We are in a technology-driven society that is driving things faster and further than ever before capable. Connecting is like stepping on the bullet train, while not connecting is like sitting at the train station awaiting a slower more comfortable train to ride.
This is not a course that is taken, but rather a mindset. It requires a love of learning, and a trust in other educators to be sharing, caring, and transparent. It is not Utopia; it is the culture of connected educators. It requires participation. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day to start on Twitter, the backbone of a Personal Learning Network. Starting is the key. Once an educator buys in, and starts, the connected mindset will soon take over.
The culture of connected educators was not designed. It developed and evolved with the advance of technology, and the evolution of social media. Digital literacy has been a requirement of the connected culture, but digital literacy has now also become a requirement for all educators.
“Resistance is futile” is the phrase that comes to mind in this connected revolution.
And everyone should be a part of it. Here’s a glimpse into what this culture looks like.
A connected 21st Century educator is an educator who is digitally literate. They are open to learn the technology needed to connect and collaborate with others. It requires at the very least the same openness to learning that we ask of our students. It is a lifelong learning mindset.
Connected educators master social media apps like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Each of these tools has unique bells and whistles, but they use them to connect, exchange information and resources. For face to face collaboration anytime and anywhere, they pick up tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Tango.
Connected educators find a value--or even a moral imperative--in sharing ideas and sources with others. They also trust enough to openly ask for help of other connected educators.
Connected educators are continually searching out other educators who can help in their goal of professional and personal learning. They seek out, collect and organize people as sources for information. Social media being what it is, social, real relationships often result. This is never more evident than at education conferences. Connected educators meet face to face for the first time, and it is as if they were childhood friends. Virtual connections are deepened with face-to-face encounters. Faces and names are connected and acquaintances become friends.
Connected educators find blog posts as a way to keep up with new ideas and information. They do more than just read. They interact. Through comments, they question, praise, elaborate, clarify, and refer readers to additional, similar posts. Connectedness takes the educator beyond just the consumption of information to interacting with it.
The amount of education authors, bloggers and speakers enable any connected educator access not only to the ideas of these thought leaders, but also to the thought leaders themselves. It is not uncommon for a connected educator to start out micro-blogging on Twitter, move to posting on their own blog, and then authoring a full-length book, becoming thought leaders themselves.
These connected educators also share, a great deal. They share experience of implementing new ideas first hand with other connected educators, including all the successes and shortcomings of the outcome. The Flipped Class, Bring Your Own Device, Problem/Project Based Learning, Professional Learning Network, 1:1 Laptops were all topics discussed online with connected educators months or even a year before they hit the halls, faculty rooms and meetings of most schools. Connected educators are leading movements in education, with the power of their connections.
Irrelevant educators may provide irrelevant education. To better educate our kids we need to better educate their educators. It is through connectedness that we can accomplish this most efficiently.