The more I travel and spend time in airports and train stations, the more I realize humanity’s desire to connect. What I noticed while waiting for my ride after my flight were hugs, longing looks, smiles, and tears. I heard future plans being mentioned and, “we’ll see you next summer, same time”. In essence, I witnessed people not wanting to be apart from each other.
I consider my family for a moment. We had the luxury of growing up in the same area code for many years. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins all lived within a few miles of each other. Family reunions were large and loud and always shared many laughs. When I look back through old photo albums it was rare to not see someone in a picture. Plus, we all watched each other grow up or grow old in person rather than online. Our social network happened in real life and on our neighborhood streets.
Unfortunately, the model above has changed dramatically. Kids grow up and eventually move out of the house (not always the case). Some move out of the state or out of the country. In my own personal growth I moved away from my little town of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, went to the University of Miami, FL, traveled abroad for six months in Australia and New Zealand, moved to Philadelphia, PA, and finally find myself in Boston, MA.
Throughout that time I have had to make new friends and insure to keep in touch with old friends. I’ve had to watch children grow up distantly and experience a lot from afar. During most of my travels and moves, social media was in its infancy. I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter in college (we had Friendster my senior year). Today, what’s different is that despite the distance we all have the means and technology to stay connected. And, while there is no technology (yet) that will take the place of the emotion and feeling of being in the physical presence of those with whom you love, we can still experience the moments.
In education, moments happen every day. Students surprise us with amazing work and teachers engage their students with an exciting lesson. Like those moments of the family, the moments in a classroom should be shared as well. I often reflect on my experience with social media and how this technology has not only shaped my career, but given me an opportunity to learn and share with a global community. More than any other industry I know, education has taken to social media forums and leveraged these tools to share moments and make connections. Just a few weeks ago I watched another ISTE conference from afar (one day they’ll accept one of my session proposals). Despite being away from this conference I was able to witness the moments, the resources and the relationships. I saw friends that I have connected with both in person and through social media sharing resources, photos and experiences. I felt that I could be a part of this experience through social media and watched as relationships, that in another time may not have occurred, burgeon.
Social media is not a contest. Nor does it elevate you to some status beyond your job description because of the number of followers you have. At its core, social media are about that basic desire of all humans to connect with each other. In education, social media allow us to share the moments and experiences of our respective classrooms. It allows us to share the positive lessons and those that didn’t quite turn out the way we anticipated. And, it allows conversations to continue beyond a meeting or a conference. It’s not required for every educator to have a Twitter account, but I can assure you it will bring a new perspective to your teaching and learning.
The next time you travel take a moment to look around you. I think you’ll see what I mean.