Today, social media offers us endless opportunities to expand our Personal Learning Networks and you don’t have to be at home or in the office to be able to do this. You can find about the newest and best developments in education and stay in tune with the latest trends by using your smartphone when you are at the beach, by the pool or even at the airport while you are waiting for your plane. There are many handy web tools and social media platforms that will help you grow your PLN:

  • TWITTER: I personally think it is the best resource for your PLN. I can say that I have learned more from Twitter than all the conferences I have attended.  Joining Twitter enables you to connect with educators all around the world 24/7. It is a great way to connect, share, discover, discuss, and learn about the latest trends in education. This animation by explania is for complete beginners:


Twitter allows you to make your point only in 140 characters but many people include links to blog posts, articles or resources in their tweets. By following hashtags, you can join live Twitter chats on a variety of education topics. Hashtags are a way to sort tweets by topic. As a beginner, you can start by using the hashtag, #nt2t. Then, you can try other popular hashtags like #edchat.

Some people find Twitter confusing. However, once you start using it, you will see that it isn’t confusing at all. You will soon realize its amazing power in contributing to your PD. The video below explains why all teachers should use Twitter:

You can find almost everything you want to learn about Twitter on Cybrary Man’s Twitter page and The Twitteraholic’s Ultimate Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter by Sue Waters. Both of them are great resources for beginners. Teachers and administrators who are already using Twitter can check Twitter as a Professional Development Tool by Teacher’s Tech Lounge.

    • FACEBOOK: Facebook is the social network with the largest number of users, but like many people, I don’t use it for my PLN very often. I mostly use it to connect with my friends. The reason why I post educational articles on Facebook is because I want to share them with my colleagues who are not using Twitter at all or who are not using it actively for PD.  In the video below, Julie Smith explains the different uses of Facebook and Twitter:

If you want to use Facebook for your PLN, you can check out the Facebook in Education page.

  • PINTEREST: There are other popular bookmarking tools like Diigo, but as a “visual” social bookmarking tool, Pinterest is my favorite one. You can group your pins under different virtual boards that you share publicly or keep private for yourself. You can create pinboards to share only with your colleagues, students or parents on Pinterest. You can also browse pinboards created by other people. It is a great way to curate information for people with different learning needs.
  •  GOOGLE PLUS / HANGOUTS: Google+ is the fastest growing new social network which offers some great ways to connect and learn with other educators. Besides following friends and colleagues, you can also follow the educational communities. After creating your profile page, you can group the people you are following in different circles. What I like best about Google+ is the feature that allows you to set up hangouts (free group video chats). Check out The Guide to Keeping up with Google and this cheat sheet to get started.
  • BLOGS: Blogging is another social medium that helped me build up my PLN. I have learned many things by reading the posts on Edutopia, Teachthought, Mindshift, Edudemic, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning and many other blogs. Blogging also enables you to exchange ideas and share opinions with other teachers all around the world and find out about current practices happening in their classrooms, some of which you can adapt and use in your classroom. It is also a good way to reflect on what is happening in your classroom or at your school.
  • WIKIS: wiki is a space on the Web where you can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media — and anything else you can think of. Wikis are collaborative websites enabling all registered users to contribute to the content. You can view and even join some exemplary wikis: Virtual Cafe, Minecraft WikiGenius Hour, UDL Tech Toolkit, Digital ID, ICT Magic.
  • PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING COMMUNITIES FOR EDUCATORS: You can join professional networking communities such as The Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0, English Companion Ning, and Edweb to connect with educators all around the world, to join groups and discussions about best practices and problems in education, to share blogs, videos, and  documents. You can also join the webinars these communities offer.

Teachers who want to engage more in personal learning networks to perform and achieve better can check the Teacher Guides by Med Kharbach from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning and The Teacher’s Guides to Technology and Learning by Edudemic. But before reading any of the resources in this post, I recommend you read the blog post on Edutopia Why I am Still Banging My Head Against the Whiteboard by Julie Warren. We are doing the most important job in the world by preparing young minds and hearts for the future. Instead of relying on PD sessions predetermined by others, through the use of social media we can self-direct our PD according to our own unique needs to establish and foster learning environments that will empower all learners. Social media is a great opportunity for us to connect with other educators and experts all around the world to collaborate and learn anywhere, anytime. Please use it!

IMAGE CREDIT: Krissy Venosdale


We all love summer as we can relax and catch up on many things we can’t do during the school year. If you haven’t set up your personal learning network (PLN) so far, it may be the perfect time to do that.

We are living in times when as educators, we should be continually growing and changing. We now know that our students don’t benefit from one-size-fits-all education and we have to transform it. In order to meet the needs of all learners, we have to replace teacher-centered, textbook-based classrooms with learning environments where deeper learning* occurs. The expectations of the 21st century workplaces have also changed. We live in a world where abundant information, some of which is subject to change in time, is accessible everywhere you can find an internet connection. What is valid nowadays is not the information itself, but the skills to process the information effectively and use it to create meaning. Moreover, workplaces need workers who can think critically and creatively to find innovative solutions to challenging problems, who can effectively communicate and collaborate with other workers in local or global teams. Therefore, their education should involve all these skills.


IMAGE CREDIT: Krissy Venosdale

With the help of the new technologies we can help our students internalize all the skills that 21st century education requires instead of having them memorize information for an exam as passive recipients of content and forget everything the next day. Of course it is not easy to make all these radical changes in the way we teach. First, we should learn about the modern pedagogies that will enable our students to be effective communicators, collaborators, thinkers, inquirers, makers, creators and lifelong learners and create learning spaces and environments to address the needs of all learners. We should also learn to integrate the new technologies to be able to reach our learning goals.

Luckily, we are living in a networked society, which enables us to learn from the resources available online, and most importantly from each other. As Med Kharbach says, Educators from different stripes of society find in them new promising ways to connect with others in the other end of the world. What was before strictly limited to local environment is now open-ended and restricted only by users’ choice. Educational affinity spaces, virtual platforms, and communities of practice have mushroomed everywhere online and any teacher from anywhere in the world can join in the conversation and participate in the knowledge building taking place inside these learning hubs. There has never been such abundance of opportunities for teachers’ professional development as it is now. In this context, being a connected educator in the 21st century means being part of a universal community of teachers ready to help you as well as learn from you. No one is as smart as all of us.”



 If you haven’t set up your PLN yet, the infographic below may be helpful:



There are also many resources available online for teachers who want to improve their PLNs. Education is now in a period of tremendous change that requires all of us to stay current with the trends and learning environments. Therefore, learning to create and manage a personal learning network is a necessary skill and an essential tool for teachers in the 21st century. After all, we should model our students as lifelong learners just as we expect it from them. We need to lead by example.

As an English teacher, I would like to finish this post by recommending some online PD websites for English teachers. My Scoopit on Cool Web Tools for ESL, EFL, ELL and MFL learners, which is available on my blog, may also be helpful to teachers who are looking for tech tools. If you know more PD websites for English teachers, please let me know. Have a great summerJ

Pearson Elt 21st Century Learning Series for teachers

Cambridge English Teacher

The Best Places for ESL/EFL/ELL Teachers to Get Online Professional Development by Larry Ferlazzo:

Professional resources for LA Teachers by Web English Teacher

Teacher Development by British Council

English Teaching Forum

ELT Teacher Trainer by John Hughes

Professional Learning for Connected Educators by Powerful Learning Practice

100 talks, sessions & interviews on Harrogate IATEFL 2014 Online by British Council

TeacherCast University by Jeffrey Bradbury:

25 Excellent Professional Development Tools for Teachers by Med Kharbach

* The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “Deeper Learning Defined.” April 2013.




During the last decades technology has caused a lot of changes in our lives socially, politically and economically. What about education? Has education changed right along with the demands of the society?Today, many businesses require workers that can work in small, collaborative groups, which means we should use project-based learning in the classroom that allows students to work in small groups and to apply the academic content they are learning to real life situations. They want us to educate students who can be collaborators, thinkers, and innovators. However, in many classrooms, you can still see students sitting isolated in rows, listening to their teachers lecturing at the board all day.



We all know that we need to get away from teacher-led classrooms and create classrooms that are learner centered to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world and we have a great tool to be able to do that: technology. We all agree that we have to do everything to empower our students for their future. Then, why don’t we integrate it in education since we have the means to make a change in learning so that our students can create, communicate, connect and collaborate to be contributing citizens to their future!


In the video below, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D, discusses his views on the importance of technology in learning and the need to revolutionize education to give kids the skills they need to compete in an increasingly interconnected and digital world.



Teaching with technology does not mean uploading lessons on tablets and giving them to students to use. It has two other important dimensions. Bringing technology to our classrooms will help our students become digitally savvy by using the web 2.0 tools that will enhance their learning and creativity. If we give our students the opportunity to use these tools during the learning process, we will see the very many ways they will help us create students who can think critically, problem solve, and work collaboratively. Today, most jobs require the use of technology, which is another reason why teachers should give students experience working with technology through group projects and classroom assignments to be able to prepare them for the future. We should also consider the fact that we are preparing many of our students for jobs that do not exist yet.


The second important dimension is related to social networking, which has an incredible impact on learning. Students have the capability of learning from each other through the use of social sites, with the supervision and support of their teachers. By enabling them to connect with people around the globe, we will be opening their minds to perspectives and experiences that go far beyond the four walls of the classroom.

As a further step, we can also publish student work for a global audience and have them teach others what they have learned by presenting or sharing their work online. This will help students think about how they can give back to the broader learning community and how this can help shape their future. It will also give the students the opportunity to be assessed by a global audience. They will eventually become self-directed learners through the guidance of their skillful teachers who know when, where and how to use technology to enable this. Therefore, instead of banning the use of many technological devices in the classrooms, school administrations should encourage and train teachers to use them. Please watch the video below showing how one principal made a change in his school and went from being anti-social media to being known as ‘Mr. Twitter’ by his students.



Integrating technology in education has another important dimension from the teachers’ perspective: Networking between schools both nationally and internationally, where educators and administrators can work collaboratively and share educational resources and practices. The concept of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) has become important as teachers and administrators all around the globe can exchange ideas, and share resources with the spread of technology and social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo and many others. Today, educators who have never met before have become connected and Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have a significant role in professional development. They create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge with people they don’t necessarily know. Connected Principals blog is a good example of 21st century collaboration among principals.



We often discuss how teachers find teaching with technology in the classroom, what is difficult and what is easy for them when confronted with tech tools. It also might be worth looking at how our students, digital natives – people very much at home with these technologies – think about education and what is important for them in the digital age. The infographic by MacMillan Education below shows how students go beyond traditional forms of education and how we can apply mobile learning into everyday teaching.

Via: Voxy Blog


Does this mean that technology is the only solution to the problems in education? Of course not! There is no substitute for a skillful teacher in the classroom who effectively plans instruction according to the needs of each learner to actively engage and involve them in the learning process, creating a learning environment allowing the students to communicate and collaborate with others effectively and to be innovative. Technology is a tool that needs to be coupled with effective teaching from educators to enhance the learning process for students. Therefore, we need highly skilled teachers that can creatively use technology in the classroom to create a meaningful 21st century learning environment for students.




I strongly believe that, if used appropriately and meaningfully and combined with effective teaching strategies, digital technology helps learning to be active, engaging, and fun. Therefore, we should all be the facilitators of these opportunities so that our students can learn in a safe and meaningful way and can become connected learners just like us. If we do that, students will not only contribute to their future, but define and lead it as well. In this amazing, rapidly changing era where we can enhance and accelerate learning by integrating technology in education, the schools that understand the importance of education technology and provide their staff and students with training and access to digital learning tools will certainly have a distinct advantage over the others who ban or disregard them.

Credits to Crissy Venosdale


What do you think about teaching with technology and its role in enhancing learning?
How do you manage your PLN? Please let me know.