Professional networking through Twitter

I can’t believe it was May when I last posted. Where has this year gone? Teaching seems to be a conduit for time travelling at warp speed- everything is measured in weeks, terms, semesters, years…before you know it, you’re another year older and all of a sudden you’ve got yet another new batch of little faces looking at you expectantly, waiting for you to work your magic on them.

This year for me has been one of huge growth and opportunity. I have been given the world of education on a platter and I have lapped up as much as I could hold. By this I mean I’ve had so many professional learning opportunities in so many different areas: technology, literacy, leadership, special needs, 21st century learning design… the list goes on. Yet the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn! The more I realise that I have to learn, the more I desperately want to learn! Through making some amazing friends at the Microsoft Partners in Learning forum in Brisbane this year, I’ve woken up to the benefits of using social media for professional networking.

My favourite by far is Twitter. Here, I meet like minded educators who share fabulous ideas as well as keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends within education. I follow people that I admire and I have been secretly chuffed when people have chosen to follow me. Half the world is already clued on to what I’ve only just hooked into these past few months, but in a small regional city like Geraldton, the need for Twitter didn’t seem too dire until I worked out what I was missing when I wasn’t a part of it! It is precisely because Geraldton is a small regional city that Twitter is so useful. I have met and chatted with people from all over the world through leads and links on Twitter. I have gained perspectives that come from people doing what I do or, more importantly, what I want to do, which is be a successful educator that makes a difference.

All it takes is to start an account and find someone that you admire within your field. Start following them and then look at who they follow. You might want to follow a few of those people too. Before long, you’ll come across more and more people that you can start following. You start paying attention to who is cued into Twitter at different professional learning opportunities and use this as a chance to connect and learn from people within these contexts. A few well placed tweets to the right people puts your name out in the public arena as an educator who is connected to the world and is interested in current trends. You also become aware of who are the big players within the profession through what they tweet about and where. Twitter is a means to gain access to their world and make yourself known to them.

A suggestion for using Twitter for professional networking: don’t mix personal and professional contexts. Tweets can be seen by anyone, including potential employers. It’s not a good look to Tweet about your fabulous Global Education project on one day and your stinking hangover in another (for example!). I keep Twitter for work and I have a Facebook account for my personal life that is accessed only by my close friends and family. It is on Facebook that I can control my privacy and who sees what. It is on Facebook that I post pictures of my children, my holidays, my friends. On Twitter I shout out my successes within the classroom and praise the ideas and contributions of those that inspire me. I receive news and participate in anything that can increase my knowledge within this ever-changing profession. I am able to construct the professional image I want to portray on Twitter through omitting most of my personal life from it.

If you haven’t hooked in to Twitter yet, give it a go. Better yet, follow me! @eduexhange and see who I follow.

Professional networking through Twitter

I love Google- but does Google love me back?

As with many people of my generation, I’m generally self- taught when it comes to the latest and greatest technologies and innovations. I try to keep up with what my students are already using and I try to discover technologies to enhance my teaching or save me time. There are so many options out there for us to grab hold of and use that when we find something that works, is simple and can slide into our work lives easily, we tend to just go with it without thinking too much about if there is a ‘bigger picture’ to consider.

Well, this was the case when I discovered (much later than the rest of the world, I know!) Google Chrome. I just love it! Google Docs, Google Drive, the web store and all of the web apps- it has really simplified some of my most time consuming tasks. For example, I team teach a class of Year 5 students. My teaching partner and I often use common documents to record data that previously we had just emailed back and forth (from home at midnight, slaving away over an overworked laptop…). Now, we simultaneously work on the same document from our separate homes while it saves and updates in real time.

These multi-user capabilities hold huge potential for collaborations between students within classrooms all over the world. Imagine a project partner that lives in a different country! The power of the internet really is fabulous. While I’m here, let me say that I’m a huge fan of OneNote and Skydrive, which have similar capabilities, however for ease of simplicity when I’m on the net, Google’s products win out when I’m in a hurry- which is almost always.

So, when I was shown the ‘Hungry Beast- Google’ clip (attached) at a recent conference, I was forced to stop and think. What am I risking by using this product? Am I tech savvy enough to protect myself? I hope no one actually puts this to the test! Am I just falling for a big joke formulated by a ginormous corporation that really just wants to own me?

I don’t know!

When we’re sifting through all of the amazing technologies available to us, we are generally pulling them from one of the big boys- Apple, Microsoft or Google. The question I’m now asking is, when I use something of theirs, what are they taking of mine?