Forum Friday – Which Networks Are Important to You? (Poll!)

On Fridays I like to share an interesting comment or resource from either the forum here on the site, or a forum I frequent elsewhere on the intertubes. The goal is to get some interesting conversations going about “bigger” ideas, or really popular tools on the web. This week, based on conversations I’ve recently had with a number of individuals at the annual MACUL leadership retreat (our state’s ed-tech association), I thought I’d offer a useful too and conversation starter for all of the edubloggers out there.

I’ve created a short poll, which is by no means scientific, to give anyone who visits this post an anecdotal look into which networks are most important to us. At our leadership retreat, the topic of MACUL’s social network came up, and how well our association’s special interest groups maintain interest and stay in contact with their members. Then while talking with a MACUL member about a summer PD event, I suggested tapping into our association’s resources for presenters. He responded with the comment “I never thought of that…”. Which of course, got me thinking. how well do we, as educators, work our networks to our advantage? Do these large state or national organizations exist solely to feed us information, rather than be our “goto” places for human resources? Or perhaps the majority of educators rely more on their own homegrown network of resources? Take a quick moment to answer the poll below, and feel free to use the results on your own site!

It’s very possible that many educators simply rely on what they have in place in their own district or building. I know many teachers in my building that turn first to what our district and building leaders are providing us when they have an educational problem to solve. Then again, I also know many teachers in my building that first turn to the web, Google, or another network they’ve created for themselves outside of school or online. Where then do we strike the balance between being networked with those around us, and those we network with online? In our work setting there are individuals more likely to have a higher stake in our success as an educator and can target specific problems and situations that are common throughout the building, while online we can tap into a much wider experience pool? Obviously the answer is to find a balance, but I’m curious to know where everyone is right now. I personally value the connections I’ve made with the members of my state’s ed tech organization as well as the network I have in my building. I haven’t even thought seriously yet about joining a national educational organization, and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing….yet. We’ll see what the poll results reveal 🙂


  1. I usually turn first to those people in my immediate vicinity (ie. my school). Generally, they have great knowledge and can usually help. I think that’s because most people have a vast resource network, like myself. And if I pool that information, I can use their wisdom as well as mine. Now, I also use a lot of online information, but it so happens that that is definitely second.

    And since this is how I operate (and many other people too) I would like to see more of our educators going to conferences and other workshops in order to share more information with the rest of us.

    It doesn’t always happen like that, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did?

  2. It all depends on subject. For technical issues, I don’t have too many resources in my building, except there are some folks that do much more with video and web page creation than I do. There are some network and computer issues that I know I share similar outlook and infrastructure with in my district, and we’re pretty well connected, and meet face to face every month or so. But I often find that if I’ve got something that is off in a different direction, I’m better off looking to strangers on the Internet. Is Google a network?? When I’ve had questions about Windows or Mac OS, Altiris, Synchroneyes, switches, WAP’s, and other odds and ends, Internet searches have been very rewarding, and in some cases develop into direct conversations with other people that have substantial knowledge.

    We have a state association (Alaska Association of Technology Educators), but it creates no buzz other than an annual conference, and I haven’t been to a national conference. But a couple of great things came out of a trip I made 7 years ago to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference in Palm Springs…..but really I went to hook up with some friends and just get the heck out of town.

    I’m finding that more people don’t want to spend a lot of non-classroom time working on education unless it’s for a class or other structured activity, and I find that a tad puzzling to some degree.

    1. Andyh;

      A quick suggestion for resources technical in nature. Find a large company near you and inquire as to what organizations they are affiliated with. For example, I work for the largest utility in the country and we are affiliated with EPRI and EEI. If you were to ask us and we led you in that direction, you would find two organizations that do nothing but answer technical questions. I suspect the same of some computer companies in your area. For them it is a matter of survival so let them do the work for you.

  3. Home grown, although I am always open to new contacts. I use other contact points and pay a lot of attention to what I read but when it comes right down to serious conversations I stay within my network unless I really need to look to the outside.
    That is the way the whole school works. The base network is the teacher interaction and a lot gets done at that level. When they wish to explore something new or can’t solve a problem they involve me. When I find that I need help, I go to others that I already know. After that it becomes pure research.

    1. I’m with you, Rick. The homegrown networks are always the most valuable for me when working on projects that will affect those around me.

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