I have always been a fan of technology. Social media, video editing programs, and Microsoft Word are a couple examples of the technology that I have used in my day-to-day life. I have always used twitter, facebook, and blogs for personal use. However, after being enrolled in ECS 210, my thoughts and opinions on these social networking tools has expanded. I have been able to broaden my personal learning network (PLN) and I can’t wait to keep up with it throughout my education journey.
Blogging is something that I have always been interested in. I tried making a personal blog back in 2012 and it was a fail. Then, in February 2014, I created this educational blog entitled ‘Crossing My Bridge‘. At first, it was really fun and entertaining. But, as the schoolwork piled up, I found myself fading away from my blog (aside from the occasional ECS 210 assignment). I never really kept up with it. In fact, if you look back through this blog, you will find a minimal number of blog posts. However, I have been a keen user of the social media network known as twitter. I’ve had a twitter account for the past couple of years and I feel that it is a great tool to use. It has been easier for me to use and access because I have the twitter app on my phone.
One specific example of the expansion of my PLN involves my journey through our ECS 210 inquiry group project. My job members and I were in the middle of researching and I was curious to see if we could learn more through fellow educators. So, I posted the following tweet:
I have come to realize that networking is a very important part of education. Throughout this course, I do not feel as if I was very active on my wordpress blog. I contributed the odd comment or two to my fellow students’ blogs but that was about it in terms of interaction. I also used google docs for some of my group projects and although it was also a helpful tool, I did not feel that I expanded my PLN through google docs either. However, I feel that I learned the most through the simple tool that is twitter. For many people, twitter can seem to be an overwhelming social media network. But, because I had been using it for so long, I found it to be worthwhile and even enjoyable. To reflect on how it helped me to expand my PLN, I will look back at the steps I took (and the steps that future educators can follow) to create a relevant twitter account.
First of all, twitter users need to know that it is important to surround oneself with educators on their online space. I started off by following Katia and Julie on twitter and then expanded from there. I then followed accounts like HuffPostEd and some other smaller education accounts.
From there, I explored some relevant hashtags (ex. #ecs210 and #edchat). I tried to contribute my thoughts to these hashtags to the best of my ability. I then followed some of my fellow education classmates. I favourited/retweeted their tweets and tried to add to their conversations.
When it came time to begin researching for our inquiry project in late February, I immediately knew that I had to try looking to my personal learning networks (including twitter) to see if I could get some help. I knew that I was following Claire Kreuger on twitter (she was a guest speaker whom we had listened to earlier in the semester who talked about treaty education). Because our inquiry project was directly related to treaty education, I figured that she would be able to help out.
To begin, I sent the above tweet out and got no response. I’m not quite sure how I thought that I would have got a significant number of responses from that one tweet, but I figured that it was worth a try. Thankfully, Katia helped me out. She retweeted the tweet and asked for help from fellow educators. From there, my PLN grew. I was immediately overwhelmed with support. Some help came from educators near and far….
From there, I was in contact with a few Saskatchewan teachers. We were soon exchanging emails and thoughts on treaty education. Not only were the teachers concerned about our project but they also cared about the concerns that we might have had about ourselves as future educators. Jackie Sakatch, in particular, gave us many tips on how to deal with resistance to treaty education in the future (a social issue that guided our presentation).
I feel that through this simple inquiry project, my personal learning network grew. I have gained more education followers on my twitter account and I am no longer concerned with posting a question/project response on twitter. It is allowing me to gain responses and interaction with people all over. In fact, global learning is available on any social media network, really. You can ask a question and be answered by someone from across the globe within a minute. I know that, if I truly need it, help is a click away. I feel that the following quote is relevant on why educators should expand their personal learning networks: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others”.