I think one of the best things about being a connected learner/educator (and I count myself as both - I am learning so much) is the global connections I am able to make. I am building my Twitter network, working towards regular blog posts and avidly reading and following the blogs of other educators. I also belong to a couple of nings (links in sidebar). Twitter for me really has been the most powerful social networking tool. I know I have probably said it before, but it really has made a huge difference to me, both personally and professionally. When I try to explain what it is to others I tend to get funny looks or comments like, "Well what's the point?" I am also aware that there are some out there in cyber space who also see little value in it.
Those I follow through Twitter are all educators and this is where it really works for me. I am able to follow, share with, learn from and connect with like minded others in a form of self driven PD. Twitter has broadened my knowledge of the educational potential available through net based 2.0 tools. I can see what others are doing with their classes and even organise for my children to participate in global collaborative projects.
Last night was a perfect example of why Twitter works for me. My class are soon to be producing video commercials for their "Advertising Me" unit and I was searching for useful ways to teach them about camera angles. I put out a tweet asking if anyone knew of any sites or resources - I figured that maybe someone would see and I might get a reply. In a matter of minutes I'd had responses from several people, for a range of different sites relating to my query. I was stoked! needless to say, my class had a wonderful time today exploring the links and developing a really solid understanding of terms like close up, mid shot, panning, worms eye view, etc.
The second neat thing (well for me anyway) that occurred last night came just as I was thinking about closing the laptop and trotting off to bed. Suzie Vesper and Sujokat both sent out tweets asking if anyone wanted to try out WiZiQ. I didn't even know what it was but thought ,"why not?" What followed was half an hour of mirth, merriment and good old fashioned fun as we played with this. It was neat to hear people's voices, especially as they are all people I "talk"(read as type/write) to online, but have never met in person. I also got an opportunity to explore a tool for collaboration and presentations that I would other wise have had no knowledge of . My mind is already churning over the possibilities - I even jokingly suggested to another teacher this morning that you could teach from home if you were sick as you'd be able to hear the class, talk to them, share files with them and write up info for them. They could do the same for you at home. (Don't worry I'm not quite that bad...yet!)
The net result of my experiences last night was that while I got a few hours less sleep then I should have, I had expanded my horizons, made connections, interacted with others and felt a real sense of community and belonging.