Yesterday I attended a social media workshop in neighboring SD #73 (Kamloops). This was, for me, a follow up to the Digital Learning Spring Conference and a chance to deepen my learning around notions of digital citizenship for Masters studies. It was also a great opportunity to connect with other educators in my PLN. Special thanks to Cale Birks (@birklearns) for arranging so that I was able to attend!
It was incredible to watch the presenter, George Couros, once again manage to encourage the attendees to the point that many opened up to begin to trust social media. At the start of the day, there were four of us, including George, on Twitter. By the end of the morning, several new tweeters were contributing to the #kamloopsgc hashtag and as the day went on, I noticed the presence of many educators exploring social media, either for the first time or with a new perspective.
As in Vancouver last month, the highlight for me was a chance to connect with like-minded educators, especially those I’d only ‘met’ online via social media. I had the chance to visit with George, whom I’d first met at the Digital Learning Spring Conference. George introduced me to Cale, who introduced me to others. Probably the neatest connection was to Tracy Poelzer (@SD73Techie), the District Tech Coordinator for SD#73. We’ve followed one another on Twitter for quite some time and, at the start of the day, did the “Hey, where are you sitting?” tweets, which led to a wave across the room and, finally, a face to face meeting at coffee. Turns out, though, that I’d seen Tracy speak several times in April at the Regional Science Fair in Kamloops when I attended as a parent with my son. It was really neat to have that extra connection to make an already positive introduction that much more meaningful.
There were maybe 150 in attendance for the morning workshop and, from my viewpoint, many seemed unsure of social media at the start of the day. There were numerous concerns about how to even integrate technology into schools. By the end of the morning, however, there was a hopeful buzz in the room and by the end of the day there was evidence that practice had changed.
I left with some unanticipated questions. The overall experience left me wondering about those in the room who engage in social media and technology on a daily basis. What is it about these ‘like-minded’ educators I’m meeting through social media? Why are we alike? Why do we, if you think of the group as a unique cohort, a subsection of educators, engage with technology the way we do and embed it into our practice?
I know my answer, and I think it’s the same answer many of my PLN would offer – that we need to because it’s the world our students are growing up in. Is that the common thread that connects us – our related awareness of, and comfort level within, the larger learning environment that our students are growing up within? Or is it that we’re challenge-loving risk-takers who don’t mind pushing outside of our comfort zone to engage with tools and environments that are uncertain and sometimes overwhelming? Simply a contemporary group of overachievers? I’m not certain yet, but I’d love to figure out what’s creating the connection.