Friday, December 14, 2007

Let Your Presence Be Known...Continued

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.


  1. I can relate only too well! As an itinerant assistive tech consultant, I'm in and out of many schools in 6 districts. The kind of online professional networking I do is a totally foreign concept to the vast majority of educators I work with. I find it frustrating to draw blank stares almost every time I refer to it. I wonder how long we will remain "early adopters". By the way, I found your blog via Twitter. Someone there mentioned you, and I followed the lead. Glad I did! I like the way this kind of networking expands like ripples in a pond.

  2. Hey Ann--Just this week I had things exciting happen to me that only those in my network could appreciate. I was mentioned in 3 blogs, 2 giving me a pingback, then an invite from karl fisch to participate in a school proj w/ his 9th graders, followed by an acceptance to present (in a panel group) for necc. i was on cloud nine all week, and very few in my own school or even immediate family could understand the source of elation.

  3. Go for it Ann, give us your name and picture. I hesitated like you, but finally gave in to make myself more visible to my network of colleagues. As you know, there are a lot of safeguards built into the environments where we collaborate. You have to be watchful and prudent, but it's like taking a trip to the Big Apple. Tap the richness, avoid compromising situations.

    Time will come when the rest of our colleagues will follow.

    You are leading the way. Nice to be your online neighbor.

    Dennis Richards

  4. @Paul- I'm glad you stopped by. Looking forward to more conversations!

    @Cathy- I can see why your on cloud nine. You had an amazing week. It's nice to be able to share it with people who appreciate it. Can't wait to learn more about the school project.

    @Dennis- Thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to work on a more public persona over the next few weeks. I like your analogy of a trip to NYC. I'm aware of where I am, but don't have a fear of going there. I look forward to our continued understanding of this online world. I'm glad I met you along the way.

  5. You're not alone, Ann. I'm grateful that you're a part of my personal learning network. Simply because our organizations just don't get it, that's alright...people make up organizations and it's bound to work in your favor soon.

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner

  6. Miguel - Thanks for the note. I am coming to believe that this blog is a step in the right direction to connect with other like-minded people. I'm learning so much and am able to pass more on to my students by extension. That's really what counts in the long run, right?