Before you read through this post try one thing: Google yourself. What do you see? Do you like what you see? For some of you that will have been an eye-opening experience for others you already knew what to expect. Perhaps it revealed things that you thought were long-lost in your history or maybe the person that popped up simply isn’t you.
Having an online presence helps empower you to have a voice to an audience bigger than you could ever imagine. If you don’t embrace your voice and identity others will shape it for you or things you never thought others see will be what will start to represent you online. The more educational voices there are online the more we can do to counteract the negative stereotypes people may have of educational systems and teachers.
As a professional it is important to have an online presence because at one point or another “You will be Googled”. Before I go to a conference I usually Google the speakers and topics they will be speaking on. I like to know who I am going to see and to figure out if the topic they are presenting on is of interest to me. Before I apply for a job I look through the prospective employers digital footprint to see if they are a good fit for me. I hope the same is true of employers and that they check digital footprints.
Your digital identity is yours to shape.
Your presence should fit your purpose. Context matters. Some like to keep it strictly professional while others like to mix in bits of their personal narratives with what they share with the world.
Reasons to join the online education community:
There is a growing community of educators embracing their digital identities and joining various services like: Twitter, Google+ etc. The online education community has worked hard to build a culture of improving practice by being exposed to a wide variety of ideas and resources. The sharing of ideas ranges from sharing links, blogging or engaging in online chats about educational topics.
These online communities have also allowed people to form Positive support networks something that may be lacking in some workplaces. As a rookie teachers it is nice to know that some of the things you go through are completely normal and not to give up. Some days you really do need some kind words to lift you up and help re-inspire you. These networks can also help you collect resources that would have taken hours to collect on your own. Try sending out a request for resources on an educational Twitter hashtag and you will more often than not will be pleasantly surprised.
These communities also allow for respectful professional dialogue to occur on a daily basis. The beauty of the online community is that it breaks down barriers and allows our different educational worlds collide. Principals, teachers, counsellors, school board members and educational theorists are all able to discuss and share ideas. These connections help change paradigms and change thinking around different topics. It can also reinforce things that we are unsure of and help us grow in confidence professionally. These conversations are important to have as a whole profession because classroom demographics and society are changing. These changes are happening fast and we need to come up with creative solutions for many of the challenges we face as a global society. It’s not all kumbaya in these debates there is real open dialogue happening – no need to tear anyone down for the thoughts and ideals they hold.
Having a positive online presence allows you to be a model for digital citizenship in your own classroom. How do you teach digital citizenship without actually practicing it? If you can walk the walk then you are able to talk the talk. Which is more powerful: showing your students a short video clip about commenting etiquette or to show them examples of how you comment online?
With your voice and presence you can help us refine ideas, change paradigms and hopefully make our educational community stronger.
Oh yes… and I would be remiss to mention that @MissLwbt is someone I have connected with through the wonderful world of Twitter and Blogging. We have met once but routinely bounce ideas off of each other and push each others thinking. Twitter Changes Lives.
Related links and articles:
Knowmad Society – Book that tackles the changing landscape of learning and work in our ever globalizing world.
Presentation By Bonnie Stewart: Digital Identity: Who are we in Networked Publics.
Who Controls Teachers’ Professional Learning by Joe Bower
Education to Advocacy. Reflections on #etmooc by Jeff Merrell
How Social Media Sharing Makes The World a Better Place. By Kay Bisaillon