10 years ago today, I created @fryed on Twitter.
I’ve spent most of my life in rural Canada – from northern Ontario, to central Ontario, then to my dream location in northwestern Ontario, which will always be a home base. From there, I have started a quest to learn about education in all of Canada, not just Ontario, and for the next 5 years I am based in the stunningly beautiful community of Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Twitter opened up my world. It was my first real experience with the read-write web – web 2.0, which gave people the power to contribute to the network, to build understanding together, to question thinking, to share with the world.
As a mom, travelling to take courses for professional learning, was out of the question. But now, learning could happen from the couch!
Twitter gave met the chance to learn from so many interesting people while my kids slept down the hall. In the early days, it was @irasocol @cogdog @courosa @datruss @karlfisch and so many more who have come and gone throughout the decade. I was hungry for learning. Each small post gave me the chance to find the ideas that were inspiring others, the new technology that was changing how we work, the MOOCs and blogs and Flickr accounts that sustained me.
This network of educators was my world. It challenged my thinking and changed my thinking. This is when my challenges really began, because when you have a world of ideas open to you, it’s hard to co-exist where those ideas are not embraced or understood. The vast distance between my face-to-face network, and my innovative online professional learning network, became hard to manage. For connected educators, this doesn’t go away. Like so many things that change exponentially, this also a new professional skill to learn.
How do we approach our colleagues with the ideas we learn from our PLN?
I have followed nearly 1000 new people every year. I’ve had to learn to use lists to manage the information flow – weather/news/road reports kept separate from math and leadership, and a separate stream for my interest in open education. Each day I find new people with ideas that are interesting, and that make me want to ask more questions.
Just tonight, I was able to connect a teacher who wants to podcast with several educators who have already created how-to resources for new podcasters, and posted them openly online.
As a platform, Twitter is far from perfect. I think we will have moved on from it in 10 more years. But for now, it’s where educators are, and that’s where I need to be too.
Networks only work when we contribute back and create value.
Thanks to my PLN for 10 years of connecting, sharing, creating, curating and responding. It has changed my professional trajectory.