In this day and age, creating online communities can be as valuable as being connected with the community where you live. I was first introduced to professional online networking at a DL conference that I attended three years ago. Besides learning about the advantages of being connected online, I also familiarized myself with numerous online teaching communities and in particular Twitter. From then on, I became actively involved in social media. French resources, digital programs, and new ideas for teaching online are only a few examples of what I was tweeting about. After a year of sharing and tweeting, I organized a workshop for my French Immersion colleagues in the district to create my own bilingual online community. At the same time, I also joined several organizations to learn about what was available and how I could apply it to my teaching. I used to receive daily newsletters and attend webinars on online teaching regularly. I can say that the ‘fire hose was on” and I was taking it in. There was so much interesting information coming in, but there wasn’t enough time to really do anything with it except look at it, tweet it, and save it on Diigo.
This went on for a good year and half, and then other parts of my life began needing more of my attention and time. I sorted out all the informative emails and kept only the most relevant to my teaching situation. I then stopped visiting the Twitter site. I continued to refer to the daily Twitter emails but only read what was of key interest. The amount of information that I receive now is more manageable which means that if I find something that I can use in my courses, I have time to embed it right away where it belongs.
I have to say the same pattern happened in my personal life with other type of online networking. I used to follow a substantial number of bloggers that focused on topics that interest me. I even have a blog where I post things that I want to remember or have a quick access to. However, since I began OLTD, this has also been put aside.
Personal and professional online communities are a very good source of information as well as a good way to feel like you belong. However, I believe that as much as it is good to be connected since it helps to stay in tune with what is happening, it is also important to be able to look at the stream of information passing you by and to know that there will always be more information to come.