Never Underestimate the Power of Social Networking

I was contacted last May by a woman who happened to stumble across my blog and website after performing some research on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) which is basically integrating the arts into STEM.  She wrote me an email letting me know that she found my resources both valuable and useful and asked me if she could use my material for a presentation that she was leading for her staff.  Of course I allowed her to use my material and I encouraged her to do so.  I was ecstatic to discover that someone else was out there who truly valued my educational insight and wanted to collaborate with me.

Long story short, she contacted me again just last week.  It had been about 8 months since we had last exchanged emails and she reached out to me once again!  Her email to me reads below.

Hi Brad,

It has been a little while since we have been in contact but a lot has happened since I first emailed about using you as a resource for our Professional Development day last May.  After initiating the implementation of technology in the arts, I was able to experience using a set of iPads in my classroom for the entire first semester of my classes and it was an amazing learning opportunity for my students as well as for me!  To make a long story short, I have very recently left the classroom and have begun a new journey as the eLearning Coordinator for our district.  I am very excited about the direction we are going and have already begun research and scheduled visits to amazing schools that have implemented online and blended learning.  As a newbie in this department, I am relying on any contacts that I have made in the past and you were the first to pop to mind!  I immediately admired your willingness to help me and was impressed by what you are doing in the classroom.  I would very much like to come and visit your class as I gather information about furthering our implementation of technology infusion as a district.  Let me know if that might be a possibility or if you know of another teacher/school in your area that could be of help.

I look forward to hearing from you!


What an awesome opportunity I thought to myself!  I emailed her back and happily invited her to come visit my school.  I was so excited to finally meet this person who reached out to me as a fellow educator.  Today at 11:00 a.m., she met me in my office and we exchanged "hellos" for the first time.

I gave her a tour of our school and showed her how we were integrating technology in our classes. I stopped by our CTE department where our students were working on "reverse engineering" projects in which they had to perform research and design to construct a product to be made out of Legos.  Then they had to create a set of instructions for another group to be able to construct their product. Students were using mobile devices for research and were using Google Sketchup to design a 3D model of their product.

Next, we stopped by a 7th grade classroom where I gave a demonstration on how to use the iMovie app on the iPad to help students create Public Service Announcements for a project that they were working on.  Each student had an iPad and had the opportunity to sandbox with iMovie after my demonstration.  Finally, we talked a bit more, shared some resources and innovative ideas and she was on her way.

After she left I thought to myself, "Wow!"  I actually met and collaborated with a complete stranger who just happened to share my passion and ambition in education ... all from social networking.  Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get to work with this woman in person who first emailed me a year ago.

My Reflection

This is such an amazing time to be an educator.  In an "open source" world, we are fortunate to have access to information, resources, and people ... for free!  We should take advantage of these resources by learning and sharing from each other, and not forget to contribute to the same "open source" world that we use to consume.  We as educators should be taking risks to learn, share, and connect with each other.  We are now shifting from a competitive learning environment, to a collaborative learning environment, and we should take full advantage of each other's knowledge and experience.  Each of us uniquely brings something different to the field of education and we should not be too timid, nor proud to share.  Because in the end, these are all of our students that we are teaching.  The same students that will be our future leaders.

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