Are You a Connected Educator?

By International Society for Technology in Education

By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Board Member, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Powerful Learning Practice

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

The official kick-off is October 1, but there are many ways that you can get involved today. This year, the U.S. Department of Education is distributing the event's management out to the connected community. Event management groups (American Institutes of Research, Digital Promise, Grunwald Associates and Powerful Learning Practice) are working collectively with the community, and the U.S. Department of Education, to construct a robust program that will get more educators connected

, deepen the connections educators have and foster collaboration and innovation in the field, and we all have an opportunity to contribute.

The goals of CEM include:

  • Getting more educators proficient with social media to improve their practice
  • Deepening and sustaining learning among those already enjoying connection’s benefits
  • Helping schools credential/integrate connected learning into their formal professional development efforts
  • Stimulating and supporting innovation in the field

Despite two successful CEMs, many educators are still not connected, and many more are not yet taking full advantage of the opportunities that connected education affords. The initiative is poised to reach even more educators in 2014, through expanded partnerships and enhanced programming. Here are some highlights about what is planned for next month:

  • More fully global: To better incorporate lessons from around the world, multiple countries are developing a full slate of events as part of the celebration. So far Victoria (Australia), Norway and New Zealand have committed to holding their own Connected Educator Months.
  • More mobile and blended: In reflection of trends in educational practice and educator use, CEM will be embracing mobile more fully. For example, the calendar incorporates social media for community building during the event and has the option for schedule creation and viewing on smart phones through the mobile app.
  • Increased collaboration and capacity-building: Work around the seven themes of Connected Educator Month is being led by various organizations that will design and implement the programming around each theme. ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) has taken on the “Leadership for Change” theme. As part of programming around this theme, they plan to engage their PLNs, Affiliates, yearly award winners and members in the offerings they will provide.
  • Longer than a month: For the first time, a series of ongoing connected education initiatives launched during the month will continue throughout the year. The CEM organizers will also develop more year-round resources (like 2013’s district toolkit and a new district professional development toolkit launching Oct 1, 2014, by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology).

All education stakeholders will find events/activities that are relevant to them and will magnify the event’s creative impact. One such event will be the CEM Connected Cafe featuring ISTE’s Executive Board members (past and present) through a series of hosted Twitter Chats on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings during the month. More generally, this year's event will provide a variety of new ways to get involved including collaborative crowdfunding efforts.

Our short-term goal is to continue to expand efforts over 2013, which included:

  • More than 300 major education organizations, companies or communities officially participating, including, for the first time, entire states and districts
  • More than 600 national events and activities conducted officially (on the CEM calendar), with many more conducted independently
  • More than 1 million web pages and other online locations referencing, promoting or discussing the event (a 300% increase over CEM 2012)
  • More than 14 million educators and others reached around the world via Twitter alone (more than triple the reach of 2012)
  • Recognition as one of the top educational technology news stories of both 2012 and 2013

To get regular updates on all the latest CEM developments subscribe to the CEM blog, sign up for the CEM newsletter, or check in with Connected Educator Radio. For more information on Connected Educator Month in general, see reports on the 2012 and 2013 events, and read this post by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

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A 25-year education veteran, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. She is an ISTE Board Member and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Powerful Learning Practice.