Have you ever felt like you made a bad decision about when to indulge in some new trend? For me, it was the shearling suede boot fad. Granted, in Texas, we don’t get much cold weather, but when I finally caught a knock-off pair at an irresistible sale price, I couldn’t believe how warm and wonderful they were. I didn’t want to take them off. Why had I waited so long?
In our professional lives, we see a lot of trends come and go. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll see old things come back in as the latest educational innovation, with a new name and slightly different spin. And then you’ll see those things that can’t last because they just aren’t sustainable. Sometimes you’re the smart one for not being quick to jump on the latest bandwagon. However, this may not always be the case.
I’m speaking today to those of you who are not quick to try new things. Let Mikey or someone else try it first. I don’t have time to be the beta tester. I’ll wait until they work out the kinks, then I’ll give it a try. The innovation I’m talking about is Twitter and its use as a Personal Learning Network. I know so many great educators who have ignored it for a long time thinking they were protecting their privacy by choosing to refrain from social media and most likely saving themselves time. Why do I care what Ashton Kutcher is up to today? I can tell you what’s trending by listening to the kids’ conversations in my library. Hashtag sounds like some name for a theft prevention device. Sound familiar?
I’d like to tell those of you who were waiting for others to figure it out before they tried it–that time is here. Twitter has been a preeminent place that educators have built their Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs. Personal Learning Networks are one of the best ways that technology has improved collaboration. If you have put your toe in the water, but haven’t jumped in yet, or if you haven’t even created an account yet, it’s not too late! If you act now you’ll even be ready by Monday when the Newbery and other awards are announced at during the Youth Media Award announcements at ALA Mid-Winter. Ever follow a conference virtually by its hashtag? It’s an amazing experience!
If you need more incentive to get started with your PLN, does it help to know that already more than half of us report that we interact weekly sharing professional ideas with others online? This infographic has some great statistics that might encourage you if you’re still on the fence. Not sure where to start? I love Kathy Schrock’s curated sites of basic help for all things online for librarians and educators. Check out the “Guide to PLN’s section” on the Kathy’s Schrock’s Guide to Everything site.
For those of you who feel like you don’t have time to tweet, it’s okay to just lurk and watch. In fact, I recommend it at first until you get comfortable with how the norms work. But don’t wait any longer. The collaboration opportunities are limitless.
Author: Jennifer Laboon
Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.