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My online spaces.

New academ

This is the third in a mini-series of posts that aim to share my preparations for the new academic year.  If there’s something in particular that you’d like to know about, contact me using the button found at the top-right.

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As a geographer, I am interested in space.  In particular, how different spaces can make you feel and act differently.  There have been a few blog posts over the summer that have either shared ‘thinking spaces’ or argued for one on-line space.  I know that I’m often asked about the difference between my use of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the like. 

This post aims to share my use of three online spaces and the way in which they have different uses.  Dividing my space like this allows me to ‘shut out’ work if I want to and allows me more time to reflect / do what I want / create.  I would disagree with those who argue that all you need is a blog as it’s important to consider different audiences.  My online presence is different (at least that is my aim!) in different spaces.

Although I admit that this is what works for me, my advice to any teacher starting out would be to compartmentalise

I intend to write a second post about my thinking spaces.

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Facebook is my ‘personal’ online space.  I can control who can see the information.  I also have friends and family spread all over the place, so it’s a great way to share news with those who are interested.  I also like the way in which I can stay in touch with old friends and know what they are up to.  I am friends with people in work, but very rarely talk / post about work.  I am not friends with those that are above me in the school hierarchy.

As someone who is very unorganised, Facebook allows me to (re)connect and maintain the connections that are important to me. For me, I have more contact with mates and family because of Facebook.

For me, Facebook is a personal space.  I have friends who work for the Police who are now off Facebook, and I would urge any person new to the teaching profession to think very carefully over their use of the site.  For example, are your potential future employers / parents / pupils able to view your profile? If they can, would they be impressed?

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This blog is has a foot in both my professional and personal space.  It’s my reflective space.  Because it is online, I think carefully about what I write (most of the time Winking smile ). It’s a place to direct people to and a record of what I’ve been up to.

There are fewer posts about personal adventures recently and this is something to address soon.

I would encourage any teacher to create a Blog in order to reflect upon and share your triumphs, risks, failures and ideas.  Looking back and reading past posts is an incredible thing to do!

It’s also useful as a place to file ideas and lessons.  Having a blog also allows you to take control of your online identity, something that is very important as a teacher.

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Twitter is mainly my professional space.  It’s a space to connect and share.  I don’t see twitter as a reflective space because of the pace and restrictive character count.  It is a gold mine of resources, links, opinions and knowledge with which to inform practice and reflection.

It’s also a great place for professional banter.  For me, Twitter has helped to break down the barriers between myself and those whose work I admire.  How was this possible? Banter.

I have to admit that it did take me a while to figure out what it was all about.  It took a fair amount of interaction before I started to really see the benefit.  The investment was worth it though.  The connections that have been created feel like an equal playing field.  For me, Twitter has taken over spaces like forums, where cliques can develop. 

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I do inhabit other online spaces – I like the fact that most of what I need is online and accessible from a multitude of devices.  Details can be found on my about.me page

In conclusion, separating the three main online spaces that I use is important to me.  It keeps work where it should be ( I also keep work emails separate and not accessible easily via my phone). The real benefit of this approach became evident over the summer.  I reduced my use of Twitter, but maintained my connections through Facebook. It’s for this reason that I have never linked my Facebook and Twitter accounts. As mentioned above, they have different audiences.

Sometimes, you just need to switch off.

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