I have been sucked into the vortex of the internet– ahem, Twitter — and it’s a bit like finding myself in The Matrix. I’ve been online for last the last fifteen years and I thought I had a handle on it’s capabilities, but Web 2.0 is truly a new game. Like the Matrix, there is a whole new dimension. In broad terms, the world can make sense and things can connect in ways that can kind of bend your mind.
I registered with Twitter a couple years ago, but after a couple reviews of my timeline, I gave up; it was just too overwhelming. Then I attended the National Council for Social Studies Conference (NCSS) in DC this past November and decided to give it another try. I signed up as a teacher, followed only educators and news, and I was hooked. Most significally, I learned at least as much through my Twitter feed as I did at the conference– mostly from people at the conference or posting to people at the conference.
When I initially jumped onto Web 2.0- ahem, facebook— my goal was to keep my online identities private, and I have gone to great lengths to keep myself untraceable. In the last couple years, I used Web 2.0 technologies, but really launched into them this winter with multiple options for student choice. I then realized that I had to rethink my strategy. How do I ask students to engage in social media for the sake of learning and participating in the global conversation, if my voice in that conversation is absent? It seemed a bit hypocritcial.
Just like in real-life (a.k.a. IRL), I have to negotiate my own personal experiences and goals with my professional ones. I don’t hide from restaurants, or the mall, or grocery stores. I may bump into students and their families, but we say hello and respect that we each have a life outside of school. In fact, I enjoy seeing my students and their families out and about since it gives me a glimpse into a different part of who they are. And I like to think that they may feel the same.
Now, I realize that– though I’ve always felt somewhat on the curve when it came to technology– I did not exactly ride this new wave as it was coming in. But, here I am. And when I conscientiously looked at the situation, it seemed to make the most sense to deliberately put my professional identity out there.
So, in the Matrix, I am looking at things differently. I am approaching every online opportunity as a way to connect myself to other professionals and a way to connect my students to the content and skills that the internet has to offer. If I may apply some literary license to the words of JFK, I am following the motto, “Ask not what the internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the internet.” That means that I may limit my personal social experiences online, or that sometimes they may cross with my professional ones. But what I have gained in the last two months has already helped me to grow as a teacher and opened my students’ eyes to new ways to create and share their own learning (stay tuned for a future blog post on this).
Like many of the bloggers out there, I need a space to reflect, process, and share. And because I love to write, this blog seemed to be a natural next step. There are lots more risks for me to take, and I hope you will take the risk to come back and read more.