Sunday, November 6, 2011

Communicating & Connecting with Social Media

My head is still spinning from 3 days' worth of sessions at Solution Tree's AuthorSpeak in Indianapolis this past week. I will be posting my thoughts and reactions to the sessions I attended in hopes I can pay homage to the fantastic author-presenters I saw and as a way to connect those educators who were unable to attend to some of the information and resources.

 The first session I want to share is around the book Communicating & Connecting with Social Media by authors Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) and Jason Ramsden(@raventech). I almost skipped this presentation. I consider myself to be reasonably well along the technology uses spectrum in personal, professional and instructional uses of technology.  I figured I needed to see presentations that pushed or challenged my thinking rather than going to one that I knew I was going to agree with everything said.  But I kept heading back to this choice, in no small part because I was curious to see some of my twitter heroes in person.  As it turns out, the session was interesting, challenging and gave me some new great ideas for ways our school and district should be promoting their image.

About Twitter
This session focused mainly on professional uses of social media in education; for learning, sharing and getting the positive word out on our work and our schools.  I have been using Twitter for over a year but seem to go through bouts of furious tweeting followed by droughts of nothingness for sometimes months at a time, depending on how crazy my schedule at school is - and honestly, when DOES the school year slow down?  It doesn't.

Think of the 17-year locust - on a smaller scale, my contributions and consumption of social media goes through more famine than feast.  What I liked about the presentation were the concrete ways in which social media can contribute to our learning, why building learning networks and communities outside of our own schools is so important and the message that if we don't promote our own good news, someone else is going to do it for us and probably in a negative light - to get control of our  message, we have to have a message out there (#ihtech; IHMSHeybruch).

The beauty of social media is that it "redistributes" expertise - the voice is truly with the collective rather than in single traditional forces of media. This should be an empowerment - to every educator - to get the positive things that are happening in your classroom each day out to parents, community members and other educators.  Thanks to the model set by some amazing voices for educational reform, I plan to be a more "balanced" contributor to the cyber and concrete worlds we now inhabit.  Plus, you have to love that typing in less than 140 characters at once makes it feasible to contribute on a regular basis.  What will you do to be a positive change agent in your school, community and twitterverse?

Check out the book by Bill, Eric and Jason for more great ideas on how to use social media to broaden your PLN.

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