Over the past week, I've been trying to come to terms why Jabiz Raisdana's recent post, Be More Interesting, resonated so authentically for me. Although many of my colleagues differentiate their relationships depending on whether they take place in virtual spaces or in the physical world, my personal experience tells me that it is the blending of these two worlds that makes for the most meaningful connections of all. Having invested so much time and attention to my own networked learning, I find myself relishing the deepest of these professional learning connections (For more on this idea, see Deeper Connections Matter More).
Multiple interactions over time, when blended with occasional face-to-face meetings, results in a familiarity one might not expect. Now that technology has made it possible for both online and real world conversations to take place face-to-face, ongoing intellectual relationships might grow to be perceived as emotional connections. The more we come to know our online colleagues, the more we come to care about them. In many ways, these relationships of choice are more tantalizing than those relationships we experience by the coincidence of a shared staffroom.
After thinking, sketching, and thinking some more, I created a diagram to help me make sense of the professional learning connections I've made in recent years. Although the actual placement of items on the grid varies depends on many factors, it's clear that my relationships with those I've met face-to-face or voice-to-voice, tend be the deepest both intellectually and emotionally. Online colleagues like Jabiz, challenge me to think more deeply than most, in large part because I can see his gestures and hear his voice when I read his words.
Have we met face to face? If so, does it change the way you read this post? Which professional conversations are most compelling to you? Do your online relationships matter more or less than your relationships with local colleagues? Can you differentiate between those connections you make on the basis of an intellectual connection, and those where you feel emotionally invested?