In response to Social Networking - Talk can cost nothing if you know where to look Published in TES Magazine on 17 October, 2008, By: Terry Freedman
This morning I followed Terry Freedman's intriguing tweet that promised an "article about social networking for teachers." I was pleasantly surprised to find that the article went far beyond social networking to describe a 21st century invitation to participate in educator professional development. I was moved to respond because, as a self-directed learner, my invitation to the online social learning experience was the gateway to the most effective form of professional development I've yet to experience.
Terry recommends a variety of powerful tools for personal professional development including Twitter, Skype, Ning and instant messaging. As always, he is point perfect. I'd like to add one additional plug, however, for a form of continuing professional development that supports and sustains my own 21st century thinking and learning in unique and immeasurable ways. Reading and writing blogs immersed me as an active participant in the world of online 21st century learning! In fact, I have discovered in blogging the ultimate tool for differientiating my own professional learning path! I meticulously customize and refine my personal Blog Roll and regularly adjust feeds to my Google Reader! I use a unique filtering process designed to be beneficial to ME! I learn so much from reading the blogs (and microblogs) of selected colleagues - whom I choose with great care and after a careful background check. My process of blog selection is so selective, so dynamic, and so personal that my learning path is tweeked and adjusted to my specific learning needs on a daily basis. I owe so much to my incredible "learning network!" I am growing in leaps and bounds because I made a decision to accept an invitation to participate fully in 21st century teaching and learning!
I realize that discovering the benefits of blogging is not new to many people. I understand that I'm simply "riding the high" of my new-found power to learn. While exhilarated, I'm also challenged to guide a process through which educators can self-direct in the discovery of Web 2.0 tools for their own personal professional development. This challenge is really tricky. It is far more difficult than preparing for a traditional workshop in which captive participants occupy seats and mark time. This type of professional development is an open invitation to learn. The invitation has an RSVP, which acknowledges that the guest has the privilege of saying, "I Regret." I understand and believe Carl Roger's premise that “The only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning." I know I have to give each educator the "right to regret" my invitation to learn. I just worry that the many of those who are invited to participate in 21st century teaching and learning do not REALLY UNDERSTAND the extent to which they will regret not participating in the learning revolution.