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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Power of Pocket Communities

NHL Playoff Kickoff Party
One of the practical joys of 21st-Century learning is participating in pocket communities. I'm not talking about cozy suburban neighbourhoods with low taxes. Instead, it's my term for Twitter, Ning, Flickr, Wiki, and other online communities you take with you on your smartphone.

Unlike the first generation of web-enabled phones, smartphones actually make the net usable and pocket communities possible.

It's one thing to sit tethered to your desktop or laptop as you trade tips, links, and tweets with friends. It's quite another to follow a workshop, conference, #edchat, or local PD event while at the hockey rink or standing in line at the Safeway.

The ability to carry hundreds of online friends in your jeans, shirt, purse or backpack is really quite empowering. And your vicarious presence at their PD events by monitoring live blogs, streams, tweets, or Ning activity is a gift the community gives to you. After all, your pocket version of a conference tweetboard through Twitterfall is just as useful as the one they're looking at in the hotel lobby half a world away.

With the new Qik and Ustream apps available for the iPhone you can become a broadcaster in minutes and share great PD sessions with your followers and friends. And if you've never tried voice Skyping from the iPhone, you're clearly in for a surprise.

Relationships in online communities define us in a way. We can share with some of the smartest and most engaging people on the planet. We can mentor and be mentored by people we've never met.

The beauty is that now, we can take these friends with us wherever we go, and when we do meet in person, we're all the richer for it.

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