PLNs–informal learning networks through which people learn via the connections they make–are popular because they let the learner control who they associate with and how much or how little they participate and interact, Holden said.
Educators can begin by joining an interactive community that lets them interact with fellow members, ask questions, and share resources.
On Twitter, teachers can start by searching hashtags to find people to follow. Many hashtags are associated with monthly chats, during which participants discuss topics and add the specific hashtag to the end of a tweet, in order to include that tweet in a hashtag search.
“You need to tweet regularly to build a following,” he said. “If you just get on Twitter and sit there, people aren’t going to be interested in what you have to say, because you’re really not saying anything.”
Tweeting resources, classroom experiences, and questions are all easy ways to accumulate regular tweets. Educators can check out Twitter4Teachers.com for more help.
“This is your way to personally interact with leaders in education,” Holden said.
Holden highlighted 16 educators for new teachers to follow and build their PLNs.
1. Tom Whitby @TomWhitby
Whitby founded #edchat, has authored several books about teaching and learning, and taught middle and high school for 34 years.
2. Dan Brown @DanBrownTeacher
Brown is executive director of the Future Educators Association, is very active on Twitter, and offers great tips for teachers.
3. Karina Barley @karinadawn
Barley is the president of Autism Australia and authored an online course series that teachers educators how to use iPads to engage students who are on the autism spectrum.
4. Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher
Davis maintains the Cool Cat Teacher blog and focuses on using new technologies in the classroom.
5. Gisele Santos @feedtheteacher
Based in Brazil, Santos tweets frequently on project-based learning and the Maker Movement. Santos also focuses on the role of technology and tech tools in education.
6. Jennifer Carey @TeacherJenCarey
As director of educational technology at the Ransom Everglades School in Florida, Carey tweets about expanding PLNs in an effort to integrate technology into the classroom.
7. Mary Beth Hertz @mbteach
Hertz is a technology integration specialist in Philadelphia and has a particular interest in addressing gender gaps in schools, as well as implementing technology at the classroom level. She is an Edcamp Foundation board member and organizer.
8. Todd Whitaker @ToddWhitaker
Whitaker focuses on leadership, teaching, and motivation, and has written more than 30 books. He is a professor at Indiana State University.
9. Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger
Sheninger‘s influence is widely felt in education and on Twitter, and Time Magazine named his Twitter feed one of the best to follow in 2014.
10. Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp
Ripp, a 7th grade teacher, is creator of The Global Read Aloud Project, which encourages students from across the globe to collaborate and interact with one another. Ripp is the co-founder of Edcamp in Madison, Wis.
11. Josh Stumpenhorst @stumpteacher
Stumpenhorst teaches 6th grade language arts and social studies and offers an inspiring and humorous perspective on teaching tips.
12. Scott Newcomb @SNewco
Newcomb specializes in mobile learning, iPad apps, project-based learning, and mobile learning. Newcomb is the author of The Mobile Native.
13. Amy Mayer @friEdtechnology
Based in Texas, Mayer is an instructional technology guru and offers ed-tech advice, educational developments, and job openings.
14. Nicole Bucka @nbucka
Bucka focuses on autism and special education and offers RTI support for secondary schools in Rhode Island.
15. Wendy Kopp @WendyKopp
Kopp is the CEO and co-founder of Teach For All, a global network that aims to expand educational opportunity across the world. Kopp was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010.
16. Jessica Johnson @PrincipalJ
Johnson, an elementary school principal in rural Wisconsin, was named the 2014 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year and moderates the weekly #educoach Twitter chat.