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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.


Building a Professional Learning Network Using Social Media

Posted on 5/30/2019

Social Media App IconsPhoto by LoboStudioHamburg

Many of us use social media to stay connected to people in our personal lives, but how many of us use social media as a way to build a professional learning network (PLN) and keep learning and growing as educators?

In her article Leveraging Social Media to Build a Digital PLN on the Edutopia blog, Kyleen Gray writes that social media provides an opportunity to expand the reach of our PLN contacts far beyond our physical work environment, across our state, country, and the world. Social media gives us access to the thoughts and resources of colleagues and inspirational educators on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube that even a few short years ago was unimaginable. But how do we get started building this digital resource? Gray gives us some ideas on how to begin in order to receive a continuous stream of valuable information that can inform our own practice:

  • Decide how much interaction you want. Are you interested in making connections with people and building online relationships, or are you happy merely following people to see what they are up to?

  • What kind of learner are you – auditory, text-based, or visual? This might help you determine which social media platform to select (Twitter vs Instagram vs YouTube, for example).

  • Set up a professional account that is separate and distinct from any personal social media accounts. Be mindful about how you identify yourself and what your professional interests are. This will help when it comes to connecting with others who share the same interests.

  • As you get started, pay attention to who and what topics the social media platform is suggesting you follow. There are powerful algorithms running in the background of social media sites that are trying to connect you with like-minded individuals and subjects that you potentially care about.

  • It's ok to lurk in the background while you are figuring out how comfortable you are with interactions with others. A few comments here and there in the beginning, even acknowledging the usefulness of information shared, can help strengthen your connections and lay the foundation for a dynamic PLN down the road.

  • At OTAN, we attend many conferences throughout the year and sometimes have the opportunity to meet our digital connections face-to-face. This is an exciting development in our professional networks, when we get to meet others who provide ideas and inspiration as fellow educators and put faces to names!

OTAN has developed workshops that focus on getting started with social media. Please contact us at or call us at 916-228-2580 to have us help you begin!

Article: Leveraging Social Media to Build a Digital PLN from Edutopia

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.