Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared August, 2012 Connected Educator Month a month-long exploration and celebration of online communities and networks dedicated to broadening and deepening educator participation in learning and sharing, and bringing online community and education leaders together to move towards a more fully connected and collaborative profession.
The National Education Technology Plan articulated the need for teachers and leaders to be highly connected to the content, tools, resources, peers, experts, supportive problem solvers and perhaps most importantly, to their students and their communities. And, as teachers and leaders are at the forefront of developing and implementing innovative approaches to meeting student needs, our ability to share approaches and explore new opportunities is essential to transforming education and improving student learning.
Connected Educator Month (CEM) will be celebrated with four weeks-plus of online events and activities, including:
A three day online kickoff event (Aug. 1-3) about connected education in the context of the larger education landscape, featuring keynote addresses by Deborah Meier, Chris Lehmann, Douglas Rushkoff, Larry Johnson, and Connie Yowell, a panel with the directors of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology, and more.
Six month-long discussion forums on key educational issues, selected by the participating organizations, and explored in an online community context:
- Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: 21st Century PD
- It’s Personal: Personalized Learning for Students and Educators
- Beyond Top Down: Distributed Leadership & Teacher-Led Change
- Knocking On The Door: Connected Education & New Technologies
- The First Six Weeks: Getting 2012-13 Off To The Right Start
- Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Incentivizing and Recognizing Teachers for Their Investments In Learning
Each forum includes a core group of thought leaders inside and outside education as well as top practitioners in the field; all are welcome to participate.
A variety of resources designed to help educators who are not yet engaged in online communities or networks get connected, including:
- A starter kit for educators who aspire to build their connections to other inspired classroom leaders, using a 31-day approach (one step per day to get more connected)
- A starter kit for districts to integrate Connected Educator Month and connected education in their back-to-school professional development
- A book club (featured book: The Connected Educator, with author Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach participating)
- Cross-community guided tours showing how online communities can address key educator needs
- Community open houses, allowing educators to explore specific online communities and ask questions of community leaders and members live as they explore.
A culminating two-day event designed to synthesize and distill learnings from the month, and generate takeaways and next steps for the field. All events and activities from the month will be archived, many will continue to be available (and continue to grow) after August, and a distilled multimedia proceedings will be generated for distribution.
More than 100 education organizations, communities, and companies have committed to help get the word out and to put events and activities on the CEM calendar. These include a variety of contests and challenges to generate valuable resources for the field, as well as online courses, classes, content collections, community and feature launches, collaborative projects, and more.
At the end of the day, Connected Educator Month is dedicated to the proposition that no teacher should be an island, but rather have a rich personal professional learning network to support them every single day. We hope you’ll join us in bringing the profession together this month.
Karen Cator is director of the Office of Educational Technology.