Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Paying it forward

While reading Rheingold's chapter on social networking, I particularly liked his point in regards to paying it forward.  While the idea of paying it forward can encompass just about any interaction with good intentions towards another (which especially is on our minds during the holiday season) - he references the act when online.  How many times have you searched for answers online and found help from someone you never met before?  Probably countless times.  I know that my family members, friends, coworkers, etc. have learned how to do something they needed to know through Youtube or the like.  An excerpt from Rheingold's "NetSmart," reads:

"Another way to look at how online social capital works is the empirically validated value of paying it forward:  doing favors for strangers in a network with no anticipation of direct reciprocation.  I spend a lot of time answering email from students of virtual community studies all over the world - expecting no direct compensation.  When I know the answer to a question I see on Twitter or a blog, I often pause to post what I know.  I do it because I consider it my duty to improve the quality of discourse about social media, and I benefit from the efforts of others who feel the same sense of duty.  I want to signal to people who take the time to correct misinformation or answer a stranger's question that I appreciate their efforts and pay them forward."

My online presence is not very significant at this point, but I do benefit from people I personally know now or have know in the past.  I feel confidant that although I have fallen out of touch with some people, if I needed advice (especially regarding teaching) that they would be there for me.  A teacher I had in high school I see often, and he is as supportive a friend as he was a teacher.  He always encourages me, gives me advice when I ask, and remains a constant inspiration as to how I, as a teacher, might actually be fun, amusing, and give my students good memories.  I have many times told someone, "You see that guy over there?  He was one of my two favorite teachers.  Did I ever tell you about the time..." - you get the idea.  If I am going to teach, I want to be like him.  So here is my learning network which isn't online at present.  I have learned from my Digital Media class that new teachers can find lots of support online, which I'm sure I'll explore in the future.

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