1.5 Making contacts
Social networking can remove many of the barriers to engaging in dialogue with the ‘leading lights’ in your field. If you have a question for a particular expert who, a couple of decades ago, would be largely reachable only by approaching them at a face-to-face conference, now you can use your networks to pop them a quick question on Twitter, for example. Social networking has made the education world much more accessible to its constituent members than it has ever been before (Davis, 2011).
Activity 1 Identifying your existing roles in networks
Complete the following table. Which of the following networks do you already participate in? In each case, consider the type of participation you have with each network. (Participations described as ‘informal’ can be ad hoc, on any topic, sometimes unrelated to your own teaching practice; participations described as ‘formal’ would be focused on improving your teaching or sharing resources.)
Table 1 Types of involvement in online networks
||Observer (or ‘lurker’, reading other people’s input but not contributing directly)||Responder (answering questions or commenting on discussions)||Text contributor (posting questions or starting discussions)||Information contributor (providing factual information that is not your own material)||Sharer (contributing your own material for discussion or reuse)|
|Informal online contact with teachers in your organisation that you interact with mostly face to face.|
|Informal online contact with teachers in your organisation that you interact with mostly online.|
|Informal online contact with teachers in other organisations that you have met face to face at some time.|
|Informal online contact with teachers that have come together informally via social media.|
|Formal online contact with teachers of the same subject discipline or age group.|
|Formal online contact with teachers of many backgrounds focused around particular teaching topics (e.g. flipped classrooms, online teaching etc.)|
|Formal online contact with other members of organisations of teachers (e.g. members of professional bodies, unions etc.)|
When taking your teaching online it is important to consider not only your teaching materials, but your own practice as a member of the wider teaching community. This activity should help you to identify where you could make the most of your existing connections, and how you might make new ones online.