Networked Thinking

All three of my presentation here at ETC09 continue to hit on the point of creating a PLN you can trust and find ways to use. It’s so powerful…..but it’s hard to explain just how powerful of a learning tool it is without having people really get in there and get their hands dirty.

So today I found a new use for my PLN. Every time I try something this like I’m amazed at the help and response I continue to receive from educators around the world who are willing to jump and help out at the drop of a hat.

So here’s the story of today:

Although Borneo is amazing their Internet connection is…well…should we say inconsistent and slow. It’s up and down, completely unreliable, and frustrating to say the least. The one service that seems to run without fail is Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s the small packet size or what but Twitter continues to run while the rest of the web comes to a screeching halt (I never that we’d see that happen!).

So this morning I’m preparing for my presentation and go to edit the wiki page I had created for my “Digital Tools for Digital Educators” session. The Internet was running really slow and with only two hours to go before my presentation I was getting worried that I wouldn’t have anything preloaded.

So I used the one tool that worked….Twitter. I sent out a call to anyone with a good Internet connection to please go and add a must have tool for educators. An hour later I have enough tools to fill my 90 minute session and then some. Complete with YouTube how-to videos, examples of use in the classroom, and much more.

http://etc2009.wetpaint.com/page/Digital+Tools

Now I’m part of this network, and I understand that this is exactly how it’s suppose to work, but it still amazes me! I started my presentation today in a room of 50+ educators by thanking educators around the world who two hours before had just created my presentation. I talked about how this came to be and just how amazing this was going to be that these 50 people were actually being taught by teachers around the world…..I just happened to be the voice for them all.

It was great to see people coming up to a whiteboard that was in the room and writing down the names of those who have twitter accounts here at the conference as they start to build their own network. During one of my sessions yesterday I asked those on Twitter to please write their Twitter handles on the board to help others start their PLN. It was a great example of how a PLN can be used to created content through connections.

In my first session I shared a quote with the group that came from a Vanity Fair article entitled: How the Web was Won. A fantastic look at the history of the Internet.

We thought communities trumped content. ~Steve Case (1985)

How interesting that even before the web as we know it today was created that the founders of what would become The Web already knew that what these connections allowed were communities and in the long run it would be these communities that made The Web so powerful.

I believe that’s what this little story of mine shows. Sure the content is there, but it’s the community that was the important part. And not just any community, but a community of people who live in a “nearly now” space. Which is the true power of Twitter. If I would have posted this on my blog it never would have happened. Without the community I would not have had the content. The connection with people lead to an amazing opportunity for people here on an island in the South Pacific to learn. An opportunity for them to learn from educators around the world. My job was simply to display and point people to the collective resources.

Thank you to everyone who helped me out with this presentation. I hope someday I can return the favor.