I am extremely excited that August is Connected Educator month. In my opinion, being a connected learner, leader, and/or educator is no longer an option. My personal and professional journey in this area is well documented and something that I regularly present on. When I think back to my life as an educator prior to becoming connected, I can honestly say that I was isolated, naive, and definitely not as well rounded as I am today.
Image credit: http://mswaughsclass.blogspot.com/2011/04/21st-century-classroom.html
Here is my quick list of reasons why all educators should become connected and form their own Personal Learning Network(PLN):
- We become the epicenter of our learning and determine what, where, and when we want to learn. This makes the learning process meaningful, relevant, applicable, and convenient. With these structures in place, the foundation is established to unleash passion, creativity, and a pursuit of innovation to do what we do better. Connectedness and control of our learning provide each of us with the ability to determine our own path and to differentiate to meet each of our diverse learning needs.
- This type of learning is fueled by intrinsic motivation, which is the most pivotal ingredient essential to life-long learning, growth, innovation, and sustainable change.
- Access to a wealth of free resources. Using tools to share and acquire resources expands our horizons. Many educators, including myself a few years ago, don’t even know what tools exist, let alone how they can enhance the teaching and learning process.
- A two-way mechanism for constructive feedback, support, and advice. In my mind this is priceless. No longer do we need to feel like we inhabit isolated islands in our respective positions.
- You do not have to pay for this powerful opportunity to grow. All it costs is an investment of time, which you ultimately determine.
- The ability and means to connect with the best minds in the field of education. One of the most amazing attributes associated with social media is that it makes the world a much smaller place. You can now connect with world-renowned educational researchers or experts from your living room. Possibly even more powerful is the ability to learn from actual practitioners doing the same job as you. Accessibility to these ideas, strategies, and collective knowledge from both of these groups will ultimately make you a better educator. Silos of information become a thing of the past.
Your PLN will provide you with the seeds of change, but is up to you to plant, take care of, and cultivate them in order to witness their growth and development into transformative culture elements. If you do, it will not take long before these seeds of change mature and begin to bear fruit by becoming embedded, sustainable components of the school culture and your professional growth. with the tools that are now available connectedness should be the standard, not just an option in education.
What do you think are some of the benefits of becoming connected that I might not have touched on? Can we afford not to become connected? Please share your thoughts. Below are some more resources to either help you get connected and/or strengthen the connections that you arealdy have.
- Communicating and Connecting With Social Media (Bill Ferriter, Jason Ramsden, Eric Sheninger)
- Pinterest board of PLN resources
- The Connected Educator (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Lani Ritter Hall)
- Personal Learning Networks (Will Richardson, Rob Mancabelli)