Networking for a Better Education

If you thought online social networks were a waste of time, you might be interested to know that Twitter has just been voted the #1 learning tool for the fifth year in a row by the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies (CLPT). According to Jane Hart, founder of CLPT, a learning tool is “a tool for your own personal learning or one that you use for teaching or training.” The Top 100 learning tools list was compiled from the votes of over 500 learning professionals worldwide.

Here’s what one learning professional had to say about Twitter: “I use Twitter as a Personal Learning Network. I share daily information on resources and tools that I have found, and I select networks of people to follow that provide me with their tips, guidelines and tools that they have found.” And another: “Twitter is the most powerful professional development experience I have ever had.”

The fact that a once-derided micro-blogging service can command such devotion among learning professionals is a testament to how far social networking has come since the early days of MySpace and Facebook. It’s also a measure of the popularity of smartphones and tablets – devices that are particularly well-suited to on-the-go observations that are 140 characters or less!

The Top 100 learning tools list also featured a number of software tools for organizing and sharing educational content, including Articulate, Edmodo, Blackboard Learn, and the open source management system Moodle. Such collaboration tools are revolutionizing how educators connect with students and how students connect with each other. With these tools, coursework and homework blend seamlessly together, allowing for a far more structured learning environment.

And networking for a better educational experience doesn’t end with high school. Most higher education establishments have well-developed networks for both coursework and the social side of college life. Remember, Facebook was started in a Harvard dorm room!

After graduation, alumni associations can be an invaluable way to stay in touch with students and faculty, and even find a job. They also provide opportunities to give something back to your old school through mentoring programs and other voluntary work.

There have never been more opportunities to network for a better education and a career path that is both fulfilling and financial rewarding. The social networking skills that our kids learn today will prove invaluable for their futures!

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