I taught a building your PLN (Personal Learning Network) via Twitter course for my school district the week before winter break. I was so excited for the opportunity to share Twitter and my PLN with other teachers in my district. I also had plenty of snacks (always important for after school meetings). I was ready to make the case for WHY rather than HOW.
Three students arrived. Two of the three seemed to get started right away creating their Personal Learning Networks. However, I had a school counselor in my class that seemed to have more difficulty. She struggled to sign-up on her iPad and then we had trouble getting Tweetdeck set-up for her on her laptop. Partly my error as I'm not so familiar with PCs. Finally ready for the fun stuff: finding followers, adding columns of interest and writing a profile. I fell short. I wasn't aware of #scchat at the time so finding relevant counseling material was a challenge. And surprisingly, her face didn't light-up when I said she could actually follow @chrislehmann @willrich45 @angelamaiers and @alfiekohn. She did mention something about sewing as an interest but I just skipped over her attempt at making the tool relevant and tried again with @danpink and @debmeier. Still nothing.
Class ended. Although the other two participants were quite happy with their new learning, I had the counselor on my mind. I went home and did a few Twitter searches on sewing. WOW! I can barely sew a button but was amazed at all the cool information trending on sewing. I could see adding it to my list of hobbies. Why didn't I allow her to focus on her passion in class? She would have been hooked.
This experience brought up a few issues in prepping for my next class.
- Meet my students where their interests and passions lie when introducing Social Media. I cannot assume that passion is education. Just because I use Twitter just for "work" doesn't mean others will or should do the same.
- Having a list of the current educational hashtags is crucial.
Lastly, is there a possibility that (in 2014) most educators who are passionate about education are already connected, reading blogs, and use Twitter? Is there a purpose for teachers uninterested in education in general to develop PLNs? Or, will a powerful PLN develop an interest in education? Did I learn about so many educational giants via my PLN or vice versa? What comes first the chicken or the egg?