Thursday, July 2, 2009

Much Love to My PLN

It was my intention to blog every day of the NECC conference, but for me Washington DC moved fast and late into the nights. I still want to write about the things I learned, but I am still processing. The thing I do want to talk about is my social network.

I was very excited to go to Washington DC knowing I was finally going to connect with my PLN face-to-face. I have met with some of my online friends before and am constantly amazed by how powerful the experience can be. This time was no exception. Sitting in my in-depth session on Sunday, I was watching the Plurks abound from my friends in the convention center. A large concentration of them seemed to be in one room and my session ended before theirs did. They told me to come on over. I was going to hang outside the door and wait for them, but one of them ushered me through the door and right into the group. I can’t even fathom how bonding can be that instant, but it was. We all went to the Keynote together, but during it I got a text from Audra, the Rapid City teacher and great friend of mine that had come with me. Her mother was in the hospital and not doing well. She was going to have to leave. I went back to the hotel to spend the evening with her. She took off the next morning. Normally, I don’t think I would like to be in Washington DC by myself, but I never felt that way. A core group of us seem to form and I was always included in the plans. We all checked in with one another and found we enjoyed each other’s company immensely! I think my greatest learning came from this group of incredibly creative and talented people. We are from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania and New York. These people have a real love for students, education, and technology. Just being with them gave me the recharge I most certainly needed after a difficult school year. I love the timing of this conference because it is early enough in the summer to give me time to play with some new applications and plan lessons that are relevant and engaging for my students.

I got to see much history of the United States while in DC and I love that, but I think watching how people connect and network in this modern world is every bit as interesting. I have heard people complain about how the internet is ruining people’s communication skills. I find it to be absolutely the opposite. I have the privilege of communicating with people I would never have had the opportunity to before and we are exchanging ideas that I am sure would have been much slower to reach South Dakota years ago. I find that so exciting.

I know there are many people that are reluctant to connect with strangers via the Internet and with all the bad things that are out there, I understand. But sometimes if you don’t take some chances in life, you miss out on some amazing things. I think there are ways to take that risk and still be pretty safe and I am so glad I am connected!