I like to think of myself as a great networker. I love to connect to people all over the world, to share ideas, get to know them and their perspectives, to collaborate, to learn, to have fun….
Thinking back to a day in 1998 when I asked, or better begged my parents to let me have the internet. It sounds so funny now, but the costs involved were substantial. Sign-up fees, connection charge, per minute charge, monthly charge and that on a very simple 133 Mhz computer with Windows 95. It was as it sounds: horrible! But at the time it allowed me to connect to people who shared my interests. At that time it was mainly bands and music. I signed up to message boards and visited regular chatrooms. It sounds weird now, but it was a great time. And expensive.
In 2000 that is how I met my husband! Through a friend we both had, we connected online, because we had a shared interest: moving to London. We met a few months later and the rest is history. But for years that story still made people frown.
Now, lots of people meet online. Not only couples, but friends, collaborators. We use social networks, we blog, we have changed a lot since that day in 1998.
Back to the point of networking. My first real networking experience was my degree in Learning, Technology and Research, which was conducted entirely online. Looking back on it, the communities of practice that came out of this were stunning. Not only did the cohorts connect, people within the cohort, and similar jobs/interests connected. People beyond the cohorts connected in interest groups. The sheer amount of collaboration that happened, the learning and the sharing of good practice was unbelievable. It was more, bigger and better than at any traditional university.
In December I went to Cardiff to attend a meeting on networking (well, partly) at the IB. There I learned about the amazing networks in Australia. PYP schools connecting and working together. I was painfully aware that the PYP in Italy meeting in May 2009 could have been the start of something like it. I contacted one of the initiators of the meeting, Jane Andrews, and I hope to meet with her soon to discuss and share my ideas. Sometimes it takes a bit of an initiative and risk-taking to start something worthwhile.
The schools in Switzerland also meet. I have known so for a while, but just came across a post about an upcoming meeting in May by Jax Webb on the PYP Threads Ning. I wonder if it would be possible to attend, and see how different networks function.
Anyway, networking is going to be something I will continue to explore throughout this year. Lets hope that it takes off!