Website – Social Networking

Monday morning, I am getting ready for a workshop in one of our conference rooms. Setting up tables, laying out electrical reels, putting necessities on the tables: all of activities normally reserved for another day with educators. Sue walk in and asks, “How are you feeling?” A little confused, I responded, “Fine. Why?” “I was just wondering how your back was after you and the boys moved all of that sand,” she responded. “How did you know we did that?” I asked. “It was on your Facebook!” she exclaimed.

More and more people are using social networking sites to communicate and share. Not only for personal use but professional use as well. I use some for personal, some for professional use – and always try to keep the two separate, of course. (That’s probably a topic for blogging in itself!) Social Networking has received a bad rapport in schools, I believe, because it has been untamed, unchartered territory. Our students were the ones paving the way and, well, they haven’t had much direction on HOW or WHAT it should be used for.

Let’s get in and explore a couple of different social networking sites and see how it might benefit your or your students.

Twitter – I already spoke to this in a previous blog post. Highlights are personal professional development, networking, social filtering and more.

Facebook – I use this for keeping up with family and friends. Sharing what we are doing, pictures, and fun applications that they have to enhance the online social networking environment.

LinkedIn – This is the “professional” version of Facebook. Professionals all over the world share their experiences, resumes, and create groups to schedule events and collaborate.

Ning – A social networking site that allows you to create your own group to share blogs, upload files and media, participate in discussions, meet new people and much more. This is been a popular site for educators to create interest groups.

ESU 10 Communities – Communities of educators in ESU 10 that allow the sharing of their interests, files, websites, etc. in a blog format. 

ALI or Apple Learning Interchange – Educator driven lessons and ideas to support learning using technology. Lots of groups, collaboration and general information.

These are just a few of the social networks out there. I challenge you to try one of them and see how it might work in your classroom!

Web Tool – Twitter

There are some things that you look at on the web and think – “I just don’t have time for this!” When I first looked at Twitter a year ago, that’s exactly what I thought. I created an account and left it sit for months. But then came back to it and was amazed at the potential. As with most tools, it can be a huge time waster and for a lot of people, that’s just what it is. But for me, it is an invaluable tool. A tool I use for collaboration, personal professional learning, and sometimes a release from the real office.

So what is Twitter? By definition, it is a social micro-blogging service. That means you have 140 characters to communicate important ideas with your network of friends and/or colleagues. I have heard it called a “slow motion chat room” also. Some have referred to it as a group instant messaging system. However you think of it, the main point is that it connects you to those people you feel are important. You determine who your network of friends are and what you want to share.

Since my field is educational technology, these are the people I choose to befriend on Twitter. Our conversations include websites, ideas, surveys, etc. on how we can better use technology in the classroom. 

There are really two major components of Twitter and they both have to do with building your network of friends. They are your Followers and those you are Following. You can see who others are following and who is following them. So, for example, if you know Tony Vincent is a great resource and  you find him in Twitter you may start “following” him. He will update with some great posts and give us all some really valuable resources. Then, you can see who Tony is following and you’ll see there are some people he is connected with that are pretty intelligent too! You’ll soon have a bunch of really smart people to follow and be up to date with all the latest and greatest news they know.

As you find more people to follow, those people will start following you. To see what YOU have to share. Soon you’ll have just as many followers as you have of those following you. You’ll soon have a network of colleagues you can bounce ideas off, share resources, frustrations, coffee habits or whatever.

Get an account – it’s free and if you don’t like it, maybe there will be something else you can try. Good luck and have fun! Add me to your network!