To answer this question in the very month that the U.S. Department of Education has set aside to recognize as Connected Educator Month, we need to first examine what a connected educator is. We also need to understand to what it is that educators are connected.
The way information and content is housed and disseminated today has little resemblance to the housing and disseminating of a few short decades ago. Information then was stored in a manner that required some form of physical media. Text was stored in print on paper and film. Movies were stored on both film and videotape. Sound was stored on audiotape. All of this media needed to be stored somewhere until someone needed access to learn from it, or to share it with others. Colleges, schools and libraries served as hubs of information to give access to specific people for that purpose. That was the model for centuries. (read more…)
“Learning is amplified by the amount of people who are collaborating, participating, communicating and creating. The learning is NOT about the technology tools, but what students can DO with them to learn in new ways. The learning is about authentic tasks, that allow students to contribute in a individualized and personalized manner to make them realize that their work matters in the real world.” — Silvia Tolisano from the Langwitches blog.
I had a wonderful modern learning experience this past school year Skyping into a first-grade class in Jacksonville, Fla. This first-grade class is learning geography (as well as global perspectives!) through an activity that they call “Mystery Skyping.” The teachers connect with someone via Skype somewhere in the world. That person Skypes in and the students get to ask questions to discover where in the world that person is. I was so excited to participate and be one of the “Mystery Skypers!”
The teachers captured some images and blogged about the day I Skyped in. (read more…)
In the sweltering gym of my local high school, very deserving seniors collected trophies, plaques and scholarships during the senior awards assembly/graduation practice. I spent this morning with the other picture-snapping parents in the bleachers watching the festivities. A few deserving students needed help carrying their treasures as their names were read repeatedly, but in contrast the majority of students sat passively, observing and following the rules.
Today was a time to sit still, but looking at those bored students I wondered how many times they sat in classrooms passively consuming content during the past four years. To get students college- and career-ready, we need more than passive listening in our classrooms; we need students using the tech tools they will be using in the real world. I am a flag-waving fan of the bring-your-own-technology model — BYOT — for many reasons, but student engagement is No. 1.
Students that are engaged during a lesson are actively working with the content instead of passively consuming the information. (read more…)
In today’s world of learning, with its possibilities for global connection, one-way communication is no longer good enough. When interaction is one-way (e.g., note in the backpack, using online spaces with comments turned off), it develops or increases the sense that the school is out of touch. In connected schools, interaction and engagement rule the roost. When face-to-face interaction is not possible, as is often the case with working families and busy schedules, the best tool for that is social media.
Interactive online platforms, like the ones suggested below, can break down barriers, bring communities together, and improve critical relationships between school authorities and families as described in the six Cs for using social media. Not only is the use of social media good classroom practice, but in places that have quality reviews (an assessment and evaluation system for schools), engaging parents with social media will help schools shine. (read more…)