October is Connected Educator month and I have had an amazing month reconnecting with colleagues, members of my PLN, and making new friends. My wonderful friend Erin Olson and I are even teaching a class on connected education. But what does that even actually mean?
Unofficially, being a “Connected Educator” has come to mean utilizing social media and web tools to connect with, learn from, and collaborate with others – and don’t get me wrong, that in itself has a tremendous amount of merit.
But being a connected educator isn’t about the tool, it’s about the mindset. It’s about embracing our ability to reach out to others, form relationships, and forge new ground and new ideas on a level that transcends tools and devices. I can connect with the teacher across the hall and the businessman across the country and the student across the globe.
I am a connected educator because when I want my students to present their work on community planning, I call up the local city council members.
I am a connected educator because when I need an expert on agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, I email my uncle who works for John Deere, who sends me email addresses of 2-3 other people who might be able to help me.
I am a connected educator because when I don’t have an answer I reach out to my Twitter PLN and use hashtags effectively to find somebody who has the knowledge I need.
I am a connected educator because I have a Voxer group that listens to my crazy rants, latest ideas, and pushes my thinking.
I am a connected educator because when I need somebody to help us learn about cultural differences in Europe, I used Skype to bring in my sister who was traveling abroad.
And when it comes right down to it, I am a connected educator because I want to model for both students and teachers what it means to have the world at your fingertips; to embrace the idea that I am not an expert but I know how to find those who are.