— Amanda Agnello
Amanda Agnello, a 23-year-old student in an online master’s in teaching program, used a combination of school, Twitter and conferences to build her Personal Learning Network. @psuklinkie is her Twitter handle. “I got active on Twitter and that changed my whole experience,” says Amanda. “I started following the hashtag #ntchat (New Teacher Chat). In my [online] program I felt isolated and a little bit up a tree, but my Twitter PLN [Personal Learning Network] really gave me a lot of support. I was able to bounce ideas off them and get a lot of intellectual recognition—‘That’s such a great idea! wow!’ I kept telling my classmates: get on Twitter and it will change your life!” To get started on Twitter, she said, “I just started following educators. I did #followfriday and “noteworthy Tuesday.” Then I went to an edcamp [an informal conference for educators modeled on Barcamp, which is the same thing for computer programmers]. That got me much more involved with Twitter.” A lot of people, like Amanda, click with Twitter when they start using it during a conference or similar gathering. For me, it was South By Southwest, the big technology conference in Austin, in 2009. Most such events these days have a hashtag (like #educonf2011) where you can follow updates. Tracking the hashtag is a way to keep track of which sessions or parties are most fun. You can follow people whose updates or presentations you like or who you actually meet at the conference. It’s a way to continue the experience of a real-life community. “Meeting the people I was following gave a personal connection to it—I’m working with people that I met in person,” says Amanda. “Twitter’s a door opener.” PLNs in general are door openers. They will pull you into the world of lifelong learning. See HowTo 4: Build Your Personal Learning Network
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