Dennis shares several of the online communities I roam in and while I don't always agree with what he says, I noticed his marked absence in a 'fight' about the use of technology in the classroom which had kicked off on one of them.
I was worried about him simply because he and his opinions weren't there. I've not met Dennis yet somehow, oddly, he has crept into my 'circle of people I care and think about.' I wondered if I should tweet and check that all was okay with him.
Later on, in the workshop (I was subbing for another trainer on a subject am not the expert in), when I told the trainees that a quick sos via my tweetdeck had provided all the research, materials and groundwork I needed for the session, they asked me to explain the value of Twitter.
A big old grin spread right across my face as I told them stories of Neal Chambers and his help with a techie problem, Scott Thornbury's bee-in-his-bonnet about IWBs vs Jeremy Harmer's, Seth Dicken's and Gavin Dudeney's wise retorts; Neal, Marisa and Tamas' story unveiling in 140 characters; Aniya's expresso machine and unending links.
Although I didn't tell them about Burcu's birthday cake, I thought about it and I felt happy.
Alright, I felt choked up.
I said, Twitter, like most of the online communities I belong to, has opened my life up to having conversations with other like-minded (and not like-minded) colleagues from all around the world and some of these are fast becoming my friends.
What is friendship? I questioned as I climbed back down the hill later on in the evening. Why have some of these people become as important to me as the real people I know?
Is it because I'm a nerd, who needs to get a 'real' life, as two list-members from this particular yahoo!group described people who use technology in their classes as?
And that is your speaking lesson tip for the week ahead.
Our students all have friends, in real life and some virtually, but what is it, exactly?
When virtually, how does it manage to cross the borders of physicality?
What about the friends they meet at work? Are they their friends simply because they see them everyday or because of shared interests?
How does one define friendship? Why do some people creep into our hearts before we have realized it? Do we choose our friends, do they choose us or does it just happen?
Ask them to describe the wonderful people in their life circles, how they met them and ask why friendships are the nearest thing to happiness.