Local Over Global Network Building

I’ve been thinking more and more about the networks/communities we build using technology. My experience at Educon had me thinking even more about it as several of the attendees discussed building global networks vs. local networks. Reading about the Science Leadership Academy’s culture you’ll see that local communities of learners (educators included) without the focus on making global connections can be extremely powerful for learning.

As I read more I’m finding that there is power in the using all these tools available to us on the web for connecting with those in our areas. A recent article in Wired Magazine states (substitute educational words where appropriate):

One day, perhaps, virtual communication will become so good we’ll no longer feel the need to shake hands with a new collaborator or brainstorm in the same room. But for now, the world seems to be changing in a way that actually demands more meetings. Business is more innovative, and its processes more complex. That demands tacit knowledge, collaboration, and trust — all things that seem to follow best from person-to-person meetings. “Ideas are more important than ever,” Glaeser says, “and the most important ideas are communicated face-to-face.”

I’ve always hailed the power of having global connections and I will continue to do so, but I now believe a lot more time and energy should be put towards building our local connections and sharing the power of these tools to collaborate locally or regionally. Connecting with folks from places around the country or world is powerful for sure, but what of the immediate connections here at home? It’s one thing to show a nay-sayer administrator or colleague how a classroom is connecting with another in a remote location, but another to show how several local classrooms are collaborating to take on an authentic environmental or cultural issue in their local area. Wouldn’t we all benefit from building stronger connections that add value to what we are doing locally?

In terms of professional networks, I like the concept of the regional PLP. This is an opportunity for us to connect with each other, share thoughts and ideas, build blogs to share information/projects to join, ask questions and lend support for each other. It’s our chance to really set an example for the rest of our region and local districts to take a look at what is possible in the new learning environments that we are exploring here.

Photo Credit: Nebraska Library Commission

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