Navigating away from my comfort zone

It may surprise anyone who knows me (f2f or online), but I am a terrible networker. I am that person at the conference hugging the wall, studying my phone and looking for someone I actually know to talk to quickly before someone I don’t know strikes up a conversation.

And so, my current (and last) H818 module- The Networked Practioner- is really pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have learnt a lot since I started my Masters in Online and Distance Education, back in 2016 (!), not least, how to survive having twins and how to juggle 3 kids, full time work and part time education in a lockdown.

This module though is really rounding off and cementing in all of my masters learning. As I write, I think I really must do a post about where I was in 2016 and where I am now, because the difference is palpable.

For now, I am going to focus on H818, a module I have barely blogged about, a module I am over half-way through.

As you might expect, there is a focus on networking. That is, networking with peers. Including those you don’t actually know. For my project I have needed to ask the ed tech community for feedback and help on my project development and output. What I have learnt so far:

  • Word Press automatically changes hyphens to bullet points when it thinks you are writing a list
  • Unless you are an influencer with a massive following OR writing something incredibly controversial (and get piled on) the scatter-gun approach to Twitter posting doesn’t work.
  • Tagging people does work, but this presumes that you know who to tag in the first place.
  • Twitter DMs are great. I got in touch with some well respected professors and was blown away by the generosity shown to me, a part time masters student.
  • The ALT mailing list is much better for ed tech networking than Twitter. I was hesitant to use it for fear of spamming people, but I had 3 responses from people interested in my (theoretical) flipped learning website. I am confident I will have more responses when it’s not Christmas (what a time to try and network with people) and when I have an actual tangible website to show them.
  • Getting replies from people about your project is exciting and invigorating and makes you feel like you can change the world.

I also have learnt about giving and receving peer feedback on projects in development.

  • Getting feedback from peers can be painful at first, but you quickly become desensitised and see it for what it is, valuable constructive criticism.
  • Giving good feedback is time consuming and a learning process in itself. Also, it can be addictive. I loved seeing other peoples projects take shape, and I feel like I have really got to know my classmates in a much deeper way than on other modules. I want them all to succeed.
  • I recently checked to see how much feedback I had given and was shocked (and a little embarrassed) to see that I had replied to a whopping 137 comments.

What are my main takeways so far? I think what I have learnt will really help my career, I have taken myself out of comfort zone and emailed, Tweeted and DMed total strangers asking for help, asking to collaborate. Some of them replied and it was great! I have started to learn the true value of networking.

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