Why Connecting is Cool

This week I’ve participated in two social media events that have inspired me and restored my faith in humanity.  Along with Andrew Carle, I help moderate the #makered Twitter chat on Tuesday evenings, which is growing since we started it in May.  The people that join this chat are smart and engaging, even in 140 character bursts.  Thanks to CSTA and EdCampSTEAM, I’ve now met some of these folks in person, which is often my goal with social media.  I either want to maintain a connection that started in person or extend a social media connection by meeting someone in person. The last 2 #makered chats have really gotten me thinking, which is what one wants from any interaction online.  We talk about stuff and projects, sure, but more importantly, we talk about philosophy and approach.  Making, we often argue, is not just about the stuff we make, it’s about the process.  It’s the same approach I take to Computer Science.  Yes, the end product is nice (hopefully), but the journey is more important to learning.  Honestly, I feel honored to be in the same virtual room with many of these folks and to be able to learn from them.

The second event spun out of the previous #makered chat.  We had a conversation about making in other disciplines.  STEM disciplines are often the target disciplines for making, and sometimes art in the form of STEAM.  But what if you teach English or History? How could use use the #makered approach there?  So, last night, we held a hangout to talk about just that.  There were only 5 of us, but it was a great conversation.  I learned a lot, especially from Valerie at the Detroit Public Library.  She had the benefit of not being tied down by the structure of school.  The rest of us were struggling with the usual issues related to interdisciplinary work: schedules, credits, politics, fiefdoms.  Andrew saw making across the disciplines as a direct challenge to those issues, and something we all should embrace rather than shy away from.  We talked about how to collaborate effectively while still challenging the status quo.  As Mike said at the end, “My brain is spinning.”  I agree.  I have a lot to think about and I’m looking forward to thinking about all the issues we raised.

And that was just in two days, two hours of my time that I got so much out of.  That’s why being connected online is so important to me.  It feeds my need for intellectually stimulating conversation.  It allows me to talk about things I might not get to at work (being the only one who does what I do, though I have plenty of colleagues who share my philosophy).  It inspires me to be better at what I do, to be constantly improving, basically to approach my whole career with a #makered philosophy.  How cool is that?