As it is Connected Educator Month, it is interesting to take note of what life can be like in the day of a connected educator. The following is a sequence of events from one day last week:
6:30 a.m.: Perused my e-mails — content sent whilst the rest of the world was awake. Responded to the most pressing e-mails. Checked Twitter for any interesting updates, especially those tweets directed to me. Checked for comments and responded to enable further conversations and connections. Looked at the day’s statistics. It is always motivating to know that people may have read posts or that keyword searches have found my blog posts.
7:30 a.m.: Last-minute preparations for the day’s classes.
8:15 a.m.: Depart for school, turn on laptop proxy settings and check for any Skype group updates.
9 a.m.: Coach a potential moderator online in the use of Blackboard Collaborate. Our education department provides teachers with a statewide license for PD, meeting and classroom use.
11 a.m.: Activated the school polycom videoconferencing equipment to connect with a teaching colleague in Melbourne who was with the executive committee of Parents Victoria. We demonstrated the potential it has for effective and easy connections via high-quality videoconferencing. Discussed various uses of this equipment and other tools may have for connecting , such as bringing statewide parents in to virtual meetings from their homes, virtual parent/teacher/school information evenings and virtual school assemblies.
1 p.m.: Noted the e-mailed link to the virtual room for my year 8 ICT class linkup with Gio and Port Phillip EcoCentre. Gio, in Melbourne, is to share his work on the Nest Box Forum with my students. My class is to be a champion class for Gio to learn how to make effective use of blackboard collaborate as a teaching/learning tool. My students will have the chance to interact with Gio, learning “netiquette,” appropriate online behavior and finding answers to their curiosity.
2 p.m. Year 8 students individually log on and enter the virtual room. Surprisingly, Gio was not there yet. An e-mail alerted us to the problems they were having with their technology back in Melbourne. While we waited, students drew pictures on the whiteboard to share something of where we live. Wondering how long this would keep them engaged, I tried to think of a plan B. However, a Skype pop-up window, alerted me to a request from Lin-lin in Taiwan, looking for a class to do a mystery Skype with her students now! Thinking this could be a lifesaver, I immediately said we would — at least until Gio was able to connect with us. Just as I set up Skype to display on a bigger monitor, Gio appeared. Not wanting to offend either party, I got two girls to take my laptop into the backroom to do mystery Skype with the Taiwanese school, allowing me to work with the majority of students.
I fleetingly and periodically checked on the two, but they seemed to be able to make themselves understood, looked like they were having fun as they communicated and connected, using the chat when their were misunderstanding the spoken language. At one stage the Taiwanese class could be heard singing a song to the girls. Meanwhile my main class was highly engaged listening to and learning about bats, possums and birds that use nesting boxes. Gio shared some delightful images with them on the whiteboard.
3:45 p.m.: Staff meeting. Got a Viber alert on my iPad — a new, healthy granddaughter, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa!
8 p.m.: Checked e-mails, Skype updates, Viber messages, Twitter feed and wrote a blog post — “An Unpredictable Class” — to share the impact of connectedness!
What does your typical “connected” day involve? How important is it for educators to be connected? What impact has being connected had on your teaching and learning?
Anne Mirtschin is an award-winning teacher from Australia whose most recent major award was the 2012 ICTEV and ACCE Australian Computer Educator of the Year 2012. She is passionate about rural and global education, immersing technology in the classroom, eLearning and loves collaborating, teaching and learning online. She teaches ICT from prep through to year 12 at Hawkesdale P12 College, a small rural prep to year 12 school in country Western Victoria, Australia. Anne is host of Tech Talk Tuesdays, a weekly online webinar, a web conference coach for Digital Learning, Australasian coordinator for the Global Education Conference and an active member of the Flat Classroom Projects. Find her on Twitter @murcha and at e-Journeys.