Build A Personal Learning Network on Twitter


  • A Call to Learn

    Lifelong learning is expected of health professionals who need to keep abreast of developments in their field of expertise. It is not the lack but the overwhelming amount of information available which makes doing this difficult.

    Tom Whitby defines a personal learning network as “a tool that uses social media and technology to collect, communicate, collaborate and create with connected colleagues anywhere at any time.” By building a personal learning network on Twitter, health professionals can curate relevant content and filter noise.

    Anya Kamenetz says “Lifelong learning is a must for any career. But in the long run, no one learns alone. We all need people to bounce ideas off, answer questions, and help when we get stuck, and to give you ideas about what to learn next.” Before social media, health professionals did this only at conferences or along hospital hallways. With Twitter, it is now possible to learn from and with others across the globe.

    Learning to use Twitter is easy, but making it useful as a source of relevant information requires planning and persistence. Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter suggests to follow at least 200 interesting people when you start on Twitter. He says if you follow a lesser number, Twitter will likely be boring and you will quit. This course will help you build a personal learning network on Twitter by helping you find and follow those 200 interesting people!

    Who is this course for?

    1. Health professionals considering Twitter for continuing professional development
    2. Students of health-related courses who wish to learn beyond the classroom
    3. Teachers in health professions education who are interested in using Twitter for teaching

    What will you gain?

    1. Each participant will design their personal brand on Twitter.
    2. Participants will have the opportunity to establish and expand their personal learning network on Twitter by starting conversations, joining tweet chats and live tweeting.
    3. Each participant will curate a list of 200 interesting people on Twitter for their area of interest.

    What is special about this course?

    Are you a health professional who already has a Twitter account but feels lost in the stream of tweets? Are you a health professions student who uses Twitter more for personal entertainment? Are you a health professions teacher who thinks Twitter might be useful in class? The course is especially designed for you.

    The learning curve for using Twitter for continuing professional development may be steep. The course is meant to ease the participant into this process through activities designed to provide a structured yet immersive experience on Twitter.

    While there are many Twitter how to’s online, participants in the course will learn by doing. They will benefit from sharing the learning journey with other participants and guidance from the teacher.

    There are many ways to create a personal learning network on Twitter.  Curating a list of 200 interesting people to follow on Twitter for a particular area of interest is useful not only for the participant but for other health professionals who may wish to start building their own personal learning network on Twitter.


    Participants must have a Twitter account to participate in this course. Extensive experience in using Twitter is not required. A stable internet access is necessary for the tweeting exercises.

  • Design your Twitter profile

    Learning Outcome

    Create a Twitter profile for academic branding.

    Katrina Gulliver in 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics writes the first two commandments –

    1. Put up an avatar. It doesn’t really matter what the picture is, but the “egg picture” (the default avatar for new accounts) makes you look like a spammer.
    2. Don’t pick a Twitter name that is difficult to spell or remember.

    Read How to Choose a Good Twitter Username.


    1. Reflect on your choice of profile picture and Twitter handle.
    2. Examine Twitter profiles of other professionals in your field.
    3. Write your profile description.
  • Build a PLN on Twitter

    Learning Outcome

    Develop criteria for following others on Twitter.

    Read Using Twitter to build your PLN.

    Or 4 ways you can build a personal learning network on Twitter.


    1. Search #FollowFriday on Twitter.
    2. Follow 5 people now.
  • Using Hashtags

    Learning Outcome

    Compile a list of hashtags to follow.

    Read The Weird and Wonderful World of Academic Twitter.


    1. Explore hashtags on Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtag Project.
    2. Search for hashtags of interest to you on Twitter.
  • What’s a tweet chat?

    Learning Outcome

    Formulate three questions around a tweet chat topic.

    Go to #HealthXPH on Browse the transcript of the last #HealthXPH tweet chat last November 5.

    Read a pre-chat blog post for a #HealthXPH tweet chat here.

    1. Think of a tweet chat topic.
    2. Formulate three questions around your chosen tweet chat topic.
  • Tweet chat simulation

    Learning Outcome

    Evaluate the experience of participating in a tweet chat.


    1. The teacher will moderate a simulated tweet chat.
    2. Use the hashtag #TweetLearn to answer the question, Why should teachers be on Twitter?
  • Using TweetDeck

    Learning Outcome

    Plan columns in Tweetdeck.

    Watch How to Join a Twitter Chat


    1. Login to TweetDeck in your browser.
    2. Set up TweetDeck by specifying column content.