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In 2011, I attended my first ISTE. Shortly thereafter, I wrote this.

It was a post about a list and Klout scores and who’s who and what I learned from my experiences at ISTE. How I most enjoyed seeing student displays, how exciting it was to meet members of my PLN face-to-face, how I was honored to be part of the Connected Principals panel moderated by Scott McLeod, and how irritating it was to witness adult social interactions mirroring those of immature junior-high school students.

With ISTE 2015 only a few weeks away, it’s interesting how my thoughts about being a connected educator, integrating technology into teaching & learning, and engagement with social media have shifted over the past four years.

In 2011, I was newly connected. I had an emerging following and people read my blog. On the post I linked above? Over 15 people commented. Blog posts today? Comments are hard to come by. I’ve heard the same feedback from other bloggers.

How is it that I have 10,000+ more followers than I did in 2011, but fewer people engage with my content? I did reduce the amount of time I spent in these spaces after my son was born – my bad, I guess, for needing to be a mother to a newborn and an educator – and sadly I can say as a direct result of my hiatus, I received fewer requests to connect and work with schools over that time.

So, what’s changed? How was 2011 different than 2015? How does being a connected educator then compare with being a connected educator now?

Maybe my newer stuff is crap. Perhaps I was only interesting when I was a principal. I don’t blog as much as I used to. Sometimes I find it extraordinarily difficult to think of things to blog about. I don’t want to blog for the sake of blogging simply because at one point I was a more prolific blogger.

It’s easier to engage with others’ content in ways that are far less rewarding or meaningful. RTs, Likes, 1+s… it’s a click, a tap. An acknowledgment. It’s not engagement, though.

There are a lot more educators in the Twittersphere and social spaces discussing education. (I use the word discuss loosely.) What this means is that I have to more carefully craft the lists of people I follow to ensure my feeds aren’t getting bombarded with absolute nonsense. And lately that’s becoming more difficult to do. It’s why I appreciate our tech coaches’ Google+ community. People are there because they want to be. Because I moderate the posts. Because you have to be an approved member.

When Andy and I talked about the need to reinvent our PLNs, we did so because we’ve been noticing these changes. We see the same garbage shared over and over again, and we see people sharing and resharing it. And that’s frustrating. We see the same voices rise to the top, drowning out the voices that need most to be heard. We see Twitter chats. We look away. We see cats talking lifelong learning. And we’re okay with that. (Oh, and Andy and I are going to talk learning environments at ISTE 2015. You should come. Monday at 2:30! Oh, and I’m talking digital competencies and badges with my colleague Tim on Wednesday at 8:30! You should come!)

So, if you’re still reading, what’s changed for you? Since the start of your connected educator journey, to now… what’s different? What’s improved? What’s on the decline? What strategies do you use to make the most out of your experiences? How do you anticipate #ISTE2015 (or any ed conference) to be different now, than back then?

And don’t tell me I need to be gentle with educators new to these spaces, because I don’t want to hear it. It’s not fair to them. Let’s be real and honest about what these interactions mean to us, how they have changed us, for better or worse, and how to make their experiences worthwhile.

Would love to read your comments.

Or not. Just RT the post.

Don’t forget to include my handle.

13 comments on “What’s changed for you?

  • What an interesting post! I agree that I see fewer and fewer comments or real interaction, and a lot more fluff. As my connected journey continues, I find that using lists on twitter and keeping up-to-date on my favorite blogs in Feedly and my RSS feeds, are my way to connect more personally. I try to comment on something at least once a week, in between my fair share of RTs, etc. With all new learning experience, as we grow we evolve. The question will be how it benefits others…

    • Amy, thanks so much for commenting! I think I need to also set a goal for commenting each week. It’s honestly how I made my first strong connections with other educators- via blog reading and commenting rather than through Twitter. I also appreciate your point about how our interactions can help others- I’m a huge proponent of contributing and not lurking because you never know when something you share will be meaningful to someone and how it can impact their practice!

  • One of my tweets, earlier today, may describe, in part, what’s changed. Tom Wolfe called it “pernicious enlightenment.”
    — our idea-fetishism, continually fueled by the challenge of finding wisdom in the age of information, which leads us to mistake surface impressions for substantive understanding.

    • I can say that due to my interactions in the connected edusphere I have been introduced to a number of ideas and concepts of which I now have new understandings, although they are surface level. There are very few I’ve pursued to the level of substantive understanding. I think these interactions are a great way to introduce educators to new ideas and methodologies worth exploring. It’s up to the educator to decide the level of involvement in continued research, reading, writing, and putting ideas into action in order to develop enduring understandings.

  • I am feeling the exact same! I have many connections to your post- with ISTE 11 being my first and feeling like an excited newbie top connect in person with those I’d ‘known’ onlnie. I know that, for me, I have not maintained my engagement with others and haven’t probed, questioned, replied to posts, nor devoted the time I once did. I am sad about that and about much of the things you state in your post. To be truly connected, engagement needs to happen and it needs to be meaningful. We can’t just retweet the great resources that are shared. We need to connect, support, encourage, and build those relationships. Thanks for your post – it is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now and I hope to re-invigorate my own habits to connect more deeply.

  • Hello, Bonnie! So glad to hear from you. I think we naturally go from periods of heightened engagement to times when we can’t (and shouldn’t) spend all of our free time reading and writing online. Life exists outside of this, after all. I think because of that, I am going to try to more meaning fully engage when I do have the time to devote to doing so. Hope to connect with you again soon! Appreciate all you share in our google+ community!

  • Nice reflection! I have a lot of the same thoughts and feelings. The thing that resonates the most with me is the clique-ishness or that only certain people are considered so-called experts. I have “fallen” for things on social media that I know better than believing. I have fallen for “innovation” that is truly just good practice. You spoke more eloquently than I ever could have at this point. I love to blog but I too became busy raising children. Thanks for putting it out there!

    • Hi, Melinda! Thanks so much for commenting. It’s funny that you speak of “innovation” as just best practice in disguise… in my opinion we jumped into initiative in our district that year that is exactly that! It’s interesting how when ideas are packaged a certain way, they become more desirable. Guess it’s all about the branding 🙂 I appreciate all of your contributions to our network!

  • Lyn – It’s been a long road! I jumped in with both feet when I completed my PLP experience back in 2010-11. I started blogging actively then, with regular posts through the fall of 2012… Then I pretty much stopped writing. I felt like everything I was seeing, I had seen/heard before (How many times can you write about the benefit of Twitter for teachers?). I was still exploring, but much more selectively, following those I had found to be sources of either great tools/resources or open and honest reflection. I went back to being a bit less engaged (favorites/RTs, but fewer comments/interactions/twitter chats).

    This year I moved from elementary to middle school, and started teaching a middle school digital citizenship course (among other things). I found new reasons to reach out to my PLN and gather new resources. I was reminded of how important those connections are! I’m pushing myself now not to stagnate. I’m trying to engage more, and even recently submitted session proposals to FETC (both terrifying and exciting!). I’ll be at ISTE, and am seeking sessions that will push me, or are more “leadership” focused. I’m writing… 🙂

    It will be good to see you again… I think it’s been since PLP Live (you were pregnant?!?!). Thanks for putting this out there. It’s good to reflect on the journey and look ahead.

    • I do recall the PLP days of 2010… 🙂 So much was just emerging then, and that group definitely helped us feel comfortable in those networked learning spaces and learn how to apply our new connections and make strides with innovation in our schools. I think what you mention is key, that after some time passes, you need to be selective about who you follow, what types of info you engage with, and in which networks to spend your time. I spend a lot more time in Google+ now than Twitter, simply because there are deeper conversations happening in our coaches’ community than I find on Twitter. That’s not to say they aren’t there… that’s just saying that’s where I am in this journey. It is a “personal” learning network, after all…. Hope to see you at ISTE!

  • “Maybe my new stuff is crap.” 🙂 I doubt that. What has changed? “There are a lot more educators in the Twittersphere and social spaces…” BINGO! I would say this is an area that has really changed. And, it’s not only educators. There’s a lot of disguised commercial advertising. I’ve been involved with educational technology since around 1995. The web was young. You coded web sites. That took time. I liked that. The finished product felt good. It was an accomplishment. You searched and searched for other teachers with web sites. You really had to do some work. It took time. I liked that. The work resulted in great finds. Now, “stuff” comes to you. And it comes invited or not. It’s in your face from every feed you have. But, there are too many sound bytes. It’s difficult to digest it all. And, much is reposted reposts of posts. I know Twitter is loved by many. I know it was useful in providing a contact method during some catastrophic events in the world. But, I don’t like it. IT, has caused change that I abhor. IT has done to the posting world what Ted Turner did to the nightly news. There’s a daily scramble to be first. To be noticed. To be retweeted. To achieve great analytics. There is just too much, too fast. And, unlike when it was necessary to really search, one needn’t have a specific search goal because everything is just brought to your front door whether you were looking for it or not. That’s neither good nor bad. But, it fills inboxes and bookmarking tools turning us into digital hoarders. It makes one consider the idea that “Maybe my stuff is crap.” As a teacher I ride that roller coaster of confidence in what I’m doing because I’m constantly bombarded with “stuff” that I should be doing. I am sensitive to this feeling in my role as building technology coach. Their carts are pretty full. So, I don’t want to be the one to tip them. And, I want to be sure that anything I do pass along is going to be useful, not just bells and whistles. So, what has changed? It’s now a fast and furious atmosphere in the world of news feeds with competition to rise to the top. I guess that’s great to push innovation. But, to me it’s the difference between a huge buffet and ordering from a menu. At a buffet there are a multitude of choices. You generally don’t have the time or capacity to get to all of them and you didn’t choose what is available. And, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what was on the buffet to tell friends. When you choose from a menu, you know what you are getting and can even make some modifications. You can savor the entire meal. You can choose your sides and a nice drink to compliment everything. And, since you took time to peruse the menu you often are rewarded with a great find that you will share with friends. Ha! Somehow my analogies always involve food! Thanks for the post and it’s ability to provoke some thoughts about this topic. Rock On, Charlie

    • Charlie, I like your food references and comparisons here. I’ve found that I’ve become more selective with which spaces I spend my time. I get more meaning out of my interactions in Google+ lately than on Twitter. So that’s been a shift for me, but a worthwhile one. I still like to share out via Twitter, but don’t expect the same kind of reciprocal sharing in that space as I expect in our IT Coaches community in G+. There is a lot of “stuff” coming by us… now more than ever we need to engage our crap detectors (love Howard Rheingold’s work on that!) and engage with what’s important and necessary in our worlds while hopefully finding time to contribute to the larger community.

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