Connections make the world go round…

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So even before I did the readings for this week’s EC&I 831 class, I was planning on blogging about relationships. I am excited about how many connections that I am making virtually through this on- line class and hope to keep many of them in real life.

There was an article that came out this week about how only four of your Facebook friends are real friends. I have to say that I am very lucky that more than four of my Facebook friends are real friends, however most of my “real” friends live in other cities. I am a Facebook addict and use it to continue my relationships with my friends in other cities after I have moved away. Even before social media, it was always important to me to maintain my friendships. For me, one of the hardest things in the world is when friendships b break up. My preference is to keep friends for life. I even get offended when people ‘unfriend’ me on Facebook. I am very shy and feel that I can be way more outgoing when I am writing a short status or Tweeting than when I am trying to mingle face to face. That being said, I also love the face to face interactions and definitely crave them. Though I am on maternity leave I almost never stay home. I usually plan one or more things to get me out of the house every day. I really value relationships and tend to remember details about my friends and past acquaintances. I can still tell you when many of my high school friends’ birthdays are and I know when most of my current staff’s birthdays are as well.

Interestingly enough, one of the reasons that I moved back to Regina from Winnipeg is perhaps a strange one. I craved the social interactions and connectivity that I saw all my Regina teacher friends having on Facebook. Everyone seemed to know almost everyone else across the City and teachers who worked in many schools. In Winnipeg I worked at the largest school in the province and though I had very close friends at my school, I craved meeting teachers in other buildings to be able to network. We have been back for three and a half years and it has actually been a harder transition than I imagined. My husband gave up his amazing job to move back home for me and I miss my former co-workers even more than I realized I would. However, I am happy to be back home and making new connections and re-acquainting with the old ones. Facebook has been really helpful because in some cases I had kept people as friends even though I had not seen them in years.

We had talked about six degrees of separation in class and the idea fascinates me. I find it amazing when people who I know know each other, but I have no idea what the connection is. I found this cool video on YouTube:

Between Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media the way we connect and interact is changing. My friend posted this article the other day about why millennials aren’t answering the phone. I wasn’t exactly sure what the definition of millennial and assumed I wasn’t one, but I guess it depends on who you ask according to the link above 😉

Anyway, all this is to say if the way that my relationships work is changing then so are the relationships in our classrooms. Technology is changing the way students interact and letting them have a much broader social network. This can be be a very good thing (or a very bad thing in lots of cases, but I would rather stay focused on the positive for this post…) I have seen many positive examples of students using Skype, Twitter, FaceTime or Edmodo to interact with other students. I was also thinking about the population at my school and the fact that it can be a little transient. Technology would be a way for some of our students who move to stay connected to their friends. I also work with special needs students who cannot always communicate in traditional ways and technology lets them do so. I could write at least a whole other post on the use of technology for special needs students though.

In the end, technology has changed and is changing our relationships with each other. How can we as educators make sure that these evolving relationships are positive and beneficial instead of harmful to our students?