Monday, March 16, 2015

Are you a connected learner?

Hi Friends,
Are you a connected learner?  If you are reading this, you probably are and are already aware of the benefits. 
As a part of my Flat Connections Global Educator Course, I have been tasked with inquiring into why an educator should become a connected learner and how does connecting with the world change teaching and learning?

Innovation in Education:  Connected Learning

Connected learning affords teachers the opportunity to see, hear, and learn about a myriad of educational experiences that can be replicated, tweaked, played with, and amplified. When a teacher has a question today, numerous answers are just a tweet away. 
When I started teaching in 1996, I was the only Grade 1 teacher in a very rural school, with very few teachers and hardly anyone to collaborate with.  My classroom was lodged behind the cafeteria in an old, forgotten and outdated wing in the 'old' part of the building, nestled between two special needs classrooms.  No one ventured down this hall, unless it was necessary. Eating in the teacher's lounge was the only time of day when I would see other teachers.  As a curious new teacher, between bites of my packed lunch, I would strike up conversations about how the other more experience teachers might approach a behavior problem or how they might help a struggling reader. I was just out of college and by the looks and comments I got, most of my more senior colleagues felt I must have been "given" the answers there, so why in the world would I be asking?  This sparked the maternal drive to take me under their wing and give me the answer from their 40+ years of teaching, as I must not know anything. To my big surprise, dismay would follow if I had not implemented their advice exactly. I walked away after two years feeling that if I was curious about how things were done in the classroom, it was best to keep it to myself.  
With weekly educational Twitter Chats covering topics like "Bring your own device questions" and teacher blogs that usually end with a question like, "How do you manage your literacy block?"... the connected teachers and learners of today will never need to experience the aforementioned type of seclusion and isolation. And that is a great thing.  
Connected educators share not only their questions, they exchange ideas, resources, visuals, lesson plans, frustrations, joys, and the lessons they have learned along the way.  And we are all better teachers as a result. That's my opinion. Could it really be possible to spend time your very little free time tweeting, blogging, commenting and thinking about education while reflecting on your practice and not improve your the learning and teaching in your own classroom?  

Create:  Create your own PLN

One question that remains, is the question Tom Whitby asked in his article The Connected Conundrum - How do we connect the non-connected educators?  Things like Connected Educator Month are designed to do just that, but the educators that participate are usually the ones who are already connected. 
To illustrate this point, last year, I lead a workshop entitled, Developing Your Own PLN. I was surprised to find out that many teachers at the conference had yet to be exposed to this term, so didn't sign up to attend. The few who did take part were the already connected learners and tech leaders of schools. It was a great audience, with a lot to share, but I wasn't reaching the non-connected. 
So, should this reach any of you just starting out on your connected learning journey... here are some resources to get you started:  

Twitter:

Blogging:

Pinterest:

Relate:
Can you relate to teaching in isolation? What's your opinion-should teachers be connected?  Does it change teaching and learning?  I'd love to hear your story...

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