) connection through. So how do you meet other teachers online?

Enter twitter.

So how do you build your PLN through twitter?


I’ll make no secret that I came to twitter through blogging. After setting up my account and following friends and family, I  started following the tweets of bloggers I enjoyed reading .  So if there’s a blog you enjoy reading follow that blogger because….

Bloggers have friends

I started following the followers of my initial teacher tweeters. If I saw an interesting conversation I’d follow the other tweeter as well. Also if an interesting retweet came out I’d follow that person to which brings me to…

The power of the retweet

Probably one of the easiest ways to build a following on twitter is by having other people retweet your ideas. A retweet is when one person sends one of your tweets to all their followers which means your name is getting out there. But how do you get a retweet?

  • Participate in an #edchat or #ntchat
  • Ask other tweeters for an introduction to their followers. Most tweachers (ha I made a portmanteau) are happy to help newbies out on twitter and before you know it you’ll have a great bunch of followers
But how do you get people to retweet your ideas?

Quality not quantity

Unless you are part of a food community, twitter is not a place to tweet what you are having for dinner. Do think about your audience and purpose when you tweet.


Twitter is not all work and no play

Obviously as a social networking site twitter is in essence a social platform. Respond to other people’s tweets. Retweet ideas.

Twitter feeds are constantly updating and the pace can be quite frantic so…

Think about who you interact with

At first you’ll probably be finding yourself wanting to follow everyone and everybody.  Then once your twitter feed becomes a bit crazy you might tend to be a bit more judicious with who you follow. I tend to interact with are New Zealand/Australian tweeters. Firstly our educational systems are quite similar but more importantly time zones make it hard for us to interact with people who are asleep or are teaching. In general I’ve found Sunday night is a good time to catch a lot of New Zealand-based teachers on twitter, obviously during school hours you’re not going to get much interaction with teachers.

10 thoughts on “Building a PLN through twitter – student teachers

Add yours

  1. Hi,
    thanks for the great post and you are right with choosing who you are interacting with. I live all the way over in Scandinavia but I still find myself following a lot of teachers from Australian and New Zealand. Are you guys better at sharing? Well, maybe it is because I started out at Twitter during the first Teacher Challenge … Time to make some norwegian connections, maybe.

    Best regards,


  2. Hi Anna,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and for your wonderful comment. I think you’re the first Scandinavian teacher I’ve had comment on your blog. I guess twitter’s a bit like any other social forum there are groupings. I’ve followed you on twitter and look forward to interacting and learning from you.


  3. Hi,

    Some great tips here! You’re right, Twitter isn’t all work and no play and the lined between work and play is becoming increasingly blurry for me! Good or bad thing? I’m not sure!

    Like you, I started following the authors of blogs I liked. The main reason I got into Twitter was that all my favourite bloggers were promoting that they were on Twitter. I thought, if they’re all on it, there MUST be something to it! I was right!

    Thanks for the link to my post!



    1. Kath it was a wonderful post! Sometimes there’s a bit too much social in social media, however I think the social part of relationship building that creates enduring links even as the technology and platforms change.


  4. @ Stef – what a nice way of putting it! It’s similar to the fact that schools can invest lots of money into buying tech infrastructure but it is the people who count. Without working on that, the tech goes to waste! I’m still trying to convince some people of that…. 🙂


  5. Interesting re “Probably one of the easiest ways to build a following on twitter is by having other people retweet your ideas:” Never thought about whether this would help increase your following.

    My gut instinct thinks you are more likely to increase your following if other people recommend you as someone to follow, if you actively follow others and engage in conversations.

    Would like to know others thoughts?


    1. I guess for me I tend to follow people who get a lot of retweets or a retweet that I see and then see an interesting blog/twitter feed because I’m a newbie and tend to follow a lot more people.


  6. Following somebody who gets an interesting retweet is a great idea. For some reason I often let those pass me by – I’ll see an interesting idea retweeted, think, “How interesting!” and move on with my day. From now on I’ll try checking out the original tweeter. Thanks for the advice!


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