Networked Learning – transcending physical contact

Gone are the days when one’s network is limited to the people in one’s life – neighbors, classmate, colleagues at work etc – these days, the term ‘network’ transcends physical contact. The advent of the internet brought along social media and its platforms. Chief among social media platforms is Twitter. Twitter has become such a powerful information dissemination platform that the President of the United States (Donald Trump) frequently shares information of national importance on it. And if anyone was ever doubting the capability of these social media platforms, I’m sure they would have been convinced by now.

Today, academics are latching on to this trend, and are increasingly expanding their network beyond physical contact. Many professors now have a website or blog where they post regularly. Since I started my Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, I have been required to blog for at least three different classes. These blogs have usually been “our class outside of the class,” where we would post and comment on other people’s post. To be sincere, at first it was difficult – I did not want to put myself out there, I did not want to be judged, and when I summoned the courage to write, I realized how difficult it was to put pen to paper.

As an academic (or emerging academic I should say), I am aware of the capability of these social media platforms to disseminate information to a wide readership, however, I would admit, I still do not consider myself to have joined the bandwagon of bloggers (or regular bloggers I should say). While I started blogging in 2017, and having blogged regularly over a period of time, I still do not feel like a ‘real blogger.’ I consider real bloggers as those who enjoy the art of blogging and blog out of their own volition. I, on the other hand, blog for classes, and there was a time I blogged for a job I got over the Summer of 2017.

However, after watching the short youtube video by Seth Godin and Tom Peters, I have decided to really take this on – and not just for GRAD 5114course, but more like a hobby, something I do regularly. I have been one to criticize the capability of academic publications/journals to reach many of the audiences they are mainly meant for. Many of these journals are not accessible to the people who really need the information in them. Findings of academic research mainly circulate among the academic realms – in conferences and for individuals’ personal scholarship. For example, as a leadership educator, I conduct research that makes recommendations for stakeholders such as business managers. And I begin to think to myself, how many business managers subscribe to a journal for recent scholarship in leadership? I’d guess very few. However, what if I blog about my findings, present them in non-technical language and share them on Twitter to say millions of followers (well, this may be a little aspirational)? I think I’d be reaching more people and making more impact. And based on this realization, I have decided to start blogging actively again, even if nobody reads it – it is free after all.