I started to actively construct my PLN (personal learning network) about two years ago as a part of ECS 210, a course about the complexities of curriculum. Since then, I’ve had off-and-on relationships with both Twitter and with my blog. Although I know both of these tools benefit me and help me grow as an educator, I have sometimes struggled to find time to use them consistently.
I’m really glad I chose to take ECMP 355 this semester because it motivated me to be much more consistent in blogging and tweeting as well as to make more connections with educators to build my PLN. By participating in these spaces, I also contributed to the learning of others! Here are some ways I did this:
I commented on my classmates’ blog posts about their learning projects to give encouragement, feedback, and suggestions.
I posed questions on my classmates’ blog posts to encourage deeper thinking.
I answered the questions my classmates posed in their blog posts to stimulate discussion.
I also provided resources that I thought might be helpful to my classmates.
I contributed to other people’s learning by encouraging them to come out to UR S.T.A.R.S. events. I did this by promoting our events on Twitter using poster images, popular hashtags, and pictures of freshly baked treats!
I also tweeted out thoughts and key learnings from professional development opportunities I attended, which allowed others to engage with the content presented even if they weren’t able to attend.
I moderated #STARSchat meets #BellLetsTalk, which was the first Twitter chat many ECMPers had ever participated in. I think this discussion about mental health was really encouraging for many of the participants.
I also participated in a few other Twitter chats, including #STARSchat on Supporting ELL and Syrian Refugee Students and #rpstrtalk. Unfortunately, I had class on Thursday evenings so I wasn’t able to participate in #saskedchat this semester.
I used Twitter to share awesome resources and tools with my PLN! Sometimes I shared resources with specific people and sometimes I shared resources to my PLN in general.
I also started to quote tweets and add questions/comments in order to start discussions.
I was also able to use Twitter to help my classmates problem solve.
I can’t say I used our ECMP 355 Google+ Community very often; however, I did use it to share my idea to start a social media campaign calling for the commemoration of the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery.
I also used it on occasion to share helpful course-related tips.
I wrote several of my blog posts in response to my classmates’ blog posts, linking to their blogs and explaining my thoughts in relation to theirs. In my post, Social Media Is Not A Brainwashing Monster, I linked to four of my classmates’ posts (Larissa’s, Ryan’s, Matthew’s, and Gillian’s) and explained the pattern I observed – that many people were writing about the importance of unplugging, disconnecting from social media, and being present in the moment.
It was not my intention to call my classmates out; I was just responding to a pattern that I saw and pointing out what I see as a problematic ranking of different types of connection (real, “authentic,” human connection vs. “inauthentic” connections made on social media).
After I started to receive comments on this post, I realized that it might have come across as a little harsh or as shutting down/misinterpreting the classmates’ posts. I felt horrible, as this was not my intention at all! I made sure I took the time to reply to everyone’s comments and clarify what I meant.
Because this post didn’t come across exactly how I meant it to, I learned that I need to be really clear when I blog so I don’t unintentionally offend others or make them feel like I’m twisting their words. Despite all of this, I am still happy I wrote the post because I think it stimulated some good discussion and made me and my classmates think about multiple perspectives on social media use.
“…I don’t so much see us contradicting ourselves in saying that there is a need to ‘unplug’ rather, we should maintain a positive portion of our lives dedicated to using the internet efficiently WHILE maintaining the ability to stay present in our real– as in non-virtual– lives… I feel like we are fighting the same battle… but wording it slightly differently: social media/technology is capable of being used in a productive and positive manner IF the authenticity of the people behind it is actually… authentic. Regardless of whether we are on the same wavelength, I really admire this very well constructed post.”Gillian Maher
“…I cannot speak for the others that wrote similar blog posts, but I think we would all agree that as valuable as social media can be, we need to find a balance in the way we use it. Personally, I think the time we spend off of social media or disconnected is just as important as the time we spend on social media. For me, I needed to have an experience where I was entirely disconnected from technology to see the importance in this. Although we may agree to disagree, your blog post certainly intrigued me and challenged my way of thinking.”Ryan McKillop
I was also really excited that some of my blog posts contributed to the learning of others outside of our ECMP 355 class. I was so honoured to have some of my posts shared with other educators and with students!
This post highlights some of the ways I’ve contributed to the learning of others online this semester. If you’d like to see more, you can check out my interaction log. I feel very supported by my PLN and look forward to continuing to build it by making connections with other educators. My current goal is to reach 500 Twitter followers.
I love being a connected educator!