TeachThought's Attitude of Gratitude Blog Challenge question of the day got me Googling for resources. In order to answer, "What is the most powerful aspect of being a connected educator? What are you grateful for?" I had to find out exactly what a "connected educator" is.
My cursory research failed to uncover a single, unitary meaning, but a common theme did emerge. Connected learning has to do with leveraging social media, digital technology, and mobile devices to foster connections and collaborations inside and outside the classroom.
A post in The Learning Network, an online affiliate of the New York Times, says that connected learning has to do with "using technology to build communities and share knowledge." I'm down with that definition. And I am on the path to being connected.
The blog post Ten Tips for Becoming an Connected Educator claims that being a connected educator has to do with habits of the mind and heart. Sure, being connected is about technology. But being connected, according to blogger Elana Leoni of Edutopia, has just as much to do with embracing mistakes, expecting the unexpected, and "just jumping in" as it does with technology. This sounds like me, too. Or at least the "me" when I'm at my best.
In terms of what I use to build community and to share knowledge, Twitter, Pinterest, and Blogger are my three "go-to" social media platforms. In addition to "pushing" content to students via Twitter hash tags, I tweet out to musicians, poets, and scholars who we study.
We've virtually connected with folks in Colorado, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, demonstrating how what we study in our corner of the world is of interest to folks on the other side of the planet. Plus, students get a kick out of seeing when someone we are studying favorites or retweets a comment from our class. They've even started to tweet out to people we've studied, too.
I use Twitter to follow #reflective teachers, #sdawp, #nwp, and #cwp, and a host of other educators and education groups. I also follow journalists, authors, and entertainers. Pinterest is where I go for inspiration and ideas. There's a feed to my tweets and pins in the column on your right.
I've only been using social media for professional development for a few months. But the effect has been phenomenal. I don't feel so alone. I feel part of a larger community. I have access to so many great resources, ideas, and support from around the world. On my time. And in the short blasts characteristic of tweets, pins, and blogs (that aren't as wordy as mine!).