Today I’m working on cleaning my Twitter presence. I’ve been meaning to get who I’m following more in alignment with my Professional Learning needs and try to find people that can give me a unique perspective on technologies used in education. No easy task if you consider I’m trying to find people who think about educational technologies that don’t follow the same resources that I do… Basically I’m looking for pople that use technologies to accomplish goals and share on Twitter so that I can then apply their experience to the educational sector.
In this exercise I’ve been reminded of the importance of creating the right digital presence and looking at my own with a more critical eye. Let me start by saying that we all have a right to be critical of who we follow on any social media. When it comes to deciding who will be in your Personal Learning Network, you do not have to worry about any kind of etiquette. This is YOUR resource, YOUR time, and what I want to talk about today, YOUR Professional Digital Presence.
As I’m looking for people to follow, I find myself looking at people’s recent tweets at least as critically as I do their profile. Yes their profile is considered, but so to is what they are saying! If someone hasn’t tweeted in weeks, or worse yet, they talk about personal things or “non-content”, I am finding myself moving on and looking for someone else to follow. The point being, I don’t have time to weed through their 10 tweets to find the 1 nuget of related content. If I’m subscribing to Scientific American I don’t want MAD magazine thrown in between some of the pages. I’ll use my personal twitter feed for that content.
A friend and colleague of mine @Technology_Tim has been discussing with me his observation of a division of PLN “Givers” and “Takers”. We’ve all seen the extreme cases of this. There’s the person that is the first to Tweet the headline story/new technology/new web service. They constantly give content and rarely mention anyone, have few followers, etc. Then there is the extreme “Taker”. They can create a great network of people to provide content to them, but they never, if rarely provide content themselves. Being one who has gone as long as a week without Tweeting, I sometimes feel that I belong in the “Taker” category myself. At least if I only consider the Social Media component of my PLN. I am giving to other’s in the classrooms I visit, the peers I talk to individually and in the classroom as I model what I’ve learned. Now what if I look only at the Social Media component of my PLN?
I’ve been struggling with this observation about givers and takers. I know there can be a good balance and I’ve seen many good examples. My struggle is in determining if it even matters. Does it matter if I don’t contribute often, if I contribute well? I am very careful to make a contribution that l have thought through and hopefully, is relevant to people that follow me. I know I could make an effort to do that more often and this exercise has helped me see that. Knowing what I said earlier about the right to be critical, anyone looking to follow an ed tech specialist will give one look at my profile and what I’ve said recently and make a decision… What will they decide?
I think this is a question that we should be asking ourselves at least once a month. Immagine other people signing into their professional Twitter feed and reading what you, a member of their professional learning network have contributed. What are they learning from you? What do they know about you as a professional? We need to understand why we have professional accounts and use them to contribute to Twitter and communicate our professional mission in everything we say. For me, it’s not to make sure I get followers. It’s to make sure those that do follow me, will find value in what I say most of the time.