Recently I've become an associate partner in a newly launched European project called APLaNet (Autonomous "Personal Learning Networks" for Language Teachers). The aim of the project is to introduce language teachers to social networking sites and help them build their personal learning networks. You can read more about this exemplary project in the post by Burcu Akyol, one of the coordinators of the project.
I'm a strong supporter of social networks, especially Twitter, and I've already tried to introduce Twitter to newbies many times before - with a disastrous result! I failed every time but once. Now, I don't want to lament about that, but I've been thinking about what I've done wrong.
And I think I might know the reason why my mentees haven't made it further than a couple of introductory tweets. What they needed was a constant, gentle push, which I didn't give, simply because I didn't want to be a bore. I used to tell them that Twitter is what you make it and so I actually let them sail through the twitterverse on their own.
But it's more than obvious that Twitter newbies need someone to hold their hand, someone who will help them cross this huge gap between a beginner's keen interest in Twitter and the world of the PLNs that lies at the other end.
Despite my futile attempts so far, I'm on my mission again and hopefully my mentees will manage to build their PLNs. I'll nudge them to log in to Twitter more often, even if several weeks have passed since their last tweet. I'll help them learn by doing - by tweeting. I'll introduce them to my PLN more frequently and more forcefully. I'll be more than willing to dedicate an hour or two of a lazy Sunday morning to teaching them the basics of Twitter and PLNs. And I'll keep you posted on how we're doing.
In the meantime, you can read more about Personal Learning Networks in this excellent post by Shelly Terrell.