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Using Social Media to Network, or How I Got to be Part of Team ProfHacker

Last week, George wrote a post about academics and social media. In that post, he asked, “What’s been your experience with regard to social media and the academic world?”

As an academic with a keen interest in technology, I’ve been following the blogosphere for quite a while. At some point (I honestly can’t remember when, but at least as early as 2006), it occurred to me that much of the technology that interested me might also interest my students, and could even have some pedagogical uses.

Not being certain where to begin, I did what any good academic techie would do: I ran a Google search–and one of the results took me to some work by Dave Parry (@academicdave), who was then a Ph.D. student at Albany. I began regularly reading his blog, academHack, and also began following the blog of another young scholar, VTmtngrrl, who blogged at the most cake and later moved to the month of june. Their posts on the use of blogging and RSS feeds in the classroom (see, for example, this and this) helped get me started with using such tools in my own classroom.

Then, in January 2008, Dave mentioned Twitter. I was intrigued, so I signed myself up for an account, and started following people. Many of these were people I’d come to know from a Catholic forum I used to moderate, but many were academics. At one point, looking for other interesting people to follow, I took a look at whom Dave followed, and who was following him. Several of these folks seemed to be either (a) people with whom I shared some interests, (b) people I could learn from, or (c) both, so I started following some of them.

One of these was Boone Gorges (@boonebgorges, who blogs at Teleogistic). It’s thanks to Boone that I found out about ProfHacker (because I’d followed the same procedure with Boone and with @dancohen that I had with Dave Parry, I was already following a few members of Team ProfHacker, but they hadn’t said anything about the site).

I began reading ProfHacker and was intrigued. I also thought I might have something to contribute, so I fired off an email to Jason . . . .

So for me, social media have been useful in learning about things that interest me as a teacher, and in making connections with colleagues who have similar interests. I started out just enjoying the conversation and sharing information as I could, and that was a good thing; that it eventually led to being part of Team ProfHacker myself is a bonus.

(The image in this post was created by Flickr user Damien Basile and carries a Creative Commons license.)

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