Using Twitter to develop my education PLN has been an interesting experience because I was quite familiar with this platform, but my primary uses have been for marketing, public relations, to spread humor, and for social activism. I was not familiar with Twitter chats at all, nor did I know about Twitter Deck. This new insight into how to use Twitter to continue to build my PLN has been very helpful. It is great to be able to easily connect with others who are as equally passionate and informed as I am about the development of 21st-century intrapersonal and interpersonal skills through early bilingualism. This is something that is a niche within a niche and very hard to find others who are active in this area of education. But in the Twitterverse there seems to be a chat or hashtag for everything! This has given me a glimpse of where I can find a professional community to learn from and join forces with.
I do feel, however, that I may need to have different Twitter accounts for the different ways I use Twitter. Ever since I started using it for education chats, I don't feel as comfortable posting silly GIFs and cartoons just for laughs, or engaging in activism posts that could be seen as political. As an emerging education leader, I feel I need to maintain a certain decorum and neutral professionalism on my Twitter feed. Thus, I had to start a new Twitter account for my other passions, which I plan to engage in anonymously.
A PLN is exactly what I have been missing for the last 15 years of working in almost complete isolation while building and operating an educational camp in Costa Rica and then running and directing and operating a day camp, Spanish immersion classes, and an afterschool programs for many years. Finding my PLN is in great part why I went back to school for a master's degree. Without a PLN of other educators, I feel the risk of becoming stagnant in my learning and feel quite isolated and alone at times. Now that I am building my education PLN, I feel more confident to go into the world and present my education projects for funding and find institutional partnerships.
I truly enjoyed the way the EDL 680 course of SDSU was structured because it included a lot of opportunities for applied learning and engaging through technological platforms that help our work and ideas reach an authentic audience. The focus on creating a PLN by actually going out there and finding chats with other educators and publishing on Twitter helped bridge the divide between the real world and the classroom. I felt less like a student and more like a thinker and leader.
I hope to transfer these lessons to my practice as a teacher and as an education leader. Twitter and some other platforms are not appropriate for all ages, but it can be used with parents, with staff, etc. In particular, I am considering how to use Twitter to create a way for the childcare providers and teachers who take my training courses, to continue communicating with each other, ask questions, and share ideas and encouragement.