Thanks to social media tools like Twitter, many of us who work in the technology-mediated learning arena find ourselves making lasting connections with fellow practitioners of this thing that we do with technology and learning from all over the world. With a little bit of practice and with virtual venues such as #Lrnchat and Facebook, one can form astonishingly robust connections with people that we wouldn't recognize if we walked past them on the street.
These days, when I attend an industry event such as DevLearn, WCET or Online Educa Berlin, I find myself scanning the tweetstream to see who else is attending that event, and then trying to find those people to say hello, face-to-face. Finding a fellow "tweeter" at a conference is a bit like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...and I know I am not the only one who feels this way. It always makes me smile when I overhear, "Wow, I follow you on Twitter. it is so great to meet you in person!" (a comment often followed by something like "uh, you don't look anything like your photo" or, my personal favorite, "That avatar looks just like you!"). It reminds me of how important it is to never forget about cultivating the other side, the inter-personal side, of the connections that we create online.
In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of spending face-to-face, in-person time at both Online Educa Berlin and at DevLearn with one of my personal favorite people to follow, UK-based social media expert Jane Hart. On Twitter, Jane is better known as @C4LPT. As the managing director of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, Jane has been helping educational institutions and businesses understand how new technologies can be used to improve education, training as well as business performance. She currently focuses on the use of social media for collaborative learning and working - as well as for social media marketing.
Can I just say - Jane's Top 100 Tools for Learning and her Pick of the Day are resources I use all the time. Best way I have found to keep track of the constant stream of new social media tools. If you are an elearning professional, whether corporate or from education, you need to know about Jane.
Tonight, as Jane and I and a number of us converged upon Marlena's Bar at the Intercontinental Hotel for a glass of wine following our session, talking and laughing and teasing and telling funny stories to and about each other, I reflected on how very nice it is to have the chance to sit around a table looking each other square in the eye. Have to say, I like knowing Jane and friends even better than I like knowing about her :-)
Next time I check out Jane's Pick of the Day, you have to know that I will be smiling, thinking about the warmth of the camaraderie we all shared this evening. It was a treat to spend time on the other side, the non-digital, inter-personal side, of Jane Hart and friends.