Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 1: What is a Connected Educator?

Connected Educator Month - Day 1 -  What is a connected educator?
This entry has been copied from the Connected Educator Starter Kit.

You know that the world is changing...
New and emerging Web technologies are connecting our children in ways never before possible. Through blogs, social networking sites, multimedia and other Web 2.0 tools, their world is becoming more and more networked and participatory. Your students spend time every day in virtual environments that are highly engaging and encourage creative thinking and problem solving. They frequently participate in games and social media where they routinely acquire and apply knowledge and collaborate with friends.

…but schools are not.
Schools have by and large been resistant to these shifts. Yet, this networked landscape of learning challenges you to re-envision what you do in your school and classroom, or risk growing irrelevance in your students’ lives. At the core of this challenge is how you and I, as educators, realize the potentials of these technologies in our own professional and personal learning practice as educators. If you want to become a 21st century connected educator — and prepare iGeneration students for an exciting but unpredictable future — you first have to become a 21st century learner. That’s right. The “connected learner” is YOU. To become a connected educator, you must first become a connected learner.

Think about it. Kids today seem to have been born with chips in their heads. They’ve grown up with remote control everything, smart phones, constant communication, and instant access to information in entertaining formats. Almost everywhere they go they are connected, engaged and plugged in. Through various social media, their worlds are becoming more and more networked, creating environments for learning and collaborating that look very little like the classrooms in which you and I grew up.

What is a connected learner?
Connected learners develop networks and co-construct knowledge from wherever they live. Connected learners collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn online back to their classrooms, schools, and districts.

Within these connections and networks, the complexity of learning and teaching becomes more apparent, and educators deepen their understanding. As networks and available knowledge expand and grow, and educators make additional connections, a more accomplished global teacher practice
evolves—a practice that continually focuses on maximizing student learning and staying current with knowledge about learning.

A new culture emerges as teachers shift away from a paradigm of isolation and closed doors. Connected learners share a deep commitment to understanding ideas related to teaching and learning. Conversations turn to topics of practice rather than to the staff room complaints and rumors that too often occupy faculty members’ time and energy. As educators grow into connected learners, they not only start to ask more critical questions of each other related to practice, but they also begin to actively listen and closely attend to varied perspectives that may help the community of learners
to move forward.

We could argue collaborative problem solving in real time is a new pedagogy of connected learning, just one of many that surface when we are thinking about learning in an open, connected culture. George Siemens describes the way we learn in networks as a form of knowledge exchange, a collecting and curating of stories and ideas, a wayfinding, a figuring it out through collective activities like crowdsourcing. This is a leveraging of the wisdom of the crowd and their resources through the various social sites to which we belong (Siemens, 2005a).

What is a personal learning network?
Educators have always had learning networks—colleagues from whom they learn and with whom they share. Often those networks were small, determined to a great extent by physical location. More recently, with the availability of technology to make connections and to extend learning, the physical boundaries of the past have been erased and the possibilities for connecting and learning have expanded. Those global connections that reach literally around the world are a personal learning network or PLN.

A personal learning network consists of the connections an educator makes to extend learning; the environments and spaces created as they find their colleagues or mentors. PLNs can be viewed as a reciprocal learning system, in which educators participate by sharing and then learn from others who share with them. PLNs become the personalized classrooms and curriculum where educators connect around ideas for which they are passionate. Everyone may connect to different people as the building of the network is a series of self directed, independent learning experiences. The growing and nurturing of a PLN is a complex process in which educators develop the literacy of finding trusted sources in a safe, effective and ethical way. In that end, PLNs are the creation of personal learning spaces and environments; they have the potential to profoundly impact both professional and personal learning. PLNs focus on individual needs, interests, conversations, and learning. Interestingly enough, learning in networks connects the learner to learning objects as often as it does people. An RSS stream or news feed (authored by many) can be part of a personal learning network.

Will Richardson, parent, educator, speaker, blogger and author of Personal Learning Networks - Using the power of connections to transform education, has some additional thoughts on personal learning networks in this video, which is one of 39 interviews at The Brainwaves.

A day in the life of a connected educator
All these concepts might sound like abstract ideas that seem appealing, but how does this play out in real life? Check out this compelling infographic complete with a play-by-play of a day in the life of a connected educator.Click here to view the entire thing!

Connected learning principles
The Digital Media & Learning Research Hub has come up with a set of connected learning principles, design principles, and core values for reimagining the experience of education in the information age. Read their connected learning principles and become familiar with these concepts.

Recommended reading
Browse this list of books often most read by connected educators. See what sparks your interest, and dive in to the mind of a connected educator.

This entry has been copied from the Connected Educator Starter Kit.

October is Connected Educator Month!

About the Connected Educator Project

Millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development opportunities as part of Connected Educator Month (CEM) the past two years. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, CEM offers highly distributed, diverse, and engaging activities to educators at all levels.

Based on its success in 2012 and 2013, the initiative is poised to reach even more educators in 2014,
through expanded partnerships and enhanced programming. In 2014 Connected Educator Month became collaboratively owned by the global connected learning community. Connected Educator Month 2014 is being organized and launched by the American Institutes for Research in partnership with Grunwald Associates LLC, Powerful Learning Practice LLC, the United States Department of Education and Digital Promise.

Visit the official Connected Educator Month site at http://connectededucators.org.

You can expect an intensive 31 days of connected learning focused on teaching and learning in four countries (USA, New Zealand, Victoria, Australia, and Norway) all holding simultaneously their own Connected Educator Month and using a common calendar. There will be hundreds of organizations leading a variety of events around seven core themes. Theme leader organizations in the USA will offer kickoff events and programming for each of the themes throughout October.

For easy access, I will post daily online learning activities here on this blog, copied from the Connected Educator's Toolkit.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet the New Google Drive

Google Drive was launched over two years ago. Due to its popularity and growth, Google recently updated Drive to make it faster and easier to use.

Right now, you can try out the new Google Drive if you desire. Fairly soon, everyone will be moved to the new platform without any choice of going back. Take a look at this video so that you will be ready!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chromebooks Are Taking Over the Educational Market

I remember when I first heard about Chromebooks in 2011. At that time, I didn't see how they could possibly work in schools. The reasons for my skepticism included their lack of a hard drive and the requirement to have wireless Internet to be able to work for schools.

Fast forward three years to 2014, and I cannot see how we would operate without them. Schools have beefed up their wireless infrastructures and almost all have moved to a cloud-based productivity solution so that saving to hard drives is no longer needed.  Additionally, the long battery life and quick start-up and shut-down features take away several obstacles, such as students tripping over power strips, and loss of valuable class time while computers are booting up and shutting down.

Something I really like is the ability for students to personalize their learning based on their interests and needs. There are so many apps and extensions that are available! Students can choose the ones they wish to use for each situation. Almost all of them are free, so the price is right.

As a person who supports teachers as they use technology in their classrooms, Chromebooks have energized me and my colleagues. Students and teachers now have the ability to use productivity tools with built-in collaboration capability. The instructional implications are huge. So not only are Chromebooks convenient, but they tend to nudge educators to teach in different ways. Students are the benefactors.

I recently discovered Intel's new website that has Chromebook tips and ideas for those who want to learn more about using Chromebooks in the classroom: Intel.com/ChromeEDU.  You'll find helpful articles written by Erin Klein, Vicki Davis, and Leslie Nielsen.  Also, they are running a contest. Those who follow @IntelEDU and tweet about their favorite Chromebook feature with #IntelChromebooks will be entered to win their own Intel-powered Chromebook!  Intel is known for its high quality teacher professional development, so this new community is worth checking out.