Five months in Twitterspace….is it worth it?

Captains log….

It is now five months since I decided to take the plunge and give Twitter a go for professional social networking so in this months blog I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts and progress to date.

I was already networking socially with friends using facebook and I had previously signed up for a twitter account but just didn’t get it! The reason: I wasn’t following many people, no-one was following me and I hadn’t worked out what I was going to use the 140 twitter characters for.

In my first blog “Getting started with Twitter”, I mentioned attending a session by @craigtaylor74 who helped me on my way by suggesting I follow the people he followed. I did and started to “lurk”, quickly realising the benefits – I was building a network of writers, thinkers, learning professionals, experts and novices with whom I had a shared interest – a passion for learning and technology.

As my “following” network grows, I have access to a vast amount of information that I can sift through using favourites to mark the ones I want to view/keep. Having signed up and lurked for a while I started to contribute mainly through retweets and social tweets until I started blogging in March 2011 at which point I finally had my own content to share. I have to admit that it did take a while to press send on my first few tweets and once I did I immediately suffered a sweaty palm moment wondering if I would get a response and if I did would it be positive or negative!

Once you have tweeted and retweeted a few times you do get braver and recently I looked at my tweets and thought “350+, how did that happen? My initial anxed has obviously waned!”

I am making some great relationships online and was fortunate to meet several of these at a recent face to face event. The support I have received from the twitter community has helped build my online confidence to the extent that last week I participated in my first live twitter chat as part of  the e-learning network #elnil.

The people involved in the #elnil chat were very encouraging and welcoming. Even though I couldn’t stay for the whole session I contributed to the first question and saw the power of this tool for connecting en mass with others in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  Participating in this live event helped me see in practice how Twitter can be used to support group learning/discussion.

Even five months into this, I still class myself more as a “lurker” and apparently there is nothing wrong with this.  However, having recently read a blog by @denniscallahan called “Joining is important to social learning” I am motivated to contribute and participate more even if it is just in a small way so that I can give something back to the community.

If you are just starting out or have been lurking for a while try to take the next step. You might not think you have anything to share (I was the same) but I am sure you have! If you are hesitating about starting this journey on your own find friends/colleagues that can join with you or connect with people that you know are already online. They will provide invaluable support if you need it.

I have been fortunate in finding a group of friends online that were taking the plunge around the same time as me. We support each other and use the hashtag #bloggingimprovers. The group members are @kategraham23 @niallgavinuk @MandyRG and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all personally for their support. I’d also like to thank @craigtaylor74 @dames20 @mikecollins007 and @Burrough for their ongoing online communication, everyone I follow for their contributions and all my followers for sticking with me. You are all part of my personal learning journey and it is worth it!!! (….and no there wasn’t an Oscar or a BAFTA in sight prompting that little thank you speech!!).


This learning technologies thing….I am getting it now!

villagers joining in the fun

Dalton Parva Village Street Party, 30 Apr 2011

A Right Royal Doo!

So you would have to be pretty remote and cut off not to have not seen at least some mention of the right royal wedding yesterday!

Following my twitter feeds I could see a mixed bag of those who would be following and those that had no interest whatsoever.  I however, looked forward to the day and the chance to join a couple of friends in a small Rotherham village, Dalton Parva to celebrate the festivities at their street party. 

The majority of villagers came out despite the windy and cold conditions and joined in the fun, bouncy castle, hog roast and bunting galore.  This was my first visit to the village but it wasn’t long before I felt like a local as a result of the villagers being so warm, welcoming and social.

My right royal reflections….

Returning home that evening I began to reflect and considered not only how great the face to face socialising had been but also how great it had been to use technology throughout the day to link in with friends across the world. 

Through Twitter I enjoyed following and participating in the banter between my followers and the people I follow. 

Through YouTube I could access a multitude of video clips posted by people from everywhere capturing the day.

With Facebook I connected with friends across the world whose comments and pictures showed me how they were celebrating the day. I also used it to share a story board of my own pictures and to connect with the new friends I had made.

Later reflections (at the point I was planning to go to sleep!) found me thinking through how I had used technology on this day to capture the event,  how this experience had enriched my own personal learning technologies journey and how I really could start using the technologies more to support my workplace learning.  I recognised how very little I am actively encouraged during learning events to capture the day, reflect on this and share my learning with others.

I thought about the times at the beginning of a face to face event where I had been asked to switch off my phone.  What if I hadn’t been asked to do this and instead encouraged to leave my phone on?  I could capture the day in pictures and video and use twitter/facebook/youtube and/or my blog to share my learning story.  I could connect with the other learners on the course to build up my online network and through this further continue my learning to develop beyond the event. I could build on this to share my ongoing experiences of how I was applying this learning into the workplace and the value this added.

It was a restless night reflecting on this right royal event but before I finally dropped off I thought, “… know what….I am getting  it now….the potential of this learning technologies thing!!”  I don’t need to be encouraged by anybody else to capture and share my story – I can take responsibility and do this myself!  I can however, actively encourage the learners in my community and beyond to give these technologies a go; to capture and share their own stories and join in with like-minded friends and colleagues across the world committed to doing the same.

It is still a relatively short time since I started making the effort to use technologies such as facebook, twitter, youtube and wordpress as learning tools but now that I have made them part of my daily life I am learning something new and valuable every single day.

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet….DO…it is worth it!