It seems only appropriate to kick off my blog journey after being surrounded by so many smart, inspiring people in Austin, Texas for the Google Teacher Academy. This was an amazing experience. Sure, we got to dig deeper with the Google tools and in a room where everyone embraces technology. I learned quickly that it takes people to use the tools and those same people love to share. I mean they LOVE to share.
Any time I present to teachers I start with “Get a Tech Buddy” to share the journey. Initially I was referring to other great teachers down the hall, building or even other schools. Face-to-face is clearly hard to beat, but that isn’t always possible and limits the network. Many of my tech buddies are active in social media and have encouraged me to start sharing beyond face-to-face. My past practice has been more of a content consumer via Twitter, Google+, or my geeky podcasts on my commute, then share with others in person.
Within the last month I experienced the great power of expanding my tech buddies to the midwest and even North America. First, I was presenting at the Midwest Google Summit. This is a great technology summit, well organized and solid content for anyone in education to add many tools to their toolbox. Twitter and the MWGS G+ communities went from 0 to 90 even before the keynote. Then after our presentation the sharing requests came and retweets within their networks. That in itself was powerful and a two way learning experience. I shared, but got so much back from people I had never met before.
During the past two days sharing went into hyper mode. To be in a room with 51 other leading educators and instructional technology specialists was awe-inspiring. In addition to that the lead learners and special guests were all so accessible. They all get as excited as I get when sharing, then of course learning from the audience. I sat with the some of the best in educational technology integration and something surprising happened. I actually had a couple tools from my classroom that were added to the sharing network and session discussion. As well as a few tweets traveling around my new learning community, then back to Minnesota and beyond.
I know for most active in social media, this discovery of mine is not a great surprise. Those people live it everyday, but this was new “tech buddy” territory for me. While sitting with Matt Miller, @jmattmiller at dinner, I said how overwhelming Twitter can be for me. He shared a great view; “Twitter is like a beautiful mountain stream, flowing with new knowledge. I don’t stop going to the stream because I can’t see the beginning or end. I simply take it all in where I’m at on the stream.” Now that made sense to me.
Technology is changing education everyday and sometimes by the hour. Keeping up with the wave can be overwhelming if attempting to stay at the cutting edge. What cutting edge is to one teacher, classroom, school is regular practice somewhere else. It is really as simple as jumping in and trying from where anyone is currently at for that specific time.
I sit now with so many more tech buddies that I have been blessed with. Jump in and share the journey. You, your students and your network will all grow together. Seeing a student’s eyes light up, learning with a new tools is priceless. Then sharing that tool and method is what education is all about.