Last Friday, May 20 at 12pm MST, I signed on to Twitter and joined my first professional twitter chat: #GuildChat. The eLearning Guild does a different topic every Friday at this same time. There may have been 10 people participating in real time and a few after the hour was over. What I found was that I was engaged, connected, and encouraged by the network of experienced professionals.
Why Was I Engaged?
During the full hour of #GuildChat, I found myself searching for knowledge, bookmarking what others’ were sharing, and following other chat participants. This is a stark difference from the creepy AIM chat rooms that once were meant to accomplish the same thing in the early 2000’s. Everyone using the hashtag for the chat was polite, professional, and personable. I believe this is why I was engaged: everything was relevant and human. It may also be possible that those who were spending their lunch hour doing a professional Twitter chat were also motivated to give and take just as I was.
In What Ways Did I Feel Connected?
First, the eLearning Guild put together a thought provoking set of questions about the importance of engaging with the learning community. We explored ideas of benefits to engaging, ways to engage, and barriers people encounter to engaging. One barrier @NicoleJuliana78 mentioned was being timid or uncertain in how to engage or how others will react. I have experienced fear of participating because of not knowing much or being a “newbie”. This brings me to my second way I felt connected, there was a sense of camaraderie in the chat. Everyone answered the questions genuinely and interacted with others regardless of extent of experience or reputation. I felt included in a community of professionals who have been creating eLearning for years and may even have high levels of influence on the field due to their innovation. Third, I work in an office where I am the only Learning Designer or Instructional Design Specialist. I find myself having to insert my skills and knowledge into projects and processes that have been in place for 15 years. The transition has been long and I have grown throughout the experience. But, I feel as though I am missing a learning design mentor.
How Was I Encouraged?
By engaging with the online eLearning community, I felt connected with people who could be mentors or provide examples of good instructional design. I feel there is a place for me to go for help with #GuildChat and the people I am not connected with.