This post is part of a series of observations and themes gained from my trip to the ISTE conference in San Diego.
A big theme at ISTE this year was social media, particularly PLNs, for teachers. On Saturday, Steve Hargadon hosted an “unconference” for bloggers and social media users in education. While I was not able to participate for the entire day, it was clear from the time I was there that the folks in the room (about 100) were all in when it came to using social media. Discussions did not center around what to use or how to use it, but mostly about how to get more people connected, and to bridge the negative stigma still present in the general public.
In all of the other sessions I attended (disclaimer: I did tend to gravitate toward online-based topics), the discussion eventually led to teachers building personal learning networks through Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo, blogs, or other social sites.
The big observation was that most of the attendees used Twitter as a business card. When meeting new people, instead of exchanging names or email, they almost exclusively exchanged Twitter handles. Furthermore, I observed at least a dozen interactions where the people meeting visited each other’s Twitter page while visiting, and commented on it. It was easy to see the power of Twitter to assist teachers in staying connected.
My favorite part of the conference was meeting, in person, people whom I follow religiously on Twitter and other sites. The face-to-face interactions that resulted were far more genuine, as I already had a feel for who they were already, and in many case, then knew a bit about me as well.
Without a doubt, the online PLN is a crucial step in the development of people in education today, and I look forward to seeing it utilized more as time goes on.
Next: Flipping over the flipped classroom at ISTE12