On The Thinking Stick blog, Jeff Utecht posed a few questions that I've been thinking about for at least a month now. In the article Jeff said:
Think about that for a minute. Is your social presence, your social network, worth something? Absolutely!Something's been bothering me lately. I am doing a lot of self development on my own time. I'm doing it for my personal benefit. No one is forcing me to do it. I actually love doing it. I am growing as an educator. My students are benefiting in so many ways.
So, what's bothering me?
In our building I just don't get the feeling that there would ever be an acknowledgment of the worth of my personal network. I'm usually hesitant to put my full first and last name on my Internet communications. I talk a lot about Internet safety with my students starting in an appropriate way in Kindergarten - every year - until they graduate eighth grade. I also do not include my image anywhere for the most part. I did, for a while, have my picture on Facebook until I read the following article in the Times (UK) Online. They said Facebook might use images on their web site in advertising.
I know there is a value in starting to use my name and image. When I went to Kean there were several people I met and "knew" already. I had seen their image and full name. I was a relative stranger to them because I am NJTechTeacher with a little hand drawn Gimp image.
Do I have less worth in my personal network for this reason? I wonder.
I have just past the 100 followers mark in Twitter - 101 to be exact. My ClustrMap as of today has an amazing amount of dots for having this blog's presence since just July 15th of this year. I've started some small global collaborative initiatives for my students with more to come.
How many people have jumped over to my school's web site because of my presence here? Probably a few. If they were looking for a Catholic school in the neighborhood, would they look there first? Maybe. This is my value at just five months into learning about personal learning networks. Imagine when I'm a year in...or two.
I started working at my school because my children attend it and I knew the potential for different kinds of learning through computers. I taught adults in business all of my professional life (15+ years or so). The K-8 school environment is still relatively new to me. Although, by next year, I will tie my longest run in a job record at seven years. I have a vested interest in making this the best experience possible for my children and by extension to the entire student body.
When it's time to move on, I know that I will have more to offer another school that I ever would without my personal learning network. I look forward to more conversations on this subject. I still have to read the entire recent article on Vicki Davis' Coolcatteacher blog. I'll probably revisit this topic again some time.