My husband asked me today if my name was posted anywhere on this blog. I looked, and although my username kind of gives it away, it’s not. We started talking about the difference between an online professional learning network and one that could be created by joining the institutions of our grandparents. I like interacting online because I can connect with my PLN on my time, be it 11 PM or 5 AM. The anonymity afforded to me via asynchronous connections is also great, as I have trouble interacting with adults in real time. Throw me in a room with 30 teenagers and I’m fine, throw me in a room of judgemental adults, and I feel like I’m always saying the wrong thing. I can’t imagine joining the local Lions club or the Knights of Columbus. I tend to be brutally honest and straight forward, and social niceties often slip through my fingers.
But online networking has its pitfalls, too. Although I try to be as honest as I can online, nothing is stopping me from portraying me as an amazing teacher who never has any problems in her classroom. No one is going to check up on me to see if I am really flipping my classroom. No one would know if I just spent day in and day out, passing out worksheets and lecturing in class via powerpoint. In fact, since I don’t post my actual name or the school I teach at (or heck, even the state in which I teach), I might not be a teacher at all. I might be a 18 year old boy, just pretending to be a teacher. And so might you.