Final Thoughts: The Power of Online Networking

January 28, 2016

leigh-graves-wolfStay connected to MSU, and each other, with social media

As educators, we understand change as a consistent mode of being and, for the most part, we tend to embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with it. In my eight years as co-director of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program at MSU, I saw quite a bit of change. Technologies changed, laptops got smaller, phones got smarter, online tools were created (and deleted). Now I am embracing change again and have left the College of Education for a new role at MSU. I know that even though I will no longer be physically located in Erickson Hall, because of the technologies embedded in social networks, my connections and ties to the college will not cease to exist.

Support: Online and ‘IRL’

The educational communities of practice developed through and mediated by social networks are (in my opinion) transformational. You will often read stories in the media about the negative effects of online and asynchronous communication—how we no longer talk to each other or how we are becoming an insular society living lives alone on our devices. All too often, the media focuses on alarmist aspects of social media. I spend a lot of time with people online, but I also spend a lot of time with people IRL (in real life). I have seen, in marvelous ways, how social networks can support and transform educators. On a daily basis, I see educators support each other online—whether it be a question posted on a problem of practice (followed by streams of helpful advice) or supporting each other through personal triumphs or struggles.

For example, on a local level, I see the MAET students sharing their work and ideas with the #MAET hashtag on Twitter. The people engaged are not only current students, but alumni and faculty members as well. It is a way of extending the connection to the classroom, the college and each other. When we do meet in person, our experiences are just as rich, because we have sustained a connection rooted in helping each other.

Join the conversation

As another example, via Twitter, I’m able to participate in College of Education events I may not have been able to attend simply by engaging with a hashtag. A recent example came when the poet, emcee and teaching artist Myrlin Hepworth came to campus for a poetry reading. While I was unable to attend, I followed the event on Twitter. Was my experience the same as being there in person? No, but I was able to participate and, thanks to those who did share, was able to find colleagues and collaborators to follow who are also interested in literacy.

Chances are that you’re reading this in the print version of the New Educator. Know you have a place for conversations to continue beyond the printed text with the College of Education and with the MSU community at large. If you’re new to social media you can gently dip your toes in and start by reading the College of Education Twitter stream (twitter.com/MSUCollegeofEd) or by liking the College of Education page on Facebook (simply search for “Michigan State University College of Education”). Then, once you’re ready to wade a bit deeper into the stream, you can connect to more MSU communities by visiting msu.edu/social. Once you’re really ready to take the plunge, I encourage you to share your expertise, tell your Spartan success stories and help and encourage fellow Spartans. You can hashtag your stories #MSUed, #MSUkin, #SpartansWill or #GoGreen. If you follow me (@gravesle) on Twitter, I will be happy to help you along the way.

See you online!


 

On the web

hub.msu.edu