If there was ever any doubt that I was in the right profession one would only have to look at my avatar’s bubble of most used words on Twitter. Before this semester, I did not have an outlet for professional interactions online and spent all of my time scrolling through Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. Each of these sites/apps has their place in my life, but Twitter has recently shoved its way to the front of the pack and I think it is going to stay there. The EdTech community on Twitter is creative, supportive, and inspiring in turns. The site has also become a place where my personal academic interests intersect with my professional interests. I am easily wooed by article sharing and I could scroll for hours through posts spanning from The Royal Shakespeare Company to MindShift. Looking back on my own tweets (as represented in my edited “Visual.ly” infographic), I feel pretty good about how my web presence has developed on the site over the past four months. Clearly, I’m still starting out, with only 52 tweets and 29 followers at the moment. But with time and cultivation, I think my PLN on Twitter can become an important asset in my professional life.
Without a specific goal in mind I do not think the development of my PLN would have been as successful. I let an early quote in Curtis Bonk’s The World is Open (2009), lead how I wanted to build my community and guide my research, “Technology by itself will not empower learners. Innovative pedagogy is required. And the approaches will vary with the type and age of student” (p. 33). It is getting easier every year to become a 1-1 classroom, but it is a whole lot harder to make teaching choices that allow the technology to enhance student learning and comprehension. We know that having technology in classrooms is a good idea, so I did not want to spend my time reading articles trying to convince me of the obvious. Instead, I want to know what activities, apps, and assessments work in a tech-based classroom, and I want to hear it straight from the teachers who tried it. Diigo came in handy while I was collecting these articles. I will probably continue using the service as I find it far more useful than bookmarking in my browser. Diigo is not pretty, but it does its job well. Many of the articles I saved I found on Twitter, and eventually I started feeling guilty because I was not doing much research of my own. But the EdTech community on Twitter provided much of what I was looking for in terms of contemporary pedagogy. What I appreciate most is their dedication to progress without being completely focused on the equipment. We all love our shiny new tech tools, but those are rarely what we are working on in the classroom. Joining the conversation with teachers on the front lines of EdTech has already had an impact on my classroom, and I hope in continues to in the future.
Bonk, C.J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.