As I sit and reflect on my new understanding of networked learning I realize that I have come a long way. Perhaps, easier to do when you start far back…. This term I have created a new WordPress Blog as part of my learning project, used my twitter account daily, enjoyed writing and reading on our Google+ community and interacted on BlueJeans with my cohort, most of whom I have never met. My blog now has a nice clean theme and proudly boasts categories and a Twitter feed. No easy feat for a former Weebly fan. My twitter account was updated with a picture of me rather than a pretty picture (because I went to an Edcamp event and realized that I recognized many people from their twitter pics, but they had no idea who I was until I gave my name). I also made an effort to grow my PLN and follow more people. I spent hours combing through the lists of leaders in the edtech field to see who they followed. Over the course my followers grew from just under 300 to 433. I was amazed at how easy it was to interact with tech gurus and authors. I even sent a DM to Gary Stager asking for his PHD dissertation that wasn’t available to the public and he sent it to me!! I tried to read and comment on as many blogs as I could posted by my cohort and learned so much from all their comments and ideas. While I never quite got over my reluctance to speak on the Blue Jeans site, I enjoyed commenting in the sidebar chat and felt every bit a part of my class. I was rather sad when the class first came to an end, but now realize that I can keep these connections going through Twitter. So yes, I do feel like a networked learner. I still have so much more to learn, but am very comfortable taking my time to grow a meaningful and helpful PLN. Thank you to everyone who continues to help me on this journey.
Over the last few weeks I have had an opportunity to reflect on my digital identity and to think about how I manage the information that I put out into the world. I must admit that I am still mostly at the lurking stage and often second guess myself as to what I want to put out to the world. As a rather private person, raised in a stiff upper lip British household it is not natural to draw attention to myself. “What would the neighbours think?” was a common line used in my childhood to describe any behaviour that seemed out of the norm. The idea being that you don’t want to stand out, that only brash and egotistical individuals constantly tell everyone what they are doing or thinking. With this in mind, I approached Twitter with deep skepticism and trepidation. It is a very vulnerable feeling putting your thoughts into cyberspace. I have often wondered how to overcome this reluctance, as try as I might, it is hard to reframe years of thinking.
As my group of followers grows, and begins to include experts in many areas, it becomes even more intimidating to put my thoughts permanently into cyberspace. Trying to decide on the persona of my account is also a concern. Do I want my employers to read the same things as my friends? Do my Masters colleagues need to know personal details or should I stick to informative articles? I know that some people have multiple accounts, but the idea of managing even more information in even more places is too much for me at this stage. I like Google Plus for its ability to put people in different circles. Why can’t Twitter do that?
In order to improve my identity I have so far changed my profile on Twitter, tried to check it and post daily. I have combed through the followers of people I admire and have found new people and new hashtags to follow. I am trying to set aside time each day to check feeds, post comments, and add to conversations. I am still more comfortable retweeting interesting articles and tweets than creating my own so my personal goal for this week is to try to post more original content- pictures from my class, ideas I think are important…. Who cares what the neighbours think!
A recent retweet on @_valeriei- Does Posting More Content Lead to More Engagement? New report tracks 2 years of data: made me think that perhaps the neighbours are so overwhelmed with their own data that they don’t really notice or care. Perhaps the key is not to create a giant PLN but instead a manageable one in which I feel supported and listened to and can make meaningful contributions that lead to active engagement.