“Chance favors the connected mind.”
Building a professional learning network is a key element in the ECI 831 experience. There have been some notable highlights as well as challenges on the journey to becoming more connected this semester. Overall, the most transformative change is not reflected in the number of connections made but rather the quality and focus of interactions.
Getting plugged in with the educator community at Twitter was likely the most influential networking space for me. Previously, I only really dabbled with Twitter- rarely posting and quickly scanning my feed. I have been so impressed with the generous posture of those in the tweeting community. It was a sweet surprise to see how much people are willing to give and contribute in this space. Following chats and hashtags was also a new discovery for me- something I didn’t pay much attention to in the past. This has certainly added a new, dynamic dimension to my Twitter experience. Two thumbs up for tweeting!
I quite enjoyed the Google Plus community, as well. I like the quick “recap” feel of Google Plus. I can scan and get a feel for what people are thinking and finding online. I also like that I don’t have too think overly hard when I respond to an article- it can be a quick thought or question that comes to mind. Likewise, you can share something you’ve found and get quick feedback from others. For me, I find Google Plus more visually appealing than Twitter because it’s easier to follow the path of a conversation. I think it serves the purpose of this class community very well. I am not sure that I will use Google Plus in my everyday social networks with much frequency at this point, though.
Blogging takes more work, but it is more rewarding than both tweeting and “plussing” (?). I have been intending to get back on the blogging train for years now (I do keep a steady classroom blog, but I rarely write and reflect on it). It was good for me to be forced into this, because I really do enjoy it. It’s just a matter of finding the groove and sticking with it! Writing helps me unravel and then reravel thoughts in a way that just sitting and thinking can’t seem to match. I could have done a better job of writing in response to others in the class, as I think this is a really neat way to connect and network through blogs. One time we did manage this was on Remembrance Day, when Ryan wrote a piece and then a couple of us followed suit. I thought that was a neat little movement and it could have happened more with more frequency if I had been more intentional.
Stephen Johnson could be right about chance favouring the connected mind, but I think it likely favours the balanced one, too. This was a definite challenge for me (something I mention in my summary of learning). I found it stressful to be firing on all three cylinders- Twitter, Google Plus and blogging. I know it wasn’t an expectation to stay plugged in all the time, but I still felt that way (my own expectations!). I loved the content of this class and I really enjoyed being connecting with people, but I didn’t like the bits of guilt that I felt during spaces when couldn’t, or chose not to be connected. Again, most of this was self-imposed, but I will be glad to interact in my online spaces without that pressure.
I am interested to see where these little pathways take me in the weeks and months to come. I am glad I had the chance to create new connections and find meaningful ways to interact with other educators online. The best part is the idea-sharing and the inspiration-spreading!