This week I started a social network. No, I am not trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. I have no desire for a billion users. The nine who already signed up are enough for me. This week’s assignment for my Educational Technology class was to create our own social network.The trouble I’ve always had with social networking is that it seems to take up a lot of time that could be better spent accomplishing in other ways. It just seems strange to me when I watch other people lives taken over by the struggle to keep in constant contact with their 247 closest friends.
Besides my reluctance to engage in Facebook style social media, I had another dilemma with the assignment. I couldn’t exactly enroll all of my second graders into my network. They are not yet computer literate for something as complex as this. I wondered who could I even create a network with. Was there anyone who would join? I went ahead anyway and created a social network. I chose Edmodo because it was a closed system. I couldn’t embarrass myself if nobody would see. It was a lonely little network. I could talk to myself, post to myself and reply to myself. I wasn’t sure if when I was posting, I was replying or vice versa. Either way it was a sad, lonely existence for the sole member of my social network. There had to be a better way.
I suggested to the course director that instead of assigning the twenty people in the course to create their own individual networks, let us make one network for twenty people. The idea was that if we all make an effort to post and reply to each other’s posts, we would have, in essence, created our own private social network. It seemed to be within the parameters of the assignment. He agreed that we could do it and reassured me that even if it doesn’t work, I will have gained from the experience. I guess that answer works for anything that you are not risking your life to try.
So, I invited my fellow classmate to join my network. People began signing up. It is impossible to describe the thrill as my idea caught on and people joined the group. We are pushing towards ten members. Most have posted and replied. Conversations have been ping ponging back and forth. Teachers are sharing classroom ideas. Others are uploading their files. It is exhilarating to watch an idea come to life.
Sometimes a person needs to seize the initiative. Pounce on an idea and run with it. See where you end up. Often it will take you to a place that you could not imagine. New vistas may be opened that were previously uncharted. I didn’t intend for this result. I was just looking for a way to complete my assignment. Unexpectedly, my eyes were opened to a brand new perspective.
I still do not have a lot of time for social networking. But now, I must definitely admit that I see the benefits and the draw of a network at a professional level. It brings a level of vitality to the ongoing professional development that a teacher must do to stay on top of their field. By connecting to other educators with whom ideas can be discussed and methods can be perfected, you are creating your own Personal Learning Network.
Will it continue? I don’t know. At what level of involvement? I am not sure. I will see where this trip takes me. I gained from the process. I connected to many other dedicated educators. It will be interesting to see where it goes….and if you see me online, feel free to friend me!!