We explored social networking this week; although I’m very familiar with facebook and we utilize it at our Visitor Center, I had never heard of Ning.com before, and did not realize that there were so many focused social network sites out there… I do think that we could do more with Facebook to engage local students in the Kodiak community, but I also see the advantage of a focused social network that is an internal resource for professional collaboration and development:
Please post your reflections on the potential value of social networks as a professional collaboration tool in education.
I suppose my answer here is a bit different, because I am not in a profession with other teachers – at least, not in formal education. But, I could really see one of the Ning groups working out really well on a national level for our Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Services professionals. One thing I really miss from my previous job (grant contract for the EPA) is the regional and national conferences I got to attend, and all of the in-person networking that happened there. Those conferences were valuable not so much for the different panel topics, but for the time in between panels when I could meet and talk with other people that were focused on similar projects and might be further along with tools like GIS or databases that were specific to contaminated site on Native lands.
I feel that I could really benefit from a national site that allowed me to “meet” visitor services employees from around the country, with a central location for blog posts, events, and forums, such as the ones on Classroom 2.0. Each region could have it’s own sub-group, and there could be other sub-groups for specific positions, such as for people working with volunteers, specialists in environmental education, or people managing visitor centers. Forums on use of technology or exhibit design would give me a much larger range of people to learn from, and I would be able to share some of the things I learn in this program with my colleagues.