Two social media savants share how to build the right social PLN for your needs

twitter-plnTwitter and Google+ may not have been designed for educators, but every day thousands of teachers, school leaders, and learners of all sizes take to social media to connect, grow, and share in ways that would seem almost impossible a few short years ago. With all the noise, though, it can be tough to know where to begin.

The biggest benefit is that social media helps break down of traditional geography-based professional development and exposes educators to outside ideas, says Thomas Murray (@thomascmurray), a director at the Alliance For Excellent Education, co-founder of Twitter’s #edtechchat, and new author of Leading Professional Learning. “It helps you keep up with the latest trends and hot topics, and it keeps you on the cusp of what education is looking like.”

Recently, Murray and Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), a former director of instructional technology in North Carolina and co-author of The Relevant Educator, shared their best tips for making the most of social sites like Google+ and Twitter to grow and learn in the age of the truly global PLN.

1. Start with what (and who) you know

It’s fine to begin building your network with friends and colleagues, Andserson says, because it will naturally branch out as you get more comfortable. He also recommends starting to build a PLN based on your own passions. If you’re interested in project-based learning, try a #PBLchat; if you’re a tech director, look for others who share your job title. “Don’t feel like you have to go into every community,” Anderson says. “Find one place where you can learn and that will provide the most value to your learning in the shortest amount of time spent.”

Next page: Find any Twitter chat with this handy spreadsheet