October is Connected Educators month. If you’re reading this post my guess is you are already a connected educator to some degree because you are, at the very least, someone who is opening the door to the ideas of others. It’s quite possible you stumbled across this post on Twitter, Scoop.It or Pinterest. And it’s likely that you might pass it along to others through the various networks in your own Professional Learning Community.
As a connected educator myself, I feel compelled to share some of my favorite ways to collaborate and connect. Because it’s hard to know where to begin to share, I decided to base my framework on the ideas of the work of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall, the authors of The Connected Educator, Learning and Leading in a Digital Age and some of the leaders of Connected Educators Month.
Here is an interactive graphic that identifies the 5 characteristics of a connected educator with links to examples and resources to help make those connections. Of course, there are many tools that could be used for each of the characteristics listed and the tools I’ve chosen are somewhat interchangeable among categories, but here is a starting point for becoming a connected educator.
Twitter: The Ultimate Tool for a Connected Educator
Twitter is an efficient tool that allows educators to learn, share and connect through short bursts of information that are limited to 140 characters or less. Users can quickly skim content and click on links or reply to a Tweet to learn. Twitter is at the heart of many connected educator’s PLNs, including mine, because it is a starting point for so much more. If you think you don’t have time for Twitter, please think again. Many Educators who use Twitter believe we don’t have time not to use this resource. In my opinion, Twitter is the essential tool for a connected educator!
Simple K12 for Do-It Yourself Learners
One of the best ways to take control of your own PD is to take advantage of webinars. Simple K12 is a connected learning community featuring a wealth of webinars on tech integration topics that are designed for educators at all comfort levels. The webinars are hosted by real educators. Members can view live webinars and collaborate with each other in real time. They can also view webinars on demand, in their pjs, and take advantage of the pause button to adjust the pace of the webinar to meet their needs. To kick it up a notch, content is bundled into packages of comprehensive resources on a variety of hot and useful topics. There is a repository for shared resources and opportunities to connect with other members within the SimpleK12 community. Educators can sign up for free to test the waters, but full access membership is a paid service.
Blog to Open the Door to the Ideas of Others
Following the blogs of others is a way to get new ideas and consider different perspectives. Commenting on blog posts is a fairly risk-free way to connect with others. Becoming a blogger yourself is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to become a connected educator. For many educators, blogging can become an essential part of our workflow, requiring us to dig deeper, engage in research, experiment with the unknown, and reflect. Sharing experiences and resources invites others to connect and helps build our own PLN.
Google+ for Collaborative Learners
In September of this year, Google Plus announced that it had 400 million active members, making it one of the most active and fastest growing social networks since its launch in 2011. Perhaps the reason Google+ is so popular is because of the way Google has integrated a social network on top of it’s many other existing services. Google+ is not only convenient, it is unique. Users can create circles, join interest groups and hangout in real time. There is a lot of conversation and collaboration going on in Google+.
MentorMob: A Network of Collected Wisdom
MentorMob is a social learning platform where users capture content with the click of a button and organize it into learning playlists that can be shared and modified. It’s a great example of collected wisdom that is organized and ready for use by others. It’s a place where everyday experts document and share their expertise for the benefit of everyone. The site is filled with playlists for teaching and learning just about anything, and those playlists can be copied and modified for reuse.
Google Docs to Leverage the Power of Crowdsourcing
The ease of sharing and collaborating on a Google Doc makes it an excellent tool for collecting ideas and resources from others across the planet fairly quickly. All across the web, educators are contributing to collective works through Google Docs. This can be in the form of a collaborative list in a Google Document or spreadsheet, or a collaborative slideshow of ideas based on a topic.