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We are in the middle of the Connected Educator Month.
I am looking at 4 big ideas around the connected educator through the lens of connected professional learning.
I think about the isolation of a teacher within their classroom walls and how connectedness to a global network of experts and peers could expose and add multiple perspectives to their world view and professional practice. I am amazed every time by the transformative nature of teaching and learning, when harnessing the power of a network to crowdsource authentic data, resources, connections and collaborators. Last, but not least, the idea of being able to model for our students what connected learning in an interconnected world means is a moral imperative for educators who are charged to prepare our kids for their future.
Interesting, that when thinking about being connected, my first thoughts turn to the opposite, of being isolated as a teacher. How to break out of the loneliness one can feel as a learner, reflective practitioner and someone looking for feedback when spending most of one’s work day inside a classroom with the doors closed. Traditionally, teaching has been and is one of the most isolating professions.
- Isolated in a physical classroom.
- Isolated as the only Spanish teacher in the entire school building.
- Isolated as the only member on a non existing grade level team.
- Isolated by being surrounded with children the entire day without speaking to another adult.
- Isolated when only hearing oneself speak when lecturing to a roomful of students, class period after class period, repeating the same lecture over and over again.
6 Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom by Rebecca Alber (Edutopia)
How can teachers open up the walls of their classroom and become connected to experience and gain perspectives from other educators around the world? Being connected to other educators and experts gives teachers, for the first time the exposure of multiple perspectives and constant opportunities to access different points of view.
- Opportunities from someone who does not live in one’s zip code
- Opportunities to connect with someone of a different country, culture and language
- Opportunities to learn from people regardless of stereotypes of age or sex
- Opportunities to learn from newbies and experts.
- Opportunities to see through the eyes of eye witnesses
Once connections are established, trust has been given and received, the network machine has started to function. It is the moment when sending a “shout-out” into your network is not just met with silence. A shout-out is met with a response, an answer, a re-tweet, a comment, feedback, a push back, added value, etc. This goes far beyond traditional face to face network connections though. Traditionally one expected the response from a few people.
Crowdsourcing though”is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community”. The response could easily be co-created by fifty, hundreds or even thousands of people contributing. Part of network literacy is the understanding of and harnessing this type of network intelligence. As David Weinberger in his book “Too Big to Know” stated “The smartest person in the room is the room”. It is the exponential potential that makes being a connected educator transformational.
- Crowdsourcing for authentic data collection
- Crowdsourcing for multiple points of view and perspectives
- Crowdsourcing to collect resources
- Crowdsourcing to gather different approaches to solve problems
- Crowdsourcing to increase efficiency
- Crowdsourcing to assemble individual pieces to make a whole with small contributions of each individual
- Crowdsourcing to participate in and collaborate on projects
One of the modern literacies is Network Literacy. In the Harvard Business Review, Eric Hellweg, outlines 4 key attributes to this network literacy. The capabilities to
- Obtain a basic understanding of network technology.
- Craft your network identity.
- Understand network intelligence.
- Understand network capabilities
I strongly believe that if we want globally connected students, we need to have globally connected teachers.
- Students need teachers who model connected learning and not just talk about it.
- Students need teachers who have experienced connected learning in order to translate and tweak that experience into their classrooms.
- Students need connected teachers, who can connect them with an authentic global audience, peers and experts.
- Students need teachers to model building an academic learning network.
- Students need teachers who are adept in applying global pedagogy (approaches, strategies and techniques to facilitate learning) to their curriculum.
When you think of connected educators, what are your big ideas that surface? Connect your thoughts, come out of your isolation, share your perspective, add to a crowdsourced collection of global pedagogy examples and how you model connected learning for your students.