My wife asked me recently, “So, who is this person?” My response was a nonchalant, “Oh, someone I met on the internet.” Not so long ago, the phrase “someone I met on the internet” was likely only a scary and problematic thing between spouses.
Angry spouse, “What, you’re leaving me? For who?!”
Other spouse, “Someone I met on the internet. We met in a Star Wars chat room. She is the Princess Leia to my Han Solo.”
This certainly was not the case between my wife (also a Twitterite @ompeace and blogger) and me. My “someone on the internet” is actually two fellow Wisconsin principals I connected with over Twitter and with whom I plan to do state presentations with this fall and winter (Jessica Johnson and Jay Posick). We first connected through Twitter and then our “relationship” progressed to emails and then writing presentation proposals via shared Google Docs.
I often hear people talking about 21st Century Skills and the importance of students and staff using iPads, Flip Cams (RIP), IWBs, etc. What these people are overlooking are the skills themselves–mainly, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Technology itself won’t advance your professional practice on its own. It’s the connectedness that is enabled by the technology that will help you reach out to like-minded educators.
Just in the past few weeks I’ve gained so much from the experience and knowledge of fellow educators I’ve found through Twitter and blogs. I’ve learned the pros/cons when comparing Nooks, Kindles, and PanDigital e-readers. I’ve learned some of the intracies of the rules for spending Common School Funds when considering making a technology purchase. I’ve been led to a bunch of great literacy intervention resources that have been used successfully by other educators. I’ve learned a lot about how political policy greatly influences what we do on a daily basis in the world of education and then how to influence those politicians who make those policies. Finally I’ve learned that there are thousands upon thousands of educators who care greatly about their students and their profession and have a desire to better their craft each day.
So go out there and find your special someone on the internet. Read their tweets and blog posts, but make sure you interact with questions, compliments, and challenges. You’ll be glad you did.