Social Networking: Educators Jumping Out of the Silos!

Growing up in Idaho, you see a lot of these silos. They work great for storing materials and keeping them separate and isolated from other materials. Isolation is good in this sense because you don’t want to mix the “outside” with what’s “inside”.

Silos

Unfortunately, in education, too often we live and work in silos, trying to solve problems, innovate, and advance education with only a limited view of what we are doing, unable to see “how others are doing it” or being able to ask questions to those doing the same thing we are doing simply because we don’t know them. Conferences are great but sometimes you want more!

When was the last time you searched out someone doing your similar role at a different institution and started collaborating? I realize that some are not interested in sharing ideas or collaborating and that is okay, but there many educators that would love to ask  questions and receive feedback, suggestions, and responses. With all the growth of Professional Learning Communities, I think now is the time to start asking questions and really collaborating, building upon ideas to advance education. What works for one situation may help in another. Why reinvent the wheel again and again?

Follow me on Twitter at @Kodystimpson, if you are interested in online learning, Edtech, Instructional Design or Technology.

I also just created a new Twitter account specifically for educators interested in Online Learning in Higher Education @HigherEdOnlineL  It doesn’t matter what college, university, or school you work in. If you’re interested in collaborating, asking questions about online learning in Higher Ed (policies, processes, best practice, instructional design, tools, etc), please follow and ask your questions, I’ll tweet them out and let’s get some answers. Also be sure and reply to other’s questions. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be willing to SHARE your perspective.

So let’s begin collaborating & break out of these silos once and for all!

If your still wondering about whether to create a Twitter account, check out this post on Why Every Educator Should be On Twitter.

See you there!

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter

I used to wonder why someone would want to get on Twitter when there was Facebook. It seemed to be an unnecessary duplication of what I was already doing. But then… It happened!

At the ISTE2011 Conference I started meeting some amazing people. Now its kind of awkward to ask someone you barely know for their email adress and even if you did, you may not feel comfortable contacting them very often. But after hearing some of the presenters mention they were on Twitter I decided the time had come and I was finally going to try it out. “After all, I’m into Technology, I probably should be on Twitter”, I thought. So with that, I set up my account. Now just a few months later I’m sold!

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter.

1. You can follow anyone, but particularly the people you are interested in for your career field or interests. I follow people who are into the same tech-learning things I am, Edtech, mobile learning, instructional design, etc. Then I get to see the resources, “nuggets of wisdom”, news, or tips they share all related to what I am interested in. I don’t use Twitter like Facebook, its more of a Professional Learning Community for me. If I followed everyone like I do on Facebook, it would be more difficult to sift through all the tweets to get to the relevant information. One tool you could use to help find people to follow is Wefollow.

2. You can network with people you would otherwise never be able to.  If I want to know what educators in other places are doing, then I search for them and follow them. Amazing as it is,  there are hundreds of people doing exactly what you are doing and some might be doing it a little bit better! 😉 I may retweet their link or message, or send them a question asking about their tweet. You definitely get to know lots of people and the world seems much smaller. Its great to learn from the top professionals in your region (or the world), not to mention the added bonus of getting your foot in the door if you ever need a job somewhere. Twitter opens it all up.

3. Learn emerging trends relevant to your field right when it happens. With the Internet blazing forward and more and more educational resources available, why not tap into that knowledge? It’s nice particularly for teachers that are always trying to find the best tools, websites, and resources without having to reinvent the wheel. An added bonus is that almost every author or educator you hear about is posting information, resources, links etc on a daily basis. No need to wait until the next conference to be blown away by emerging trends that are being implemented everywhere else, you can glean some amazing insight just by checking the tweets and start implementing what you learn in your schools now.  Most schools, institutions, & businesses are on twitter too, many of which tweet about sweet deals. 😉

One suggestion is to simply set aside a few minutes each day to skim the tweets, open the relevant links in seperate windows and as you have time check them out or share what you learned to your followers. Similar to Facebook, Twitter doesn’t need to take over your life, just a few minutes a day checking in on the experts can make a huge difference in your professional learning.

Those are my thoughts on Twitter. The funny thing is when I’m done with this post I’m going to Tweet it out and everyone that sees it is already on Twitter and recognizes its importance. So just in case, I think I’ll post it on Facebook too. 

Oh by the way, you can follow me at Twitter.com/kodystimpson

Here above is a video on “Twitter for Educators” embedded from Youtube. If you are training faculty to use Twitter, it may help them understand what it is and why its such a powerful tool.