(net)work-a-holic

As school began, I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow my network connections to interfere with my work. As last year came to a close, I was finding that much of my evening was spent checking the various networks of which I was part and keeping up with the ever-growing RSS feeds in my reader of choice. Once the summer began and I was able to “denetwork”, I realized that there had to be a better way to stay connected and informed without spending all that time checking out networks.

Now that school has begun, I know that I cannot devote as much time to my networks as I did last year.  For many of us who have been at this for a little while, we’ve come to recognize particular names that belong to many of the networks . In fact, I see the same names on my Twitter as on Facebook and in the Classroom2.0 network. I’ve come to rely on these people for feedback and input but I sometimes wonder if there is more out there. That is when I usually start looking for a new network of some kind to latch onto, hoping to find new faces and get new perspectives. I know that there are many educators out there who have much to add to our conversation.

Many of these people are blurkers (blog lurkers) who have yet to find their voice or who don’t feel comfortable blogging about what they are doing. They are unsure of the technology or feel they don’t have anything to say.  That is where those people who are working in networks can help by inviting some of them to join our conversation. I don’t really care which network people use or how they join the conversation since, if the present networks are any example, people will find others pretty quickly.

What does this mean for leaders and administrators? I guess the one thing that it has meant for me is that I have greatly reduced the amount of time I spend in the networks. Although it is good to make contact with the people that I have met, I still need to make sure that I am not becoming  a network-a-holic, creating work through just over networking myself. Networking is important in any job but, as educators, once we escape the darkness of the cave there seems to be an over-zealousness to get involved in as many different networks as possible. As educational leaders, we must realize that teachers will do this and we need to work with them to ensure that they don’t become overwhelmed with all the great contacts that can be made.

This may seem trivial to many but as I prepare to begin working with each of my staff to help them with planning with technology as a focus, I hesitate in suggesting they pursue some of the networks just because of this very danger. I want them to be excited and eager to pursue different opportunities but I also know the dangers of being “too” connected, if that is even possible?

I offer this up because I realize that many teachers are just beginning to understand the power of networking and such things as blogs can have. Students, of course, have realized this already and most of them are no longer “wowed” by the various networks of which they are part. There is great power in bringing together students across space to interact with one another. Teachers, by comparison, haven’t dealt with the “wow” factor yet. This is one area that, in the near future, will need to be watched, I think, as present teachers are introduced to networks with other teachers.

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