It can be incredibly difficult to put yourself out there online for all the world to see—especially if you’re from a small town. People know your stories, even if they don’t actually know you, and that can be a tough concept to get your head around.
Bonnie Stewart, an active blogger and tweeter, excels at this. As a result, her approach to living her life in such an honest and raw way has led to many incredible opportunities. Always one to have a few projects on the go, she’s a social media researcher, educator, coordinator of adult teaching, and phD candidate at University of Prince Edward Island’s Faculty of Education. And if that all didn’t sound like enough, she’s also a mother of two small children.
Bonnie started blogging in 2006. By promoting her blog on Twitter, she was soon getting invited to blogging conferences where today she can be heard delivering keynotes on topics ranging from networks and social media to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). In addition to her public speaking, Bonnie does consultation work with education systems, speaking about how networks and institutions intersect.
Sitting down to talk with Bonnie wound up being a bit of an adventure. Her enthusiasm was infectious as we touched on a variety of topics, ranging from her family, creativity and discovery, David Bowie, social media best practices and the barriers facing women, to name but a few.
From concept to launch, one of the biggest challenges Bonnie says in any project is figuring out the terms of success. For example, the terms of success in academia are very different than terms of success in business, so this process takes practice.
In 2015, she’ll be finishing up her phD and will likely face some major life decisions. She’s an author with articles published in Salon.com, The Guardian UK and Inside Higher Ed, among others, and a respected public speaker appearing at BlogHer, LinEdu and Connect 2013. She’s also been teaching in both higher education institutions and online since 1998. So what will her focus be after she challenges her phD? Only time will tell.
Bonnie describes each of the projects that she works on in any given day as pieces to the puzzle, and is glad when her work gives people a new way to think about social media tools: “When I get the sense that people have been changed, what they think or how they relate to something has changed, that their toolkit that they use has been changed by the work that I am doing, that is success.”
**update 2016** Bonnie successfully defended her phD and is now known to the world as Dr. Bonnie Stewart.
“When I realized a few years ago I was never going to do it all in life, there was something freeing about that; about letting go of the potential of ‘everything’ and deciding: ‘This is enough, this place, this family, this path—bumpy and meandering though it is, it’s mine.’”