LinkedIn was actually the first social media site I joined. I felt like it was safe because it was for "professionals." I, like many, had a preconceived idea about sites such as My Space and Facebook. But, LinkedIn in my mind was something different. I didn't get too involved with it at first because I didn't really understand it, and I didn't feel like it was going to be valuable to me. (Retrospect: obviously I was wrong!)
As, I mentioned, I had a preconceived idea that Facebook was just a place for high-school kids to "hang-out" and share information that I didn't care about. So, I was slow to get involved. The turning point for me was at a conference. I was sitting with a group of educators that I would see every year at the same conference and they were having this amazing discussion about an article they had all read. I was so disconnected from the group at that point because I hadn't see the article. They were all using Facebook, and had seen it posted by various notable names in education. I quickly realized that the way we share information was changing, and I better do something quickly if I wanted to stay informed and be part of these important conversations. The following week I joined Facebook. I realized that it could be whatever I wanted it to be, I didn't have to share things I didn't want the world to know about, I didn't have to connect with people from high school ... unless I wanted to! But what I could do was connect with the people I did want to know about, share and receive information with my colleagues, and stay current with what was happening in education. I had this invigorating feeling; instead of searching for information it was coming to me. I have been hooked ever since. Facebook is my primary social media tool.
I was even slower to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. I still feel that Twitter is my most underutilized social media tool. But, I feel like I have to put some restrictions on my technology use, or I will go insane. So, I have relegated Twitter (for now) to being my primary conference tool. Whenever I attend a conference or training event I tweet. It lets me stay connected to what is happening at the event and I can easily go back to it after the event to quickly summarize the key points based on the hashtags and trends in the event tweets.
Man, how I love You Tube! Can I first just say, what an amazing tool! Really all of these tools are amazing, but something about the power of video changes everything to me. I really enjoy being able to create instructional videos that can help others, but I think I like being a consumer even more. I watch all kinds of videos on You Tube, and anytime I need more information I turn to You Tube.
Not a slow poke any more!
Although I was slow to adopt a lot of social media at first, now I am eager anytime something new comes along. When Google+ first launched, I was so excited to get an invite code from Michelle Pacansky-Brock. I felt like, wow, I know someone; and I remember people talking about it, trying to get invited. Now I try everything that comes my way, I don't adopt everything into my everyday routine, but I like knowing what my options are.
What Social Media Means to Me
My favorite Social Media connection story is related to Facebook. As a distance educator many times we think about our students being at a distance from us; but I never really thought about my community being at a distance from me. When MSJC hired an educator who was not physically located near our campus, in fact, she wasn't even in the same state, this idea changed for me. We became "friends" on Facebook and started exchanging information and ideas about distance education. Soon we were chatting about our courses, then our families, and before I knew it we were talking almost every day about everything and anything we found interesting. This online communication continued for about a year before we ever met face-to-face. When we finally met it was like a movie romance scene; we saw each other at the end of the hall, immediately moved towards each other, and embraced. I know it sounds silly, but it was the same feeling as seeing your best friend on the first day of school after being away for the summer. I can honestly say I made a life-long friend because of social media and to me that is as connected as you can get!