While the trip has been filled with awesome instances of learning, there were the maddening aspects of getting connected that leads me to write this post. I want to help other educators find their way getting connected.
Getting connected, it's a process
Step 1 - Make a commitment
Anyone wanting to achieve a goal makes a commitment to do everything they can to reach that goal. My goal was getting connected and I committed myself to Twitter, blogging, social media, Twitter chats, and registering with a variety of learning spaces. By learning spaces I mean spaces on the Web where I could find and interact with other educators. Making the commitment also means committing time, and you will spend a lot of time over the course of months and years to cultivate your connected presence.
Is it worth it to spend so much time making connections? YES, YES, and YES! I've made hundreds of contacts and friendships by connecting other teachers in virtual learning spaces. Besides those personal connections, I learned so much about teaching and learning because men and women share thousands of resources. The time put in to get connected will easily be rewarded by a growing PLN, resources you can gather, and personal learning.
Step 2 - Pick a virtual learning space
Many teachers will recommend Twitter as the first way to get connected. Undoubtedly there thousands upon thousands of educators to connect with on Twitter, however Twitter is faced pace, confusing at first, and mind numbing with the amount of information shared. So, I suggest getting started at Educator's PLN.
Tom Whitby started this PLN for any educator who wants to get connected and it's a great place to make your first connections. I didn't start here but wish I had. It's a space that is less intense than trying to following teachers on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Step 3 - Get a Twitter account
If you don't have a Twitter account, it's time. I suggest using your first name and last name because it identifies you. Or, use Mr. or Mrs. and your last name. This would be a professional account. You could also have a personal account. I tried having two accounts and it was a bit much.
Step 4 - Search Twitter using #edchat
While saying to go to Twitter first is contrary to my advice in Step 2, it's the single best way to find connected educators.
In the search bar in Twitter, type in #edchat. You will a continuous stream of tweets by educators. Pick the educators you feel are valuable to follow, and click follow.
Clicking follow puts these educators' tweets in your twitter timeline.
If you go to your home twitter stream, you will see tweets from these educators.
This builds your PLN in Twitter, but how do you build it in other spaces.
Step 5 - Other learning spaces
Below is a list of virtual spaces I have joined and participated within that I felt were of high quality. Of particular importance are Educator's PLN, Classroom 2.0, CTQ, Edutopia, Edudemic, and Connected Educators.
Using you the educators you follow in Twitter, try finding these people in the list of virtual spaces below and connect with them.
List of Virtual Spaces
Global Education Conference