Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meeting My Skype Buddy

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2009, was to get into social media and learn how to build my personal learning network (PLN). By the summer of that year, I was feeling pretty comfortable with Twitter and Nings. I decided my next step was to find another like-minded teacher and figure out how I could connect our classes.

Enter Jan Wells, a fourth grade teacher from Kansas. Jan and I "met" on a Ning hosted by Jen Wagner. We both joined the Skype Buddies group on that Ning, and I responded to a discussion Jan had posted. We chatted back and forth on the discussion thread and realized we were very similar in our approach to teaching in our classrooms. We exchanged email addresses and eventually started IMing each other on Skype. By the time school started that year, we had a very rough plan for connecting our classes through Skype and projects hosted through Projects by Jen. We became Skype buddy classes. You can read more about our Skype adventures here.

Since 2009, Jan and I have been Skype buddy classes, presented together several times for virtual conferences, backchanneled on the Classroom 2.0 Live webinars, and interacted on Twitter. Fast forward to ISTE12 in San Diego. For the first time in our three year relationship, Jan and I met face to face at the San Diego airport. She flew in from Kansas on Sunday and decided to wait for my arrival. When I landed several hours later, we had a joyous "reunion". Yes, it was a reunion, because we had built such a strong relationship online thanks to social media. We were like two high school friends reconnecting at a class reunion. We picked up our conversation right where we had left off on Twitter for the days preceding our trips to San Diego.
Jan Wells Meeting at San Diego airport

We were picked up at the airport by Tim Gwynn and went to the hacienda where 15 members of our PLN are staying during our week at ISTE. It still amazes me how my connections on social media (mostly Twitter) have lead to some unbelievable opportunities and personal interactions with so many wonderful educators from around the world.

What wonderful opportunities have unfolded for you because of social media? Have you had one-of-a-lifetime experiences because of your PLN?