My name is Beth Still and I am one of the lucky people that Wes asked to guest blog this week while he is taking a well deserved vacation with his family. I wrote this post which focuses on social networking for Leadership Day 2009. I hope this example sparks some conversation.

The first time I heard of Leadership Day was last year. I had only just started blogging and felt like there was not much I could contribute. When I saw Scott McLeod’s post on it this year I felt like I might have something to add to the conversation. I spent hours thinking of something brilliant to say, but there were no flashes of inspiration. Then it hit me! Administrators need to know more about the benefits of social networking and how it can be used to help their teachers stay on top of the latest developments and trends in education.

I started developing my personal learning network (PLN) in April 2008. I joined the NECC Ning and immediately started making connections with people who were attending the National Educational Educating Computing Conference in San Antonio. I also joined Twitter and that is when I really saw my PLN grow. It was not long before I was making true connections with people around the world. There are a few people in my PLN that I work so closely with that I feel like we are coworkers.

In April I decided to test the power of my favorite social networking site, Twitter. I wanted to see if it was possible for the few hundred people in my network to work together to do something good for someone. I decided to ask for donations to help send a teacher to NECC. I asked Richard Byrne to be to the “newbie” and he gladly agreed. Within two weeks we met the $1500 goal. My plan had worked!

Stop and think for a minute about the implications that this has on learning. I am a teacher in rural western Nebraska who was able to make a difference because of my personal learning network. I was able to help send a teacher from Maine to a technology conference in Washington DC. People who knock social networking need to hear this story.

Can you imagine a student at your school harnessing the power of Twitter to change the world? I would like to ask you to start looking into the positive aspect of social networking. Teachers and students who are networked have so many more learning opportunities each day. No less than 99% of my professional learning takes place on Twitter. Before you totally write off what social networking can do in your schools for your teachers and students, please take some time to explore what it means to those of us who rely on it every day.

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2 Responses to Benefits of Social Networking

  1. Jason Schrage says:

    Great post Beth! I agree that social networking is empowering people to make a difference in the world and is a great opportunity for professional development.

    I might add that if the staff within a building start using a social networking service it could contribute to team building and knowledge sharing that may have not been there previously. An administrator could quickly send out a reminder, ask a question or conduct an on the fly informal survey to better meet the needs of all the staff. Social networking within a building could also lead to more interdisciplinary projects – now time strapped teachers with varying schedules can have a conversation and plan through out the day without filling up their inbox or interrupting class time. Lets not forget those faculty meetings – If staff are updated throughout the week the faculty meetings could be shorter or more focused on having conversations about “the important things” and not just announcing the date and time of the next state assessment.

    I think if administrators create more opportunities for their staff to have real authentic conversions that would in turn lead to better teaching and ultimately help our students become better learners.

  2. Cheryl Oakes says:

    Oh Beth, what a perfect example. I am so glad you were able to send Richard and I got to meet him. I will be looking to join your Twitter network because of this post!

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