Networking online is a topic I've spent a lot of time thinking about and working on over the past year or so. One thing that I've found to be very helpful is to separate personal and professional personas. The extent to which you do it is up to you, but I find it much easier to manage content and filter for relevancy when using different accounts for different purposes rather than having a personal "catch-all" account.
You may find, as I have, that depending on the platform your engagement and consume/contribute ratio may change. I might use one site to only read journals or articles but use another site to download lesson plans AND upload my own custom lesson plans to share with others.
There are so many communities and resources out there it's sometimes hard to choose or keep up. In the past when I was much more involved with the professional audio community I subscribed to forums, different societies, and a Facebook group or two. Now as an educator – specifically in adult education – I find that the venues tend to be a little different.
Top 3 Learning Networks
This was the first real community I joined when I got into the education field. Lots of resources, lessons, programs, and my favorite: the ability to earn badges and certifications! There are many learning pathways to choose from as well as a robust discussion area and open lesson plan repository. This is very good place to start if you are new to Office 365, want to learn about something new in the world of Microsoft, or just want to brush up on your old skills.
After finding the Microsoft Educator Community, I went looking for something specifically geared toward the adult education community and I quickly found that with COABE. I joined right away and saw that their national conference was coming up. I also applied for and won a mini grant which helped me offset the cost of attendance! The conference was amazing; I met so many people in my field and learned so much that I'm still trying to bring pieces back to my colleagues and into my classroom 4 months later!
COABE also hosts webinars and other training programs on a regular (often weekly) basis. I have attended several so far and there is always something coming up on the calendar that is interesting and relevant.
Twitter is HUGE for the education field. If you want up-to-the-minute news, resources, ideas, or encouragement, look no further than Twitter. Depending on your specialty, interests, etc., there's a hashtag for you. Popular hashtags include: #EdChat, #EdTech, and grade-level specific tags like #K12, #ElemSchool, #MiddleSchool, #HighSchool, etc.
As an educator in adult education, I have searched for specialized hashtags but haven't found much besides #AdultEd (which is often cross-pollinated with #Adulted as in "I adulted today and bought term-life insurance") and #AdultEdu (much better). Maybe there isn't a lot to choose from because the adult education community is much smaller than K-12, but the hashtags seem to skip from traditional secondary to higher ed without much in between.
The good thing about the internet, though? If something doesn't exist, create it! I have recently established a new account with a focus on technology in adult education. Essentially I've combined the two popular hashtags #EdTech and #AdultEdu into *drum roll* #AdultEdTech! Follow me at @AdultEdTech for the latest!
What else is out there? What are you involved in? Share it out!
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