As most of you know, I am slowly integrating back into the real world after 6 days in Washington DC for NECC 2009. This was my first National Educational Computing Conference, and I have to admit that I didn’t quit know what to expect.
Leaving for Washington DC, I had a few personal and professional goals. I knew I wanted to learn more about educational uses for the iPod Touch in my classroom. I wanted to venture into the world of Second Life a bit so I could be taking advantage of more learning opportunities for me and my students. I also wanted to meet the people that I interact with daily online through my PLN (personal learning network) on various nings and Twitter. The experience itself turned into so much more. I will be processing and digesting this experience through a series of posts that I am working on, but I wanted to start with the idea of sharing about meeting my Tweeps, or the people in my Twitter learning network.
People throughout the week asked me about my favorite part of the conference, and I had to say that it was meeting the people in my Twitter learning network. I just got started on Twitter in October 2008, but it has quickly become an integral part of my personal learning and professional growth. I can numerate countless ways that these people have influenced me and my students both directly and indirectly. It was amazing to see the seamless transition between virtual interactions through Twitter and blogs into real life. The beauty of using Twitter as a PLN means that most people involved are there with a common goal – learning, growing and sharing for the benefit of students and education in general. The passion and enthusiasm that is so evident through our 140 character interactions became magnified in long conversations in the Bloggers’ Cafe (which ironically didn’t have food), impromptu meals (like the one I shared at La Tasca with a truly awe inspiring group of special ed teachers), and in hallways, sessions and panel discussions. We all have visions of Ed Tech celebrities, those people who we see as being just on a different level in the ed tech spectrum. Well, guess what folks? They are people, not just tweeple. The enthusiam for being change agents in the world of education were contagious. The fact that some members of my PLN even sought me out, saying that they wanted to make sure that they met me, was flattering and humbling. I always think of my time of Twitter very selfishly – I feel as if I certainly take much more than I give.
So what does this mean for us all? Build a PLN. It could be Twitter, Plurk, Classroom 2.0 or any other form of virtual learning network. The responses coming across your screen are coming from people, not tweeple. They are people who are gleaning much from your thoughts, fears, ideas, resources and struggles. Our perceived Ed Tech celebrities are those who are speaking the loudest and the longest. They are the ones living the educational goals we are championing. Jump in. Hang on. Be you. Encourage others to join. A flattened world for our children’s interactions must begin with flattening the walls around our own personal and professional learning.