The ConnectedCourses were discussing social capital and networks last week. Kira Baker-Doyle – Assistant Professor of Education, Arcadia University. Author of The Networked Teacher – started by explaining that one can own financial capital but not social capital. That is because your social capital is situated outside of yourself, in loose or dense networks.
Dense networks tend to be great for building trust and for sharing the same background and values while loose networks are more efficient for innovation and creativity as those networks link up people from different contexts.
These notions should be taken into consideration when thinking about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). On a practical level, such networks use tools such as Twitter but also blog networks and RSS feeds. Shelly Sanchez Terrell (Teacher Trainer, Instructional Designer, Author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers & Learning to Go) recommends to look for the right hashtag corresponding to your interests and the community you want to find. She pointed out that hashtags are not just used on Twitter but also on Facebook and Google+.
Howard Rheingold mentioned other methods such as the social bookmarking services Diigo and Delicious.
As Howard Rheingold explains in the video these networks are also about emotions and camaraderie. By signalling people indicate they are willing to collaborate. It’s a huge asset and of course it not only applies to educators.
Kira Baker-Doyle brought in another crucial element in building communities and networks: actually making something together.
Watch the video, other topics being discussed are the relationship between online and offline contacts, the importance of local connections and collaboration and the risk of burn-out. Also have a look at the course page about trust and network fluency.