Monthly Archives: October 2013

On becoming a connected educator.

As it’s Connected Educator month, social media is chock full of opportunities to…well, connect. There are webinars, courses, connected cafes, special day events, contests, book clubs, and special interviews to name but a few of the events. Participating is lots of fun because you can network, acquire new tools, and learn.

But today, George Couros, in his Principal of Change blog tells another side of the connected educator story that is compelling and should give us all a bit of pause. He reminds us that in our enthusiasm or our singular focus (you pick) to celebrate the virtually connected educator, we often create a them versus us paradigm. And he reminds us that language matters. Do we really mean that being connected online is better than connecting in any other way? What is the connotation of the word “connected”? How can we personalize the idea of connection so that it makes sense for each of us?

Better Together

Being a connected educator to me means:

  • working together
  • leaving isolation behind
  • having collegial conversations
  • being transparent
  • being personally honest
  • being positive
  • having a progressive, forward-thinking stance
  • risk taking
  • reflecting
  • widening one’s peripheral vision
  • opening up as a learner
  • sharing

Can I be a connected educator without social media? Of course, I can. I have met with colleagues after school, in PLC meetings, collaborative inquiry sessions, and vertical meetings. I have attended traditional conferences and unconferences and I have visited other schools in other districts to learn first-hand how they go about the job of  teaching and learning.

Perspective

What social media offers me is choice, opportunity, and timeliness. Here is an initial list:

  1. Personal access to resources.
  2. Just in time delivery, which means I can collaborate with educators when I want to and need to. I can access information that is current. I can access a range of opinions and ideas.
  3. Ongoing support from members of my PLN.
  4. Ongoing learning.
  5. Opportunity to grow leadership skills.
  6. Opportunity to develop my reading, writing, and thinking skills via blog writing etc.
  7. Growth of empathy.
  8. To never feel alone again, regardless of the issue I am facing with my students’ learning.

Connecting with other educators from around the world does not necessarily  make me a better educator. I still have to work at planning and assessment. I still have to develop community in my classroom. I still have to reflect on the craft of teaching and hone my skills. Connecting with other educators from around the world simply makes this work authentic, meaningful, relevant, purposeful, intentional, and dare I say it — fun.

I am a connected educator online because it keeps me on the edge of my seat and on the tips of my toes every day.

But then, I also have a tornado in a bottle sitting on my desk.

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Re-thinking Assessment in OOE13

Co-Creator: I received credit from Open Online Experience. http://cred.ly/c/42307

Open Online Learning 2013 presents an opportunity to re-think how educators and learners go about assessment. What is evidence of learning? Who decides? We can, of course, co-create the success criteria, but as we move to more self-directed learning the success criteria will need to be individualized too. As we move toward student inquiry, what students present as evidence of their learning will vary; and as students push their learning to where they need to go, their products will uniquely represent that learning.

When we step outside the box, there are so many possibilities. When we begin to understand what it is we need to learn and what we care about learning, then, how we might go about that learning will not only surprise us, but will challenge our notions of what evidence of learning looks like.

About a year ago, I ran into the idea of badges as ways to symbolize learning. Of course, I thought it was hokey. Badges are good for Scouting  and Guiding,  not real learning.

Now don’t jump all over me…I realize my thinking here was flawed, but that is the way many people view badges. You get them for swimming levels and skating levels; you certainly don’t get them for academics.

By participating in experiences like OOE13, educators have the opportunity to experience learning in ways that are completely new to them. As I learn online via my PLN, moocs, blog reading, and/or participation in Twitter chats, Connected Educator Month events, or a whole host of other venues, I might want to acknowledge that learning in some way. And that’s what badges do. The process allows me to select the evidence that I believe is relevant, meaningful, and valid to me, to cite that evidence, and then to be acknowledged.

Twitter Vs Zombies: I received credit from Open Online Experience. http://cred.ly/c/42278

I am so proud of the badges I have earned to date. They inspire me to reach for more. Isn’t this the role of assessment?

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