I remember being in the classroom when social media started really gaining momentum. Students were raving about MySpace. I didn’t get it: why share your life with the world? I created an account but didn’t really do anything with it.
As I learned more about technology integration I became aware of how many tools and resources that were available to connect with others. I joined Facebook and Twitter in the same year. I took off and ran with Facebook: it was a way to connect with family and friends that are all over the world. Twitter was something that I just let simmer. A bit later I joined LinkedIn because you just had to be part of a professional network. My life is dotted with other networks that share reviews and ratings from food to books and everything in between. I can’t imagine a life without being digitally connected.
The root of social networking is making connections. My first engagements were just that: social sharing about my life and family in the context of sharing with my friends. This evolved into more of that social sharing of ratings and recommendations, finding out what others thought before trying a new place to eat or looking for a book recommendation. Obviously if my friends weighed in, their opinions mattered more than other uses because I knew them.
My largest personal growth with Social Sharing has come within the past two years where I have turned to my networks seeking information. I spend more effort and time in LinkedIn reviewing relevant educational technology contributions. Through Twitter I have virtually attended several conferences this year, as presenters were tweeting information. The resources and tips I have gathered have helped me grow as an educational professional. I am still using social networks to stay connected, but this real-time professional connection has allowed me to learn something new every day.
Have you had a similar experience with social networking? Where do you connect with other professionals?