Social Network Learning: A Reflection

image art for reflection4-page-001I find it interesting that the class I expected to learn the least in is the one that has enriched me the most. Such has been my journey this semester in EdTech 543 Social Network Learning.

We’ve all got the first two words down – it’s that last one: learning. This course has opened my eyes to the powerful learning tool that social media and social networking can be. I’ll try to sum things up with a few before-and-after glimpses of what I have learned to help paint a better picture.

Before: Twitter is for people who have a lot of time on their hands and want to follow celebrities or make political statements. What could I possibly have to say in 140 characters?
After: Twitter is a resource so versatile and powerful that it can be used in the classroom and for painless professional development. I’ve truly been converted, as shown in Twitter Power. In just two months I have found dozens of helpful resources. I found out about the Global Education Conference and actually presented two sessions. Each time I check Twitter I walk away feeling enlightened and inspired.

Before: Pinterest is a much-too-pretty time-waster for people who love to cook and craft
After: Many educators use Pinterest in remarkable and creative ways to curate resources, share ideas, and enlighten students. My two boards so far (My Personal Learning Environment and EdTech Spotlight: Resources Educators Should Try) have strengthened my digital footprint and inspired me to create more.

Before: No one really cares what I have to say
After: It is my digital duty to contribute academic and sound content to the cyberspace knowledge cloud. My Periodic Table of Connectivism was picked up on Twitter, Scoop.It, and various blogs and websites. I still get dozens of views on it weekly. My presentation  My Digital Footprint and PLN currently has over 3,000 views on Slideshare since I created it two months ago. I’ve used it as the backbone for a huge presentation proposal I’ve submitted to an international conference. Point? Educators, professionals, and students are looking for specific content and topics and appreciate well-researched resources.

Before: Social networking really means Facebook
After: I am amazed at how many social networking tools that can be used for specific learning purposes. My Personal Learning Environment has grown immensely in this course. I’ve developed my personal brand and identity on Learnist, Classroom 2.0, Pinterest, Slideshare, Edmodo, and updated several other profiles on sites I’ve been using for a long time. I’m consistent and intentional in what I put out there.

Before: Social network learning is used interchangeably with social media and social networking
After: I ended up writing my very dense EdTech 504 paper on Social Network Learning: Supporting Theory and Framework. Social network learning is about learning in connected ways. It’s deep and powerful. Social media are the tools that facilitate this connection, and social networking involves using these tools to find new connections. The focus of this class has been on the learning.

I could go on. I’ve developed a social media acceptable use policy. I’ve created an infographic representing my Personal Learning Environment. I’ve created a MOOC prototype. I’ve communicated, connected, and collaborated with my peers spread across dozens of time zones through Facebook, Moodle, and Google Docs. I’ve received beneficial instruction and feedback from my professor Jackie Gerstein, who lives what she preaches and lives it well.

My digital life is deeper, richer, and more meaningful – and it’s only just begun!

Photos at top used under Flickr Creative Commons from the yes man and Anja Jonsson

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