Nowadays, many people associated technology with Millennials and it cannot be denied that this is true due to the fact that we use excessive amount of our time interacting through our devices. Nevertheless, I am not claiming that all Millennials are automatically connected in social media and other technologies associated with the internet. I will admit that technology, internet and I have been childhood buddies and developed altogether. With this in mind, I have been exposed to several use of the internet, especially to social media. In fact, I cannot remember all the accounts that I’ve made for a variety of sites that I joined while growing up. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been my current pals. However, I decided to modify my posts and tweets after transferring into the Faculty of Education for professional purposes. Nonetheless, I prefer these sites to be my personal sites rather than for professional uses. This is the reason why I somehow struggle using blogs and tweets to professionally connect and expand my personal learning network.
As I’ve mentioned above, my approach towards blogging is quite paradoxical. I’ve made some personal blogs before wherein I posted some of the poems I have written, as well as some of the knowledge I learned. However,I deleted these sites—as I’ve said earlier, for professional purposes. Another experience that I had with blogging is when I have to make a professional portfolio for my ECS 100 class last Fall 2013. I really liked how I created that portfolio because I can easily customize it. However, the class only requires my e-portfolio to be only shared to my seminar leader which disallowed me to make any connections with the rest of the class. Setting-up a new blog for my ECS 210 class for our Personal Learning Network (PLN) was a bit challenging for me this semester. I have to use WordPress which is more formal and more complex than what I’ve used for my e-portfolio. Another struggle for me was the design or theme. I’ve always wanted to incorporate creativity to my works but our class seemed to use the more formal—black and white—theme rather than the fancy and colourful ones. Maybe this is because of the stereotype that colours and creativity belongs to elementary while formality is more suitable for most of us who are in Secondary Program—or maybe it was just me. Although I felt odd at first, I still decided to use the more colourful theme and started blogging.
On our first official week in class—week 2, September 9th—we were asked to create our first blog as a response to our reading of Kumashiro’s introduction in our class textbook. Since I am not aware on how to really blog, I decided to answer the question directly—which resulted into having a paragraph-long response as my first blog. One of my staff group members, Brady commented that he liked how concise my response was. However, I somehow felt that I haven’t expressed my full opinion towards the reading with that concise response. As a result, I asked Audrey if I can still edit my response towards the reading and she fortunately said “Yes”. From there, I edited my blog and add a little bit more elaboration to my response. I was about to post my freshly edited response but I wanted to add a bit more visuals with it. I wanted to add a picture that is related to my blog but I wanted to avoid any plagiarism issues. In addition, I wanted to customize the content of this image. With this in mind, I remembered that Mike showed us a website on Spring 2013 that creates a picture out of typed words; the more the word was used, the bigger it gets in the picture. After numerous trial and error, I finally made the picture that I wanted to be part of my first blog.
After my first blog post, I had a hard time catching up with my blog posts. Audrey advised us to post at least once a week but I’ve failed to so until the middle of October due to overwhelming schedule from my classes, volunteers, and work. Nonetheless, I wanted to catch up with the previous blog prompts because I wanted to express my reflections in those certain topics. With this in mind, what I did is that I set up a folder wherein I copy/paste the writing prompt for the week, write some reflections, note some words or ideas towards the topic, and leave the blog with its number (i.e. Blog 2-Sept. 15th) until I get another free time to work on it. When I finally finished my second blog response, it was already too late to post and thought that it will be awkward if I still don’t have the rest of my missing blogs. As a result, I waited until I finished all my blog reflections before drawing some images that can be associated with them. Then, I post them all at once.
With regards to creating connections through blog, I can say that although I’ve been open with my reflections, I find it hard to connect in blogging. I thought that it will be easier for me to develop my PLN if I already have some friends from the faculty because I will be comfortable enough in communicating with them on-line. However, most of my friends are in the Faculty of Business and considering myself as a fairly new student in the faculty, I don’t really know anyone which makes it hard for me to connect. Furthermore, some of my acquaintances from my other classes are either taking elementary program or just haven’t taken this class yet—because I wasn’t “supposed” to take this class until next year. In addition, I figured out that my troubles in connecting through blog were because I wasn’t comfortable following other blogs at first, other than my staff groups Brady and Elisa. Lately, I somehow found some confidence making an effort to search blog addresses from our seminar’s list as well as other seminars. Nonetheless, I decided to take it slowly and followed few more blogs from our class: Chris, Brooke, Kelsey. However, there are some blogs that doesn’t directly show their first names like Kelsey, and http://sreitmeier.wordpress.com/ which somehow makes it hard for me to identify them in class. As I’ve said earlier, I have limited connections in blog. Maybe, it was because I didn’t post my blogs until late October. Nevertheless, I got my second comment from Kelsey after I updated my blog. She connected on my blog about Rejecting the Notions of “Good” Students. Five days later and I got my third comment from Kara saying that she loved my blog. I do have limited connections but I’m glad that I at least have some than none. I know that I’m still on a journey and there are more to look forward to enhance this network. Also, I started following blogs from outside our class such as Raquel from Mike’s post in our weekly plans and Kara who was my classmate in my Presentation Skills Workshop from last year; both have inspired me in enhancing my blog although I haven’t taken the action yet.
One of the latest experiments that I did on my blog was to put a response about our class even though we don’t have any blog prompts. This notion came from Raquel after I’ve read her PLN as an example for this assignment. I took her advice on writing less formally and more naturally. This is an important advice that I use because sometimes, I cannot help but compare the quality of my blogs to others. I have read blogs that prefer to use more formal language while mine are mostly journal-like and casual reflections. I somehow thought that my blogs are in a wrong format but Raquel’s blog gave me the assurance of continuing where I am comfortable. Nevertheless, I still sometimes debate this because maybe writing in comfort does not challenge me enough to reflect deeper about the issues presented in class. We have been learning to trouble our knowledge and to challenge comfort as it is usually associated with commonsensical notions that conceals oppression. Maybe this is one of the factors that I can enhance in the future but for now, I will continue writing casually. Another connection that I had with Raquel was when mentioned of considering the length of her blogs as a factor why she has not receive much comments and connections because I felt the same. Honestly, one of the factors that I consider before actually reading a whole blog is its length—if I can finish it with the limited free time that I have. On the other hand, I understand the diversity in length of our blogs because I personally love writing longer blogs so that I can express all of my reflections. Another factor that I adapted from her was the connection she makes after someone commented on her blog. I used to think that having comments was enough but I realized that connecting back is essential so I applied that to my recent comments.
Another experiment that I am currently trying is creating a reflection from an experience—such as the SAFE Conference. I started my draft of reflections towards the event and I’m more motivated to finish it after reading Kara’s thoughts and Duncan’s thoughts about the event. However, I am not yet done with mine and decided to work on my PLN first instead.
Likewise, my approach towards tweeting is also quite paradoxical. I’ve mentioned before that I do have a personal Twitter but I decided to diminish my tweets on that account—to the point that I almost deleted it for not using it—to make a new one for professional purposes. Nevertheless, I can’t say that I am an expert with Twitter. In fact, I even consulted Twitter support to understand what MT means from Katia’s tweet. It felt like I was starting over again—which I did by creating this new account. There was no way that I can connect in Twitter because I don’t know anyone. I first followed accounts that will allow me to be updated on what’s happening on my milieu so I followed CBC News , Globe and Mail , Maclean’s Magazine and even followed our Prime Minister. Then, I followed our seminar leader, Audrey, my previous seminar leader from ECS 100, Michelle ,Alec from one of the PDs I attended last year, and our professor Mike. Again, I continued following politics and news such as our premier, our mayor, and Global Regina. In addition, I followed my grade 12 English teacher and my ENGL 100 and 110 professor. The lists can go on and on after I followed more education students and other professors that my professors followed.
Nonetheless, I didn’t use Twitter until last week. I was always told to hide my devices during class and this is the reason why I felt odd using my phone to tweet during class. It somehow divides my attention from the class as I browse on the feed. However, it allows me to see which important notes stands out for my other classmate and how they perceive these ideas differently. My first tweet in class was a quote from Grant Urban when our class had him as a guest speaker on Tuesday, October 21st. I was surprised by how much it got retweeted and favourite—by Grant and by other people who I don’t really know. During class, I developed a question and tweeted it. I wasn’t expecting anyone to catch the question I threw in the air but Grant replied in the afternoon.
That day, I gained a couple of followers which is important for me because this makes me feel that people are connecting to me in some ways.
Another purpose that I learned from twitter is getting an update from what I’ve missed. Again, I just offered a question in the air and wait for someone to take it and provide me some answers. Mike answered my question and I’m really glad to know what I’ve missed; it somehow made me feel that I at least know partials of the event even though I wasn’t able to attend.
An additional event that allowed me to use twitter and expand my network was the Social Justice and Anti-Racist Anti-Oppressive Forum on Education (SAFE) Conference that happened on Friday, October 24th. Again, I tweeted quotes that strike me from the keynote address and various seminars that I attended throughout the day. From this, I gained several favorites and retweets, as well as several followers such as the seminar speakers like Sheena. At the end of the day, Katia made a summary of SAFE Conference; I think it was a good idea to make such compilation so that students who cannot come can still attain partial knowledge from the event.
Lastly, I recently adapted a way to use my blog and Twitter together. This notion came from one of Michele’s student in seminar, Bryton, who tweets links of his blogs to his Twitter account. As a result, I started tweeting the links of my recent blogs: A Piece of That Please and Lecture Response which both has positive outcomes by being retweeted by Audrey and Katia as it endorses audience. Likewise, I’ve seen Kelsey have done the same with her PLN.
Overall, my recent experiences from my blog and twitter have been positive. I am gaining and/or starting to make connections in my blog. Likewise, I was able to explore my Twitter’s useful purposes from gaining information from other perspectives, getting an update, sharing an idea, clarifying tweets, endorsing my blogs, asking for permission and even confirming information. I know that I am just starting to expand my connections to enhance my Personal Learning Network. However, these recent positive experiences allowed me to reflect that it is worth taking risks and trying to step out a bit from my comfort zone. To end this assignment, I just want to share few more last reflections. Last Friday, Audrey asked me if I can share my blogging experience in our seminar. I said yes and she gave me some time and space on Monday (October 27th) in our seminar to share my experience. After sharing, she thanked me saying that it’s always nice to hear some thoughts from someone who is really quiet in class. This made remember what I wrote in our small index card on our first seminar class. I told her that I don’t talk much; I just don’t feel comfortable enough in sharing my thoughts. These thoughts made me realize that I really don’t talk much in class. However, blogging gave me the space to share all the thoughts that I have by sharing my reflections. Blogs and Twitter allowed me to have an alternative space to learn and communicate with other people. Nevertheless, I knew that this is just a beginning and I can enhance my personal learning network in several more ways. As an example, I am planning to soon use Kelsey’s approach of using Facebook to professionally communicate. Although I don’t have many professional friends in Facebook, my notions may/will allow some of my Facebook friends to perceive and/or consider things differently. Hence, I am thankful for the growth that I had for my personal learning network and I look forward for the changes it may imply on me in the future.