Every now and then I find myself saying
“uh, I tweet…mostly about work stuff, ya know…mm hmm well you might be surprised how rich it can be…no, it’s not all vapid gossip and insults, there are multiple twitterverses I guess you could say?…yeah, well anyway, basically I’m a pretty active member of what’s called an online PLN”
or something to that effect, and the thought occurs to me that it’s a hopelessly minimal description of what I actually mean.
So I’m going to write a list of some of the things that lie beyond it:
- Reading maybe hundreds of tweets per day by/for/about teaching, training, professional issues, materials, critical issues, language and linguistics, critical incidents, and more.
- Responding to many of those tweets and occasionally getting involved in ongoing debates and discussions with the authors and other readers of those tweets.
- Reading several blogs per day by/for/about teaching, training, professional issues, materials, critical issues, language and linguistics, critical incidents, and more.
- Occasionally commenting on those blogs and sometimes getting involved in ongoing debates and discussions with the authors and other readers of those blogs.
- So, being in near-constant dialogue with teachers, trainers, academics and other ELT workers all over the world about any number of ELT issues both large and small.
- Following the hashtags of ELT conferences whenever and wherever they occur, getting smartly selected bite-sized glimpses into sometimes several sessions simultaneously and thus keeping up to date with thinking and trends in the field
- Writing a blog, responding to comment from readers, posting varied types of things including vlogs, journals, interviews, sometimes lists like this one, sometimes lists like this one that include trippy self-referential bits just like this, and rarely but it happens shallowdivey pop-culturally related GIFS like the one below to break the monotony.
- Building an extensive, high-quality reading file of articles and other materials linked and/or referred to by tweeters and bloggers in the course of all of the above.
- Having a(nother) network of professional and personal connections via this PLN that plugs into multiple aspects of the complex task of attending conferences (from where to stay to how to engage socially to keeping tabs on each other to knowing better how things work behind curtains, etc.).
- Being one of the people that livetweets from conferences allowing others to receive smartly selected bite-sized glimpses into sessions thus keeping up to date with thinking and trends in the field
- Attending webinars and organizing/hosting webinars.
- Attending live chats about teaching, training, professional issues, materials, critical issues, language and linguistics, critical incidents, and more, volunteering as moderator of chats, writing chat summaries, reading past chat summaries.
- Following, contributing to, and creating ELT-focused hashtags to flag and filter extremely niche interest areas fed into by PLN members with similar tastes.
- Listening to several ELT podcasts and occasionally conversing on twitter or elsewhere on issues raised therein with their creators and/or listeners.
- Conversing productively with peers about working conditions in ways that can be extremely difficult to do locally.
- Giving personal and emotional support of various types to professional peers via this PLN and receiving personal and emotional support of various types from professional peers via this PLN.
- Being informed of and offered professional opportunities by members of this PLN.
- Using these various trusted web and social media platforms populated by trusted PLN people as resources for students to engage and interact with both indirectly and directly.
- Actually, list can go on but I have to go grocery shopping.
It’s a pretty long list already though, isn’t it?
And it’s almost as if, by “being on twitter”, one is not wasting time on the internet at work. No, not at all. Hey boss, go ahead and monitor my computer usage, I dare you! You may be TRULY shocked by what you find. You may wonder why I’ve not been promoted yet…;D
I found myself trying to describe it to Michael Griffin just this morning and saying something like:
when it’s really working it kind of all flows together and feels not at all unlike a fully cohesive bricks and mortar PD experience…as if I’m at this great ELT conference, right? going to sessions, chatting between, building up dialogues, sharing, connecting, and networking, joking, laughing…but it’s futuristic: this seemingly endless conference is actually a holographic brain-stem VR program run via a microchip implant behind my ear. The chip is the ELT internets. Conference fees are zero, and the conference hotel is your apartment. (Food you pay for – yeah, it’s the grocery shopping you’re about to go do).
Anyhoo, does it feel similar to you? Ever/sometimes? Do you ever experience ‘flow’ in the PLN, a sense of getting ‘wired in‘ to the extent that it sparks efficient, effective learning from the rich input and facilitates high-yield engagement with PLN peers?