Wrapping up week 2 of #DigPINS exploring Networks. Among other things, I was to dive into Twitter and become more of a resident to develop a personal learning network. In keeping with the Ron Swanson gifs, my first thought was:
Before I go on, I’ll say that tweeting and exploring networks wasn’t bad. My wife says I can be a bit of a curmudgeon so I blocked out any notions I had about Twitter and dove in. I’m most interested in applying these lessons to improving my teaching and I have enjoyed having the student perspective. I think most thought-provoking was the Nicky Case narrative game The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds which got me thinking about what kind of “node” I am and what I should be. I signed up for Twitter, started following some people, and immediately my feed was filled with tweets and suggestions on who to follow. Though I was only following a few people, it was easy to start seeing information flowing from so many different networks of people. Social justice issues, cutting edge research, personal posts, news. and politics. Several have commented on how twitter can be overwhelming at first and I would agree. Trying to manage the flood of information and sift through the useless information to find the useful is difficult. I looked a lot at twitter profiles for professional organizations and would follow them and check out the suggested pages. My feed quickly turned into an echo-chamber with highly similar information bouncing around. I followed new people in very different areas and the feed changed. So after a week I developed a massive following… nine people, and I think all of them are in the #DigPINS group. So what information do I share? I had to consider my “audience” and what information they might care about or find useful. Clearly posting something about a highly technical article is a poor choice. An inspirational quote maybe? A selfie? I settled on re-tweeting from some of the organizations I followed – try to move information from my personal learning network into a network of people that aren’t biologists studying conservation or zoonotic diseases. Perhaps I could use my role as an expert to promote that info. Huzzah, I am a Twitter resident!
I am no stranger to networks. I have heavily relied on different personal networks to advance my career and conduct research. However, I hadn’t really considered my digital network until this week. In a lot of ways I am a digital dead end. Information flows to me and stops unless I email or instant message a link directly to someone. I can see how engaging more on a platform like Twitter could be a way to expand my reach to students and funnel things I learn about to them. I could use this as a way to reach students outside of the classroom and beyond the one semester I may have with them. Looks like I have a lot of work to do on my digital network.