Friday, November 23, 2007

Social Networking

"It" finally happened.

So many invitations to join in the past. I just didn't want to make the time to click and login and confirm and - and - and.

Myspace dot what? And Why?

Now that "it" happened, and I'm "socially" networked, others know can know who my friends are, how we are acquainted, what they've sent me and so forth. I'm still uncertain how public I want to be, especially with former students, but I was prepared by twits who can follow who I follow.

I've enjoyed my twitbin which allows me an asynchronous peek into the lives of my compatriots in China.

I can't remember exactly what made me take the plunge into social networking beyond 2x daily Skype chats with my trans-continental husband.


All I know is that in less than 48 hours:
  • I was connected to a HS senior who had been my kindergarten student my kindergarten year of k-12 teaching.
  • I found out what is going on with my former students from Saudi Arabia.
  • My ace-boon-coon #1 buddy added me a day later and shared the stories of her heart I missed hearing
  • And my partner in practical jokes from Alaska sent me Thanksgiving wishes and brought me up to speed on those victims (yes, the current president and a whoopee cushion right after a speech!) lost but not forgotten.
What are the implications in education? I'd love to have a social network based on our similar interest in curriculum and internet professional learning communities of best practices. Am I ready to "pitch" it? How does one "tweak" it for a competitive environment?

Finally, what about networking on a professional level? Can I "write it forward" and find ways to connect the dots to other purposes? I'm watching a colleague take flight by including every contact in his social networks as he does his globetrotting sharing. As part of a company instead of being an independent contractor, I wonder how an associate (me!) would manage this volume of communication. I can tell there is a strong need for this sort of insta-link in our professional community, but when do I phase that into the high demands already faced? Remembering my life as a performing artist, I'm not quite ready for that transition to free agent.

Right now, I'm glad to be networked. I love life and love what I'm learning right where I am. However, the ride is much sweeter with old friends just a click away.

1 comment:

Jeff Utecht said...

Two social networks you might want to check out:

http://classroom20.ning.com/
http://school20.ning.com/

That are exactly what you describe.

I think we're going to see more free agents in the future. People who are highly adaptable as Thomas Friedman puts it in The World is Flat.

These free agents will make connections via the web. Whether through sites like linkedin.com or through virtual worlds like SL.

The world will become full of niche people who have skills in certain areas that span many different industries.

Take myself for example. My niche is knowing, understanding, and using these tools in an educational environment. In the future someone that has a specific skill set like this might not work for a school long term but more on a short term basis. One year contract here, and then there, helping any industry understand how their employees can learn in using these new tools. Of course many global companies have already embraced these tools, embraced this new type of learning and communication.

My own thoughts are that we need to be teaching students how to adapt, how to use the right tool for the right job. We must understand in an information world, information changes faster than we can comprehend, that we do not need to know it all, but we do need to have the skills to find it, learn it, and apply it when we need it. How do we teach that skill? Is that a new skill? Or a skill we've always taught just remixed?