The title of this post is the name of one of my Vaping Shows. For the last 18 months, I have been part of a community that produces online broadcasts using either OBS or Xsplit for the Vaping community. So what does this have to do with creating a PLN. A lot, actually. I have been very interested in different ways of communicating online with technology and I have used other interests such as vaping and gaming to explore those technologies. I found that I am a teacher and a communicator where ever I am and I have been able to extend my learning through leisure activities to my work as a faculty member at a Ontario college.
Using Coggle, I created a map of the types of communication technologies I use in different arenas of my life (pictured below). I have been a full-time faculty for almost 11 years with another 13 years of part-time teaching and support staff contracts at St. Clair College. I have been an online gamer for 13 years and a vape broadcaster for a year and a half. I have been working on a PLN using Twitter for just over a month. Not long at all in comparison.
I have more experiences in developing and maintaining a Personal Learning Network with the Vaping and Gaming communities then I do with the Higher Education community. My gaming experiences in creating a YouTube channel of instructional videos and my broadcasting experiences in the vaping community improved my ability to create videos for my work. Using chat through Skype and Discord with players from all over the world increased my cultural awareness of communication patterns and pitfalls that has helped me in speaking with and understanding my International students and tutors. Building reciprocal relationships though Facebook helps me to better understand what is needed to develop online connections on Twitter with other Higher Ed professionals. But I am still finding it hard to generalize my experiences and to understand the requirements of the Collaborator Module for Ontario Extend.
Perhaps part of this stems from my struggles in trying to create a PLN at the college with other faculty. As a faculty member in Student Services, I have found that Academic faculty and others in the Academic sector often don’t think of Student Services people as faculty. I am currently classified as a counsellor and while I may not be a professor, I do have a practice that includes teaching. I have an interest in teaching and learning but do not have many opportunities to meet with and talk with faculty outside of Student Services. The kinds of meetings we have and the sort of communication vehicles we use (email and telephone) do not lend themselves to community building or finding allies. Even our schedules make this difficult. As faculty who are scheduled 35 hours per week, we have regular lunch periods and most in-class faculty have, can I say, erratic schedules that don’t necessarily allow for a 12 noon to 1 pm break.
I will attempt to create a PLN map for the Extend Activity, I just hope I can figure out at least 10 people to put on it!