Monday, September 30, 2013

Are you a connected educator?

Tomorrow begins connected educators' month. And, though I am proud to say I have many teachers on my campuses who integrate technology and who are excited to learn and try new things, they are not connected. In fact, we have a lot of little pockets of innovation. And, that I think is what makes connected educators' month so important - it promotes sharing and networking so that we are no longer merely pockets, but communities. If one teacher is avidly using Edmodo and collaborating with schools across the world, should he or she be on their own island or should that information be shared so others can join it? I'd like to think that information should be shared. In this age, it is not what we as individuals know that makes us successful, it's what our network knows. Being a connected educator is about creating and growing a strong network.

When we think about our students who need assistance, do we provide them with just one teacher? No, we give them an entire support system because, one individual's knowledge and abilities is not near as strong as a support community. Likewise, that same ideology must be practiced within professional development.

I am working with some other connected educators on several smaller edtech connect projects. However, in a recent discussion, we realized we could not find many teachers who were actually connected educators. We could find many in our profession - instructional technology - who were, but few who were in  the classroom. Why is that? Why is it that our classrooms still continue to be their own islands in so many ways? When we look at Twitter - a great way for connecting - I think many educators are under a different perception. Twitter is viewed as a spot to share random thoughts and ideas as opposed to a place to get ideas, engage in educational discussions, and teach educational skills. In fact, it is a great tool (since word counts are limited) for teaching main idea. However, because of the news publicity, Twitter sometimes gets a bad rap and as a result, educators steer clear of it. Many places where educators could connect are perceived as dangerous or as crossing a fine line (Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, etc.). How can we teach educators to use these tools and resources to connect and break down barriers?


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