Archive for December, 2022

Social media is ever-evolving, although, as of late, some see it as de-evolving. As an educator, I was an early adopter and advocate for social media as a tool for professional collaboration, and development. I began using America Online (AOL) and MySpace back in the day and that was basically my introduction and exploration of social media. I moved along to Facebook for friends and family connections. After getting comfortable with the idea of social media, I started using LinkedIn, a professional social media application, to link up with many other educators who were somewhat tech-savvy. I connected with educators directly, as well as created several LinkedIn groups specifically for educators. I created a NING site called The Educator’s Professional Learning Network that: housed specific education groups, announced events, archived hundreds of education-based videos, and podcasts and it allowed individual connections for over twenty-two thousand educators to collaborate. 

Along with all this, I began to explore Twitter as an additional source of educator collaboration. In addition to direct exchanges of information, I used it to move traffic to my other collaborative sites. All of these social media applications added to what would become known as my Professional Learning Network (PLN) a compilation of collegial sources from around the world used for the purpose of education collaborations in addition to social interactions. This took education beyond the impact of the invention of the old Guttenberg Press, enabling digital publishing. Collaboration was possible from anywhere at any time. Twitter took me from tweeting to blogging, to podcasting, and finally to authoring two books.

My collaboration was extended around the world. Between all of the social media applications, of which I was a part, I found myself in contact with well over 100 thousand people, mostly educators, giving my thoughts and ideas with a reach in the millions. It was a scary responsibility, which required me to be more thoughtful in everything that I would say, or do in regard to my connections. Through this PLN, I was able to speak with and get to know authors, thought leaders, and iconic educators that I could never have imagined even meeting let alone collaborating with before social media made it all possible. 

Throughout this social media adventure in my winter years as an educator, many of the platforms could not keep up with change and finally fell away. Some. like Twitter, adapted and survived. Twitter doubled its tweet size from 140 characters to 280. Twitter chats went on to be used by people in many specific areas in education. The original #Edchat Twitter chat has actively continued for over 13 years!

Twitter has been a mainstay for interaction and collaboration for educators and as we enter into a new year, it may or may not continue to do so. The recent change in ownership has many educators questioning their use of the platform. There are concerns about trust, as well as moral and ethical responsibility. Additionally, there is a great concern about Twitter’s longevity. Will it be around to support educators in their collaboration? 

Currently, I have a Twitter network of over 82,000 educators who I cannot just leave hanging. As such though, I may only continue on Twitter for a while longer.  I need to simultaneously enlist another platform to protect my collegial sources if Twitter should instantly close down. My trust has been shaken, and my community of educators which was built up over more than a dozen years has been threatened. I need to migrate to another, more stable platform with as many members of my PLN as I may convince to join me in the adventure.

Thus, I have set out to find a platform capable of providing the ability to collaborate using text, pictures, audio, video, and much more. It also needs to be a safe environment capable of handling a massive amount of people from around the world. Hate speech needs to be monitored and dealt with to preserve moral integrity. Hopefully, the platform will continuously evolve to address the need for improving and expanding collaboration.

I believe I have found that platform.  A former APPLE engineer has developed a unique user-focused social media application that goes to the next level of creating virtual communities. It is called uSync, and it has been available for less than a month, so it is still adding to its already extensive capabilities. I have been talking with the founders of the platform, and I am confident that it is what I have been looking for in order to build a bigger and better education community where we can safely collaborate with confidence. Click here to see a complete explanation of the purpose and mission of uSync from its founder and CEO Darrell Lynn.

I have found the uSync staff to be open to suggestions for change and improvement to meet the needs of the broader community.  At its core, uSync is a platform that is like a combination of several existing social media platforms, all in one place. Like any social media platform, one has to experience it to begin to understand its potential. 

Right now, my plan is to guide people as they explore uSync, to work together to build our new EDU PLN. Like any other technology, as we use it, we will “get it” and find ways to build a rich ecosystem full of resources. One difference with uSync is that it has a one-time purchase price of $3.99. This is a small price to pay for an environment where there are NO ADVERTISEMENTS and NO SELLING OF USER LISTS. It will be money well spent, considering the access you will have to the many tools of collaboration.  

If you have an interest in joining me in this new collaborative community of educators on a highly ethical and safe platform, I have included my personal invitation in the QR code below in this post for your convenience. My mission at this point is to get all of the educators I am connected with to migrate to this site and join the #Edchat Connected Educators Group

 Personal invitation to uSync from Tom Whitby

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