How I got here… (revised and edited January 2012)

Hi, I thought I’d start with a little bit about me and where I am at this present time in terms of my web 2.0 learning.

I was a Teaching and Learning Consultant with Southend-On-Sea Borough Council in Essex, Great Britain. I was, for two years, a very unhappy Primary (Elementary)  school headteacher. I am now happily retired and looking forward to having more time to research the world of knowledge out there on the net.

I have come to the point of blog creation via the route of a slowly growing interest in social networks. I was first involved with Facebook and spent my first few weeks with this site adding a few close friends and catching up with relatives in the United States, Canada and Australia.

I enjoyed the facility of being able to communicate news and views to an immediate social network. It was a closed world though because I was communicating with those who I knew, loved, cared about and was directly interested in in terms of my previous life and existence on the planet. My life defined my network.

I am fortunate in having a brother who is an academic librarian who has always had a deep interest in the power of technology to change learning. He sent me a few links to some extraordinary sites ( see links page).

I was very influenced by one site in particular and that was “TED”. I managed to see a number of amazing speakers, many of whom moved me and most of whom influenced my views on the world. (see “In Praise of TED”)

I went to facebook and found that it was not just a site where I could look up and contact my long lost relatives in Philadelphia, PA, or play the interminable games of online scrabble that my wife became addicted to.. but it was also a means of following groups of like minded people and even “friending” some fascinating figures (see my later entry on William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer).

It was shortly after becoming more adept at using the potential of  Facebook that I started to Twitter.

Like Facebook my “Twittering” was very slow and cumbersome at first. I followed three people and my first post was to tell the world that I was out shopping in a Shopping Centre in Basildon!

But my earlier interest in TED and following of the wonderful talks that they had online led me to look up Chris Anderson. This is the man who I would place as the most important figure in transforming my interest in social media and its potential. He is the man who brought us TED and continues to see its growth worldwide. He also advertises the broadcasts via twitter and therefore I decided to follow him (@TEDchris).

I was surprised and pleased to get a personal post back via twitter from Chris. It was a long and detailed piece of advice on how to get the most from Twitter. It was nothing short of brilliant. I found out that Twitter was not just about sending details about where I happened to be and what I was doing. There was a powerful search facility that I could use to find out about interests. I could use a URL shortner to send links to brilliant sites I had seen or articles that I had read. I could retweet really fascinating Tweets that had powerful inks within them. I could talk to others from anywhere in the planet and I could become a part of communities.

I discovered that in my field of education there were some very interesting and involved indiviuduals who were pushing the boundaries of how to use Twitter as a powerful social networking tool. Of these people I would mention a few who have had a real influence on my developing consciousness on all this Shelly Terrell (@shellterrell) , Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_principal) and Steve Anderson (@web20classroom). These people were the originators and driving force of a Persoanl Learning Network called The Educator’s PLN ( which I joined and which was to introduce me to new ideas about the use of Twitter as a social networking tool and also to some more people to follow on Twitter.

As I followed more people I found an interesting thing was happening… more people were then following me! At first I didn’t really have much to say but I listened and read other people’s ideas. I then felt that I could comment on these or at least retweet them and eventually I began to add my voice (tentatively) to the ongoing discussion and debate that is Twitter at its best.

I have since joined in the wonderful online discussion called Edchat (#edchat) that takes place twice on a Tuesday (5 p.m. GMT and Midnight GMT here in Britain).

I got a real buzz from being in the thick of comments raining in about hot topics such as whether we should lengthen the school day or not.

I now have 1260  Followers (as I write) and I follow 1160 people including Barack Obama, Alfie Kohn my wife’s friend Jackie! (@TDUKcom). I have now embraced Google Plus where I have over 300 people in my Personal Learning Circle.

I have had the privilege of looking at some marvellous blogs with some excellent writing and amazing links to brilliant things. I therefore thought that the time was right for me to start collecting my own ideas, insights, links to really good things (in my opinion) and “put myself out there” for others to see and maybe get some ideas from (or strongly disagree with and want to state their own reflections on my ideas).

I have been writing my blog for two years now and continue to get great excitement from any feedback I get and from people tweeting about my posts. I have now written 439 posts with 320 hits registered on my best day (August 2011).

(With thanks to my brother Stan for pointing out typos and errors and requesting an update!)

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