plexus (AKA Introducing Social Media for professional learning)

1. a network, as of nerves or blood vessels.
2. any complex structure containing an intricate network of parts: the plexus of international relations.

Want to know more about using social media like Twitter for professional information and collaboration? See the top right sidebar for links to the entire blog series —->

Many people have spoken in their blogs about why they love using Twitter and various other social media to share information professionally. Others have posted in their blogs about the specifics of how to use Twitter and so on. However, none of them have posted this information with respect to speech-language pathology. This post will begin a series on using social media to create a professional (personal) learning network (PLN). I wanted to start by introducing the various kinds of social media that I use to network with other SLPs and related professions as well as the context in which I use them. I will follow up with how-tos for the various resources and hopefully use a speech and language lens.


twitter logo

I’m starting with Twitter, since this is where I ended up starting with social media (not including Facebook, which I only use for personal and barely at that). Twitter is a good example of Web 2.0, which is how the internet has evolved to be more interactive for users. I was first introduced to Twitter as a source of professional information last winter. I was skeptical at first, but then saw how teachers are using Twitter to interact with each other (and sometimes students) professionally. I began to see how Twitter could be used for learning purposes, rather than for inane information sharing about oneself. This intrigued me, but there weren’t very many speech pathologists to interact with online at the time and learning the Twitter system took some practice and figuring out. Once I found some SLPs worth ‘following’ and got the hang of Twitter, I was hooked on learning and sharing.

I use Twitter to find out about and share useful links, materials, and ideas with other professionals, as well as to ask questions in my day to day practice. For example, if a student provides a response on standardized assessment and I’m not sure if I should mark it correct or not, I might throw it out to the Twitter community to see what others would do and why. Or if I am looking for new materials or ideas to tackle a certain problem I will ask my colleagues on Twitter, who are usually more immediately accessible to me than my colleagues in real life.

One surprising relationship I developed was with my professional association, CASLPA ( @CASLPA). My relationship with CASLPA is a big deal, since I didn’t give them much thought before getting to know them better by following them and chatting online. ASHA (@ASHAWeb) and RCSLT  (@RCSLT) are also on Twitter. I’ve developed relationships with some of the businesses involved with speech pathologists too, like Pearson Assessment (@SpeechnLanguage). I’ve found the immediate accessibility to companies like Pearson very helpful in asking them questions or presenting concerns I may have with materials they sell. Pearson was even able to quickly sort out an order problem that I had few months ago!

I’ve also struck up collegial friendships with people I’ve met on Twitter, which has enabled us to work together to develop and share resources, create a discussion group, and even design an app. We frequently help problem solve each others’ difficulties in therapy and assessment and provide advice for various situations.

The only problem I developed with Twitter was getting so many resources from the professionals I followed that I couldn’t keep up with the information flow. I was being directed to too many webpages every day to remember and find them again. Then I learned about, a social bookmarking site that allows me to bookmark webpages from any computer and access them on any computer. I’m also able to ‘tag’ bookmarks with keywords and even create lists for others to see and use the bookmarks I’ve saved. As an added bonus, this allowed me to provide ONE website address for teachers or parents to find all the links I might recommend to them. These links may have games or information to help with home/classroom practice and carryover.

I use Google Docs to share resources (usually my own; always stay within copyright laws) and even to create meeting agendas at my place of work. Instead of everyone emailing one person who has to maintain a meeting agenda, people can add their own agenda items and check the agenda in their own time. I also used Google Docs to put together a proposal with a Twitter colleague of mine, Janelle Albrecht (@albrechtjn), with whom I’m presenting at a conference in April but whom I’ve never met in person (yet).

Several of us on Twitter began a Shared Resource Folder in Google Docs so that all SLPs on Twitter could share various resources with permission from the authors, if they are not themselves the author of the material. There are many great resources within it, some of it used with permission from important researchers in the field. In it there is also a Goal Bank (therapy goals that various people have contributed) and a Twitter Book of SLPs to find the SLPs who are using Twitter actively. You require permission to have access to this folder and the documents within it from one of 4-5 SLPs on Twitter such as @albrechtjn, @mtMarySLP, @speechreka, and me (@SLPTanya).


Recently, a new way for SLPs to interact on Twitter was introduced. SLPChat is an international discussion group that occurs roughly every six weeks. Regular ‘chats’ on Twitter is nothing new, but this is the first one directed specifically at SLPs. So far we have discussed using Cycles for phonology as well as intervention and assessment for Dysphagia/Feeding. You can find out more about SLPChat dates, topics and use on the SLPChat blog and you can follow them on Twitter.

This is a social networking site meant for professionals, but tends to be more formal and static than Twitter. It is set up in a bulletin board style of interaction. There is a lot of great information and interesting discussions for speech pathology happening there, however. I am currently signed up, and I get emails, but I don’t keep up with LinkedIn. That’s why I’ve invited a guest blogger to do an entry on how to use LinkedIn so stay tuned.


I’m guessing you already know about blogs, since you’re reading one presently. There are many SLP blogs – more than I can keep up with reading! I have a few on my blogroll to your right, but there are more listed in the Shared Docs folder under a file called “Shared Links”. Or, better yet, you could check out Sean Sweeney’s (@speechtechie) SLP Blog Bundle through Google Reader, a great way to keep up with multiple blogs.

I forgot to include Facebook when I first published this post. Oops. I think I forgot because it is so prolific in our culture, however I’d be remiss not to mention that you can use Facebook to access professional information. Many professional associations, groups and individuals have a Facebook page that you can ‘like’, which more or less subscribes you to the information they post in a similar way to Twitter. In fact, you can link your Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to post to both simultaneously. UPDATE: There is a new group on Facebook called SLPeeps. I don’t personally use Facebook very much, but many people do and love it. I’m not against Facebook, I’m just busy enough with the many other social media I’ve already listed. This is the same and only reason I don’t actively participate in LinkedIn at this time. The beauty of social media is that there’s bound to be something that will be a good fit for just about anyone.

In my next posts I will explain how to use Twitter; the lingo, functions, and social use ‘rules’. I will later explain how to use Google Docs if there is a demand for it and things like Diigo and Google Reader. Finally, I will have a guest blogger explain how to use LinkedIn and possibly Facebook.

Happy networking!

22 comments on “plexus (AKA Introducing Social Media for professional learning)

  1. speechbob says:

    I’m kind of surprised that there are more SLPs online, but there are a growing number joining the #slpeeps all the time (non from my district – I think they’re all technophobes).

  2. Dean says:

    Good post! I look forward to reading the next ones!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CASLPA, Tanya Coyle. Tanya Coyle said: New blog post beginning a series on how SLPs can use social media to create a PLN: #SLPeeps […]

  4. slotaag says:

    Looking forward to future posts!

  5. Brenda Arsenault says:

    I look forward to your advice on how to use Twitter. I have signed up, but I’m still confused!
    Also, I’m wondering how does one get permission from one of you to access the shared Google Docs?
    Love your Blog!

    • slptanya says:

      Hi Brenda,
      If I’m following you on Twitter, send me a Direct Message (start your tweet with D SLPTanya) and tell me your email address. If I’m not following you, please ask me to follow you by starting your tweet with @SLPTanya. The email must be linked to Google or a gmail address in order for you to add or edit any documents.

  6. ndnspeechmom says:

    THIS I’d the post I wish I had read when I first started tweeting.

    • slptanya says:

      wait till the next post, then. That’s the post you wish you had read when first starting Twitter. It’ll be a complete (visual) how to with SLPeeps examples. Of course, when you started Twitter, the SLPeeps didn’t exist!

  7. Sean Sweeney says:

    Great Post…Preach! Just wanted to mention again that peeps on Google Reader can subscribe to a whole bunch of SLP Blogs at once by accessing the SLP Blogs Bundle.

    I have to ask @namastebyday if I can add her!

    • slptanya says:

      thanks Sean, I don’t know how I forgot that?! I’ve updated the post to include it, and used your FB page to highlight it’s professional use (another glaring oversight in social media).

  8. Deb Truskey says:

    Great post Tanya! Very well put! I am an SLP outside of Chicago. I have taught a PLN class once. Second session about to begin in two weeks. I am amazed that more people are not building a solid PLN. So,I continue to shout it from the roof top, to whoever will listen, GET CONNECTED!
    You didn’t mention Skype. Not your thing? I know that I responded when SLPBob asked for slpeeps to post their Skype names. Not sure who else did.
    Thanks for all that you do! Your work is greatly appreciated! Love the SLP chats!

    • slptanya says:

      Thanks for the comment, Deb. I am also telling anyone who will listen. @albrechtjn and I are presenting on this very topic at the CASLPA conference in Montreal the last week of April. I’ve now begun to just throw out the various links or knowledge I come across and mention where I got it from and then people begin to say ‘you got all the from twitter??’

      I do have skype, but don’t use it that often, although @speechreka and I are on it the entire time we host SLPChat so we can work out kinks in the background. I guess I see it as more of a digital meeting/phone service than true social media but that’s probably very wrong of me. Perhaps I will include skyping in a future post in the series. Thanks for the idea 🙂

  9. […] my last post I explained how I, personally, use social media to build my own PLN (personal learning network). By […]

  10. […] blog post from Mary Huston.  I am signed up with LinkedIn, but as I said in my first post about using social media to develop a PLN, I don’t really use it; certainly not to it’s full potential.  Mary has been using […]

  11. […] my last post I explained how I, personally, use social media to build my own PLN (personal learning network). By […]

  12. […] I decided to get started I had two goals. I loved the idea of developing a Personal Learning Network  that the SLT/SLPs were modelling so well. For a first year I have been amazed at just how much I […]

  13. […] à chaque fois sur un thème choisi et annoncé à l’avance. Vous pouvez également lire le blog de Tanya Coyle (en anglais), une orthophoniste canadienne qui parle des intérêts de Twitter pour développer son […]

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