Monday, December 18, 2017

Old Friends, New Friends, Virtual Friends

I've had a very meta-cognitive week, because I've spent a lot of time talking about my teaching and thinking practices. I wrestled with composing a test using the IWB "clickers" and facing/correcting my own biases, shared the planning and results of my "How do things go viral?" lesson for my final Media AQ course on Friday, and discussed my process of blogging and my passion for Twitter with participants in the Leadership and Mentorship AQ courses on Saturday. I want to take some time to stop navel-gazing and turn my focus outward, to other people.

Old Friends

I received an email out of the blue from a dear friend of mine all the way on the other side of the country. I haven't seen Joanie Proske in person since 2011, when she came to Toronto to present at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference. She and I first met when we were both part of the excellent Teacher-Librarianship via Distance Learning program at the University of Alberta. She holds a special place in my affections because, back in 2010 when I was struggling with writing my capping paper, she was the person who provided encouragement and chunked her instructions to me, peppered with descriptive feedback, so that I was able to properly use citations. We caught up with what's happening in each others' lives, and I'm thrilled that she is still developing her virtual library, which was the topic of her 2010 capping paper and her 2011 OLA presentation. Her perseverance and dedication is paying off with her students.

This is a photo of June, me, and Joanie in Edmonton, TL-DL grads, circa 2010.

I also got a needed nudge from another very old friend - as in, Faculty of Education Pre-Service days old. Wendy Rodriguez Kaell responded to my Facebook post about reconnecting through Christmas cards and challenged me to bump it up a notch by trying to schedule an in-person get-together. She even volunteered to resurrect an old tradition among our university friends of the "New Years Eve Eve party", begun by Robin and Angela McCabe in the last century! I'm making a visit a priority, Wendy. (I've been meaning to make a scrapbook with all the photos I collected from the various NYEE parties since they first began in 1996 but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Below are a couple from the very first year - do you recognize me in any of them?)

New Friends

When you meet people, you never know who will continue to keep in touch. At Saturday's "speed mentoring / speed leadership" session, I was able to chat with Amani (Kurt). He was so eager and enthusiastic and by the end of the morning had a brand-new Twitter account and a post already up. I suggested some people for him to follow. I mentioned that Twitter seems like just one big thing, but that a lot depends on the people you follow, and I encouraged people to diversify their Twitter following list. If you just have teachers on your follow list, then you are part of "EduTwitter". If you follow those into ICT, then you are part of "EdTechTwitter". "Black Twitter" also exists, and it is from there that some ideas emerge and grow before exploding onto mainstream news. (Think abut the recent news, which we talked about with the Grade 6-7-8s at school as part of media class, about the Tennessee bullied boy whose mother posted a video of him to YouTube - it was later discovered that there were some concerning underlying elements to the family background that made people question their initial support, including financial support.) I liked how Amani said, "Get me to that Black Twitter".
Administrators are also learners too, and I got to spend time with Brian, who is a VP. We had some one-on-one Twitter PD, recovered his password, merged his dual accounts, updated his profile and had a great discussion about appropriate photos to post.
Thanks to all the people I met at that Saturday AQ, like Anu, Lisa, and so many others!
Virtual Friends

I don't like it when people say that "virtual friends aren't real friends". My husband, who games via Google Hangouts with people all over the world, would disagree. My friends that I met on a Twilight fan forum nearly a decade ago (Rummanah, Leanne, Donna, Brooke, Stacy, Luisa, Shannan, Sarah, Jennifer, Brandi, Wendee, Julie, Maggi, Angela, Molly, Debbie, and Paul - I'm looking at you!) would also disagree with the statement "virtual friends aren't real friends". The world is changing and although all media are constructions and the media constructs reality, I believe it is possible to grow friendships online. These can sprout from spontaneous conversations (like the one below, where I responded to a post Kory Graham made linking to an article). It means some new people to follow, and maybe to learn from, and maybe to get to know a bit better.
We never know who will positively influence us or remain in our lives for more than a moment, but I'm grateful for the time to find out! Thanks to all these friends and potential friends!


  1. Yea! And we are both IRL and OL friends! *HUGS*

  2. Thank you for being my sounding board, support and my friend! Have a wonderful holiday season.

  3. Woo Hoo! So wonderful to reconnect with such a vibrant friend and amazing TL. I've had a blast reading through your blog posts and admiring your wacky ideas and zest for authentically incorporating technology into your library teaching. You inspire me! Joanie

  4. Wonderful to reconnect with you, Diana. I've had a blast exploring your blog and am inspired by the amazing and wacky learning going on in your library. You are a rock star!