As the social networking course ends, it’s time for me to step back and look at several new windows of knowledge and what I’ve learned over the past 8 weeks.
One of the biggest changes in my thinking has been the ability to work effectively with a group or community and how that was facilitated by social media platforms. I’m not a Facebook fan, but having the Facebook course group made it really easy to stay in touch with my PLN group, chat and discuss things quickly and efficiently and also stay on top of what else was going on in the course. Every time someone posted in the group, it was a little reminder to myself to get something completed or gave me a chance to learn a bit from others in the course. I now see value in that type of shared space and if the interface is easy to understand and use, students will use it.
I’ve also become an even bigger fan of Twitter now that I have some skills in participating in Twitter chats. It’s just such an easy tool to start using, to start building up a group to follow and for finding a variety of information as your circle of connections becomes wider. If I were teaching a workshop to other faculty about starting their PLN journey or getting more active with social media, I would suggest Twitter in combination with a robust content creation tool like a blog or even video or podcasting. The wider the net you can cast with valuable content, the quicker you will begin to see benefits from making those connections. Twitter goes wide very quickly and is just a lightweight, easy to set up tool for social media newcomers.
Another important realization is just how much good information is available on the Web. And that’s for anyone, not just education professionals. The assignments we did around curation and evaluating content were fascinating and that’s an area that I want to explore more. I have many ideas for how to bring some of these tools and strategies into the work I do at my community college – I see an immediate application for Diigo in a faculty learning community that will be forming on Universal Design for Learning starting in September. I’d also like to try encourage members to set up Twitter accounts and get them in on some UDL related Twitter chats throughout the year.
Finally, I’ve realized in a big way how important it is to work with a suite of tools that “talk” to each other with respect to creating, sharing and organizing content. I’ve discovered new ways to use Evernote with Twitter and Hootsuite and other tools and now intentionally plan to build a working group of tools that help me create and manage my content. They have to be mobile and easy to use and for the most part free.
I read somewhere that micro-actions – small changes in habits or practices – are the engines of larger cultural changes. So I think I’ll approach this idea of integrating more social networking into the work I do in smaller ways and try to bring my colleagues and co-workers to the idea in bite-sized chunks. My mantras for the coming academic year are “show your work” and “create more, talk less” and what I’ve learned in this course will definitely help me do both.
If I were grading my blog, I would say that I did pretty well and would give myself the full 75 points. I self-hosted a new blog with the intention of keeping it going beyond my time at BSU and wanted to make it more about me and my professional journey than about the courses I’m taking. I think I did a good job of that. I tried to use original photos or content created by me for the majority of my work and otherwise gave credit where credit was due. I enjoy blogging and will likely keep it a central part of my PLE.