This morning I was asked by Mari Brown to contribute thoughts (along with Peter Gow and Michael Ebeling) to an upcoming article in NBOA Net Assets Magazine on the growing role of social media in educational professional development. Here are a few excerpts of my responses:
We have seen an explosion of authentic network participation on Twitter amongst educators who meet and share meaningful, targeted, ideas and resources with high frequency and in real time, which pretty much are the ingredients for quality learning.
Here is the critical connection: if I read a blog I like, I SHARE IT ON TWITTER! It takes about ten seconds to do this, and then others benefit from my blog reading, as I benefit from theirs. This is the key connection that makes social media professional learning so powerful. The group is acting as a neural network to access, filter, and share vastly more knowledge than any one of us can on our own. Over time you find those parts of the network that provide you the quality and quantity of knowledge that works for you. If you are not participating in this network, you and your organization are at a tremendous disadvantage, just like a one-stop town that has been bypassed by the interstate highway. Those towns lose population and resources because they have lost connection to the flow of commerce and people. Social media is the interstate highway of today. You are either part of the flow or you begin to lose relevancy.
I did not realize how isolated I had become…how isolated we all were as professionals…until accessing the knowledge base of the blogosphere. I used to think I had to wait until an annual conference, or make a special call to colleagues, or put out a request on a listserve, to gain new knowledge.
In the past, learners, which hopefully includes all of us adults as well as our students, have been primarily consumers of knowledge. In the information age, we need to become creators and managers of knowledge as well. Isn’t this the role of education?