Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moving Beyond 140

Technology and the Internet have brought an infinite amount of changes to the way we teach not to mention changes to our society. Luckily I am not one to sit still and let the world change while I watch. Therefore, I have always believed using technology is something to be embraced as a means to an end in the classroom and in my personal life. Part of my tech journey fortunately included the discovery of Twitter as a tool for Professional Development, resource sharing, peer engagement and collaboration. 

Many people, educators included, engage each other with vast amounts of, shall I say trivial dialogue albeit entertaining at times. An even greater number of educators share resource links that get saved into Delicious or Diigo for future reference when and if they might need or remember the resource link. Some like myself apply what we learn from these resources and it directly improves our profession. Twitter is an outstanding format for developing professional relationships that are rewarding and fruitful for a lot of educators including myself. The tools and ideas are endless and worthy in and of themselves. The problem lies in the usefulness of the relationships if they never move beyond 140 characters. Of course that presupposes a willingness to make those relationships useful.

Twitter provides a vehicle for connection but it is up to us to enhance those relationships and move them into something more permanent and useful. I envy my PLN that have gone to conferences like ISTE and have met face to face. So far I have met two PLN members and it was a rewarding experience. This year at NCSS I will finally get a chance to meet the most valuable members of my PLN, the SSChat crew. I encourage everyone to seek out your PLN beyond the 140 characters.

This year the core group of us @gregkulowiec, @becky_ellis_, @Dontworryteach(Jamie), @ShawnMcCusker and @kyteacher(Angela) have done some amazing things beyond Twitter. We have shared a GDoc on a number of occasions to plan for SSChat as well as write proposals for the NCSS conference in December. In May we started the SSChat Ning and have seen it grow for Social Studies teachers everywhere. We are currently planning more exciting things to come for our group. 

If you haven't done so, take the next step. Plan to meet people, work on a project together, Skype with each other's classrooms, go to conferences or engage in any other medium that enhances your professional and personal relationships beyond 140.