Bluntly stated, and with almost comedic dead pan, that line was delivered during a session on Web 2.0 tools and Social Media that I was presenting at the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Annual NCAIS TECH conference a few weeks ago. The attendee, a development professional, was clearly struggling with the conversation that morning as it turned toward personal learning networks and the role that social media tools, like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook play in the lives of those who have succumbed to the allure of these trees of knowledge.

In that moment I certainly could have gone in a variety of directions with that comment; either looking to dismiss the question or prove a point. Rather, I gently offered the analogy that personal learning networks are simply the best of what the six degrees of separation has to offer. And while I probably did not do it justice at the time as I’ve reflected on that day I’ve come to realize that that is exactly the proper way to address the doubting Thomas who has yet to come to grips with why people blog, tweet, or update walls.

 

Why? If you stop to consider what it means to be part of a

Example - Six Degrees of Separation

personal or professional learning network, or as I prefer one’s “learning ecosystem”, you quickly realize that these ecosystems thrive because of four very distinct members. You have your contributors – who offer content, your connectors – who link people together, your lurkers – who take the knowledge and use it to better themselves without giving back and your casual passers-by — who fall between the contributors and lurkers. Without these four distinct and critical members any type of learning ecosystem would cease to exist and social media and P.L.N.’s are certainly no different.

 

Consider this; Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book The Tipping Point “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social skills.” The same holds true for learning ecosystems; where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole and without each individual member one’s own learning ecosystem would wither and die.

 

Therefore, the next time someone asks “who cares” when asking about social media and learning ecosystems make sure you tell them that while they might not, their best friend’s brother’s wife’s colleague’s sister just might find what you are talking about important to them. And if that’s the case make sure to remind them to pass it on; they just might make a difference.

 

-Jason Ramsden

Follow Jason on twitter @raventech or on his blog Raventech Reveals

Jason Ramsden

Chief Technology Officer at Ravenscroft School

Beginning a career in independent schools in 1991, Jason Ramsden brings 23 years of experience to his role as Chief Technology Officer for Ravenscroft School. For the last 17 years Mr. Ramsden has dedicated his career to improving technology in independent schools both on the instructional and infrastructure levels. A co-author of "Communicating and Connecting with Social Media" from Solution Tree, Mr. Ramsden is presently a member of NAIS' 21st Century Curriculum/Technology Task Force, a contributing writer for edSocialMedia.com and a Board Member for Triangle Learning Community Middle School. Previously, he has been a SAIS/SACS Visiting Team Member (2013, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006), had founded NCAIS' Commission on Technology (2008), was a member of NCAIS' Technology Conference Planning Committee (2006 - 2011), and founded the TAIS Technology Directors Association (2005). Prior to his appointment at Ravenscroft in the Fall of 2006, he served as: Technology Manager, The Hill Center, Durham, NC (2003 – 2006) Network Admin & Tech Support Mgr., Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT (1999 – 2003) Director of Technology, Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY (1997-1999) Associate Director of Admissions, Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY (1994-1997) Director of Admissions and Public Relations, Xavier High School, New York City (1991 – 1994) Mr. Ramsden holds a Master of Science in Education, Administration and Supervision from Fordham University and a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola College in Maryland.

http://www.jasonramsden.com