Serendipity and Sue Waters: Benefits of Being Connected.

A stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information — that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe, we are a part of this flow.

John Borthwick As quoted here.

That’s a quote from 2009 and I don’t think the stream metaphor is big enough anymore. A river? An ocean current? Maybe solar winds? Sorry, I digress into earth science easily… The point is that social media, and especially Twitter, is massive and can be intimidating. That’s probably why only 218 million of the 1 billion registered users of Twitter are active.

I jumped into the Twitter stream around the time this quote was written but I’m a long way from being really connected. Although I do give and take from the Twitter River of Great Resources, I am in the infancy of building online relationships.

One relationship I have developed is with Sue Waters. Yes, it’s Sue’s job to support Edubloggers, but she goes way beyond. She and I have connected about the ins and outs of blogging of course but also about our kids, chocolate, roundabouts and driving on the wrong side of the road (Sue’s from Australia). We were hoping to get together the last time she was here, but it just didn’t work out.

I am teaching an additional qualification course for teachers on integrating Information and Computer Technology (ICT). One of the requirements of the course is to create a blog for class reflections. During prep I wanted the link to Edublogs’ 30 days of blogging challenge as a resource for my students. Instead of going to my bookmarks, I googled it. I found instead a link to Sue’s new, very comprehensive, Edublogs Teacher Challenges that guides you through setting up and using a personal or class blog. It even has sections on building your PLN and using Web 2.0 tools.  Excited about this new resource, I headed over to Twitter to share the good news. Who should be posting at the same moment, about the same site, but Sue Waters.

Like the connected educator she is, Sue was asking for help with what should be in the video section of the site. Some teachers would call this “plagiarism” but crowdsourcing is a powerful 21st century skill! Sue pointed out the kind of detail she needed for video by linking to her photo section. Wow. That was just what I needed for teaching teachers about Creative Commons and finding and using pictures online.

At first I just watched her discussions with Alec Couros about YouTube copyright. In the past I would not have joined into/interupted two edtech gurus’ conversation but I’m trying to engage more and get over my feelings of “less than” so I asked a question.

In the end, I got clarity on next steps to support a teacher, Sue got some extra info she might not have solicited from Alec without my question and we all built deeper online connections. It’s something that probably happens often to truly connected educators like Sue and Alec, but it’s new for me. I’ve heard enough examples of the power of 21st century learning that I talk about it all the time in presentations. It’s good to have some more personal experiences!

While Sue, Alec and I chatted, David Cruz posted a link to digital citizenship week resources from Common Sense Media–something I needed for another teacher.

When I thanked her, Sue told me to say that she just checks in with Twitter to avoid getting out of bed and getting to work, but it often ends up with some productive work being accomplished. Sometimes it is a waste of time opening up any social media, but in the space of 10 minutes, I had 3 of my needs met through this dip in the river. I think I will head on over to Sue’s advice on building your PLN so I can have these experiences more often! Who’s with me?!

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  1. Great post! I too am beginning to make connections & I am loving it. When I finish my reading AQs I would love to take ICT with you. Hope you are teaching a spring session!

    • Thanks Debbie. I have admired your ability to connect with people online so easily. You have jumped into Twitter and blogging with both feet.

      I’m pretty sure I will be teaching the ICT again in the Winter session. I’d love to have you in the class!

  2. Hi Susan

    I definitely wouldn’t have thought about asking those questions on lip dub and it was a really important question! I’m really glad you asked the question and followed it up with more questions which helped find the information I need to share!

    Hadn’t thought much about the impact of how others perceive us. Both Alec and I are always happy to help others; and gain when others share their thoughts. I try hard to respond whenever someone does engage in conversation. However, there are some with high followings that are less likely to engage in conversations. How do we encourage educators new to twitter to take the risk in engaging in conversations while explaining that not everyone will respond back or engage? My advice is learn to recognize those that are willing to engage and accept that some won’t necessarily chose to.

    Thanks for the link to Digital Citizenship week!

    We’ve had an increased number visiting our PLN series. I really need to look at updating that series! I might need to recruit some helpers!

  3. Thanks for everything, Sue. I’m not sure how to encourage people to connect. I hesitate to talk to people who have so many followers unless I have something I feel is helpful to them. Many have seen the “Obvious to you, amazing to others” video, but I feel like the “gurus” have seen it all.

    As for helpers… I would love to help, even though I need the PLN help! 🙂 Just let me know what I can do!

  4. Hi Susan

    Thanks for your insight. The only time I really look at someone’s following/followers count is when I’m checking new followers and deciding if to follow back. It’s personal — but I have an issue with those that use auto follow apps to increase following. Hard to believe I still check every single follower but I do! Following/Followers and their conversations tell you a lot about what they stand for and are about.

    My approach is I treat Twitter more as a conversation. I appreciate that someone can’t always reply to everything, since I know how time consuming that can be, but if I’ve tried a few times to engage with someone and they choose never to respond back then I move on and focus on those that do. It is their loss not mine.

    If you are worried about interacting — look at their tweets and conversations. They always give you a good feel of the person.

    LOL “Obvious to you, amazing to others” — each of us have preferred mediums! Alec, George and some of the others are really into video. I find videos more time consuming so videos are my weakest area. I’ve heard a lot about the video but this is the first time I’ve watched it. Thanks for sharing it!

    I need to think about the PLN series and let you know! Hope that is okay? Probably need to work out what we want in it. Maybe we could make it a project for #CE13 where we crowd source people writing sections?

  5. Hi Susan,

    This is a fabulous post and conversation in the comments. I’ve never seen Obvious to you, amazing to others. I feel that way often, that I don’t have much to contribute or offer others. When I think I have an original idea, then do some research, I end up finding dozens of others who had the same idea long before me. So, I just stopped worrying about trying to have an amazing idea, and decided just to share what I’m learning about, or resources that my teachers could need. Typically, my posts are my organizing the ideas and resources for professional development that I’m offering or have offered. Other times, it’s just for me as I make sense of what I’m learning.

    I think my posts are helpful to others. More importantly, the learning that transpires from building PLN has been incredible for me. I am the only Tech Integration Specialist in my district, so being connected through my PLN has been invaluable to me.

    Thanks again for the conversation.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

    • Thanks for your comment, Tracy. I didn’t realize how lucky it is to be part of a team of technology integration specialists in our board. It is invaluable to be able to work together and share resources or presentation ideas. I like your blog. It’s very comprehensive and easy to read.

      Looking forward to connecting with you again in the future!

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