Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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Editorial

This has been a year of firsts.

About a year ago, I took my first online courses to learn about technology in education (through TESOL's Electronic Village). I was immediately fascinated by the potential of social media for professional development. EFL can be an isolating profession, and anything that helps teachers connect is a winner in my mind.

Learning about social media is like learning about language. The only way to understand how social media works is to use it. So, filled with visions of stolen identities and spam, I cautiously created my first online profiles and took my first baby steps into cyberspace. Suddenly I was on Facebook, Linked In, Google, Delicious, and Twitter. I found teacher blogs to follow, and joined even more Yahoo groups. At first it was overwhelming. Everything had a learning curve, and I was at the bottom of each one. But, each day, I met new teachers in different countries. My days began with discussions from my groups and a slew of new tools and resources from teachers on Twitter. I felt like a kid in the education candy store!

Social media started to make sense. While I'd used the internet to stay in touch with people I already knew, now I was using it to connect with new people. Amazing people. Amazing people in education. It was like being at a never-ending teachers' conference, or being in a school staff room that's open 24 hours.

Next, I started to blog. I had dreams of creating a community of EFL teachers, but secretly feared I'd be a community of one. Luckily, teachers online are really, really supportive and so far more than 25 teachers from 15 countries have added their voices to Teaching Village (including Steven and Theron!).

I revived an old column for Teachers Learning with Children, but with a new slant on technology for teachers of young learners. I also gave my first technology-related workshops--about using social media for professional development, and ways to use high tech tools in low tech classrooms. Trying to embrace the openness that defines social media, I created a wiki so that I could make the presentations available after the workshop and to share other resources I found.

Writing for ELT News is another first. I'm excited to have this opportunity and humbled to have been asked.

The goal in sharing my online adventures is to encourage other teachers to give social media a try. If this not-so-techie teacher can learn how, anyone can!

Steven's call is for us to dig deeper. Theron's is to collaborate. Mine is to connect. There's a world full of teachers learning together, attending conferences virtually, and collaborating internationally--just a mouse click away.

See you in May. Until then, see you in cyberspace!

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto



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Comments

Hi Barbara!

I came to your editorial by way of a colleague on Facebook, and it has inspired me! I am an EFL teaching taking my first baby steps into the world of social media and at times I feel completely overwhelmed! Overwhelmed technologically yet delighted at this growing community, so generous in their sharing of ideas, materials, and so stimulating.

Looking forward to connecting with you at some point online, as this is the year that I am going to take bigger steps into this world!

Hi, Beverly!

I can completely relate to that overwhelming feeling, but it's worth it! I'm glad to hear that you've been taking baby steps online. There are lots of us in the same boat.

Good luck with your efforts--I look forward to bumping into you online!

Hi Barbara
This is a really heartening post. It has give me a real lift to read it :-) Thank you!
Carol

Thank you, Carol, for the kind words, and even more for always being willing to help a new teacher in the Edunation sandbox in Second Life.

You're one of the reasons many of us not-so-techie types have been able to survive, and thrive, online!

Very well written, Barbara! Thanks for the excellent post.

I loved your post, too, Theron!

I feel so lucky to have met you and Steven. For me, that is a fabulous example of how we can benefit from being online. While we might have met at a JALT function at some point, it was so wonderful to meet you both at JALT after getting to know you online!

I'm glad we'll be sharing this adventure together :-)

Brilliant post, Barbara! This last year on twitter has been amazing, connecting to so many wonderful educators around the world. Having you as part of my PLN is such an honour!

Luv,
Anna

Thanks, Anna. It has been an amazing year, hasn't it? Without Twitter, and Facebook, I probably would never have met you, and that would have been a real shame. I'm honored to have you in my PLN, too!

Wow, what awesome enthusiasm. I wish you the best as you continue your journey. At age 52 I completed an on-line degree with Johns Hopkins! I never new how powerful it could be. It is great to contribute and network rather then just watching! I am excited to see where your new journey will take you! - Wishing you the best... Mike

Dear Barbara,

Great to read your own success story with the Electronic Village Online that has shaken up and inspired the lives of so many educators including mine. I never stop learning there and with the online network I'm part of.

This post can give a boost to so many educators who feel isolated and don't know where to start. I'll share with somme colleagues. I keep talking to them and trying to inspire them, but it is always refreshing to have different voices.

Cheers from Brazil.

Thanks for the kind wishes, Mike! I've been amazed at the power, too. Congratulations on your degree, and your own journey!

Thanks, Carla. You have been such an inspiration to me, and other teachers in EVO. You are a great role model for ways to use the power of technology and social media to make us better teachers.

The Webheads are definitely some of the finest folks I've met, on or offline, and I brag on the Electronic Village every chance I get. As far as I'm concerned, TESOL's EVO is some of the best professional development a teacher can get at any price--and it's free!

Thanks for your continuing efforts to connect us all :-)

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