Connected Educator... ...Chapter 4: The Connected Community
We as a society know that the future is one of being connected. It is our job as educators to engage our students in mediums that will bring them success in the present and the future. The tools and resources that build a connected environment are a necessity in the 21st century. As educators, if we are to engage our students in a connected community, we must first establish our own role in the digital age. It starts with our own community... ...our school.
The Buy In:
How is it with so many interactive and productive resources at our fingertips some folks don't buy-in to the benefits of a connected environment? Speaking from the experience of a skeptic, there are 3 reasons why.
1.) Fear of Judgement
Being connected means sharing what is happening in our professional lives and in our classroom with the whole world. In order to do this we need to embrace a transparent mentality and open our doors to let the world in. For all educators this can be challenging. We are self-conscious about what we do and how our students and colleagues will react to it. We know that to be connected we must be open to feedback and and criticism. How do we overcome the challenge of transparency?
In order to overcome we must go back to our philosophy of education. Why do we do what we do? Why did we decide to pursue a role in educating young people? For me personally it comes down to the fact that I do it for the students. I believe in the youth of our society and the potential that they carry. I overcome my fear of judgement by always asking myself "is this best for students?" With a solid foundation to stand on there is no need to have fear of what others may think. The response is simple... ...it's what I believe is best for students.
Being connected means opening up your professional life to everyone. The idea of professional privacy is no longer applicable in a connected world. In order to be connected we must be willing to work as a team in a global community. The question is do the pros outweigh the cons in order to benefit learning? I argue that they do.
The opportunities and resources that come from opening our professional lives up to the global community have many positive consequences. I have always been a team teacher and believe that all educators have gifts to share with students. With the global community, that team just got infinitely bigger and all members benefit from the sharing of resources and ideas.
3.) Lack of Knowledge and Understanding
Being connected means being open to understanding how to use new tools and resources to better learning. One of the most common discussions I hear from fellow educators is that students know these tools better than we do. How do we educate a population that has grown up in an age of technology?
While students may be able to navigate certain tools with ease, it is the educator who knows how these tools can be beneficial to learning. I often see students using ipads and smartphones for the use of entertainment. Our role is to help them unlock the endless possibilities of these devices. Technology is so much more than just a video player. It is an interactive tool for learning. Our knowledge and understanding comes from our desire to use the mediums of today to educate our leaders of tomorrow.
Also with digital training modules, learning new tools is easier than ever. A short investment will produce expansive results in our students. We must also engage our students to see outside of the box and discover new and exciting ways to use technology to learn in the 21st century.
At the end of the day...
It is our job to educate. Building a connected community creates a better learning environment for our all. Through connected learning students are interactive, provided personalized instruction, and engaged more directly in the learning process. A connected school community is better because it provides more learning opportunities at a fraction of the cost. We used to have to travel to find a primary source experience for our students. Now through virtual tours, traveling abroad digitally is only a click away. We are giving experiences to our students that we never received because growing up we were not connected digitally. A connected community will open the doors to limitless learning potential. Our learning will never be the same again. A new medium is just over the horizon.