by Hope Morley
Participating in professional learning communities (PLCs) allows teachers to share ideas, resources, and strategies that support and enhance learning outside of traditional professional development seminars. Previously, we’ve talked about building an effective PLC and how to integrate technology into a PLC. Today, the focus is on four social media tools to explore for personal professional development: Edmodo, Google+ Communities, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Edmodo is an educational website that functions as a social network. Most teachers use Edmodo to communicate with students, but it also is a great space for interacting with other teachers. Think about it, with all those educators in one place, don’t you think they’d start talking to each other?
To get started, check out Edmodo’s list of Teacher PD groups. Search the list to find one that relates to you and request to join. You can also create your own group to connect with teachers within your school, district, or PLN. If you’re looking for advice surrounding a specific device or program, such as ClassDojo, search for the company’s publisher page. Many of them cultivate good communities, or at the very least provide a space to discuss with other teachers.
Google+ Communities are groups built around specific topics and interests. There are Communities for every topic you can think of, including literature, math, science, and more. Community members share information, post comments, and ask and answer questions. A moderator likely reviews all posted content and can take action to address anything that’s irrelevant or inappropriate.
If you have a Gmail or Google Apps account, then joining Google+ is easy (and possibly already done for you). Mashable has a helpful beginner’s guide for Google+ Communities. You can search by subject area, or start with this list of more than 190 education-related Communities.
Pinterest serves as a virtual bulletin board where people can “pin” images and other digital content that they want to save. You can create different Pinterest boards for different topics and follow others’ boards to see what they’re pinning.
Pinterest is a lot more than recipes and ways to repurpose mason jars. It has a very active teacher community sharing lots of great activities and tips. Find educators to follow and search your subject or grade level for new ideas.
An executive at Twitter recently said that educators are an essential part of the network’s base. Anyone who hangs with teachers on Twitter already knew that! Twitter can be a busy place—let hashtags help you sort through all the information. (For those who don’t know, a hashtag is simply a keyword or phrase, no spaces, preceded by the # symbol.) Use hashtags to find educator chats and find people worth following. You can also create your own class or school hashtags (e.g., #leydenpride) to organize tweets and build community. If you feel overwhelmed, try a tool like TweetDeck (my favorite) or Hootsuite to organize hashtags you like into streams.
What social media tools do you use to connect with other educators? Leave a comment to join the discussion.
Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT.