Those of us who have spent time using social media to build a personal learning network often talk about the transformative effect it has had on us professionally. We are part of a global staffroom, encouraging and learning from each other, sharing ideas, becoming inspired to look deeper in to what we do and how we do it.
It’s a very natural thing to want our coworkers to become involved in this too. We want them to experience the same inspiring, transformative experience that we have. Yet, we are often met with skepticism and disinterest when we try to explain to others how powerful connected learning is.
My colleague, @susiej18 and I have been trying for a long time now to persuade our colleagues to get involved, but with little success until recently.
The world of Twitter and PLNs is still alien to many, and it takes time to figure out how to use it in a way that is beneficial. Many of our colleagues couldn’t really see the point of it. So, instead of trying yet again to bring them into our online world, we decided to bring our PLN to theirs.
Step 1: A Website
We started by building a professional learning website and blog where we could share some of the great resources and ideas that we have picked up on our Twitter journey. You can check out our website here. We publicise the website at meetings, and post updates on our staff bulletin.
Step 2: Twitter
The second part of our strategy was to create a Twitter account, @CCPSlearning, that we use to publicise updates to the website and share other links and news items we think might be relevant to our staff. Of course, most of our colleagues are not using Twitter, so this could be seen as an exercise in futility, but that’s where the rest of the strategy fits in.
Step 3: Facebook
In addition to the Twitter account, we set up a Facebook page. Our Twitter account automatically posts its updates to Facebook as well. While very few of our colleagues use Twitter, we know that most of them are on Facebook. All they have to do is “Like” our page, to receive our updates. Even if they never log into Twitter or our website, they will at least start to see some of the valuable things that we discover.
Step 5: Workshops
Finally, once all of this was in place, we sought the permission of our principal to run a professional learning workshop for all our staff in which every teacher had to create a Twitter account and follow @CCPSlearning. Surprisingly, this part of the workshop was met with enthusiasm. Many of our colleagues commented that they had been curious about Twitter for sometime, and were happy to have the opportunity to explore it.
That was just over a month ago.
After all that effort and so much energy put into making it accessible, we’ve made just limited progress. We know from our hit counter that only a few of our colleagues actually look at the website, and most, even after the positive feedback from our Twitter workshop, have not sent a single tweet since that day. Of our staff over 30 teachers, only 10 have connected with the Facebook page.
Of course there are some who will never participate, and that’s okay – connected learning is not for everyone.
But there are signs that things are changing.
A small group of colleagues are gradually becoming more and more visible on Twitter. Their eggs have been replaced with photographs. They’ve started sharing links, retweeting others, and even commenting and joining in conversations. Very occasionally they will ‘Like’ an update on the Facebook page, or even post something to our page.
When I think about my own Twitter journey, I realise that it took me over a year before I started using it for professional learning. Perhaps it will be the same for others.
Change takes time.
- 5 Tips for Teachers Getting Started on Twitter
- A Simple Comprehensive Guide on The use of Personal Learning Networks in Education (educatorstechnology.com)
- 1 Year Later- Why Teachers Should Join Twitter…What I have Learned as a Twitter Newbie (adaptivelearnin.wordpress.com)