This week my course work included a social networking challenge. Every day I had to follow 50 new people and tweet at least 6 times. I have been hesitant to increase the people I follow since I do not get around to reading the posts from the 300 people I was following already. But a challenge is a challenge, so now I am now following 671 people. Most of the people I follow are educators focusing on educational technology and flipped learning.
I am an active participant in the #flipclass chat. The chat is weekly on Mondays at 7 PM Central Time and is an energizer for the week. Each week in an honest, reflective and helpful way, ideas are exchanged, questions are asked and answered and best practices are analyzed. The topic of the chat changes each week and new people are welcomed into the discussion. This chat goes by fast and is one that I look forward to every week. To keep up with the chat I use Tweetdeck, and Twitter on my laptop and my phone to keep up with notifications. All of that technology is not necessary, but it helps me until I get better at using Tweetdeck.
In the spirit of the challenge I added two additional chat to my list, #iteachphysics. This was the first time I had been part of the chat. Participants were active and honest. The focus this week was standard based grading. It appears that this chat will be similar to #flipclass with teachers who are trying to improve their practices for their students. #oklaed was talking about flipped learning, so I hopped into that chat. I was able to answer some questions and have a great discussion about flipped learning with low tech schools. I had hoped to find other chats so I checked @cybraryman's web site. Jerry Blumengarten keeps a schedule of chats for educators. He also has other great information about building a professional learning network and some superstar educators to follow.
Following 50 new people each day seems excessive, but it turns out to be easier than I thought. I did not want to just randomly follow new people. I started by following people from the chats that I had interacted with. Then I looked at who some of my favorite tweeps follow and added them. Each time I followed someone more suggestions popped up. I am sure I missed a few by clicking too fast, but they will pop up again sometime. I already had some of the superstars from Jerry Blumengarten, but I used the opportunity to add a few more to my list. I added others by searching on topics that are of current interest such as #PBL and #edtech.
This challenge had some interesting results. I was checking my feed more often. I have a new source of collaboration and guidance for my class that is currently building a quad copter. Many people are sharing their blogs and other interesting articles they have found. Without seeing the tweets about articles pass by I might never have read the timely information that was right at my fingertips at a convenient time. Articles I want to read when I do not have time can be marked for reading later. I made some new connections and time will tell where they go.
I fondly call the people I interact with through twitter imaginary friends, most people call them tweeps. Since starting to use twitter at the Flipped Learning Conference in 2012, I have had the honor to meet some of them and build real friendships. Even if we have not met yet, we still learn together and work to improve our methods for our students. I look forward to building my professional learning networkand making new imaginary friends.
Blumengarten, J. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2014, from Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites: http://cybraryman.com/pln.html