New nationwide online community opens for educators


There will be coordinated opportunities for educators to participate in live events and activities in dozens of online locations.

“Improvement requires connection” with peers, colleagues, and new ideas, said Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Education Department (ED), at a recent ed-tech conference—and that’s the idea behind the first-ever Connected Educator Month, which kicks off Aug. 1.

To celebrate the occasion, which encourages educators to join online “communities of practice” to improve their craft, ED and its partners in the project are hosting a series of online forums and events.

“As we ramp up for the 2012-13 school year, teachers and leaders … have the opportunity to work toward a more connected and collaborative profession,” Cator said during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in late June.

Building on these principles, ED has created the Connected Online Communities of Practice projects to “expose the broader audience of educators and administrators to the benefits of peer professional development.”

Connected Educator Month will begin with a two-day online conference featuring senior ED officials and education thought leaders. It will continue with…

  • Month-long forums on topics such as personalizing learning and the future of the teaching profession, which will be moderated by noted education leaders and consist of online discussions, interviews, webinars, chats, and more.
  • Guided tours and real-time open houses, which will connect educators with online communities of practice, answering questions such as: “Who can help me solve challenges I’m facing in my classroom, and how do I best connect with them?” and “How can I help change my profession for the better?”
  • Contests for addressing community challenges, developing innovative ideas, and creating compelling video demonstrations.
  • Inauguration of a new series of open badges for connected educators as well as online communities.

All events and activities will be archived and synthesized into multimedia “proceedings” that will serve as a permanent resource to educators and community sponsors.

The full official calendar of events can be found here. To make sure your computer is configured correctly to participate, visit the support and configuration page. The Twitter hashtag for Connected Educator Month is #ce12.

For a glimpse at what the conference will entail, here’s the lineup for the Aug. 1 “Opening Day” events:

  • The Connected Educator Book Club begins. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, co-founder of the Powerful Learning Practice Network, is the author of The Connected Educator. As part of the Connected Educator Month festivities, the Connected Educators site is offering the opportunity for those interested to join with other change-agent educators and read the book together. More information can be found at http://connectededucators.org.
  • All day (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET):
    Games in Education Symposium. See http://gamesineducation.org.
  • 8:00 a.m. PT / 11:00 a.m. ET:
    Kickoff Panel and Discussion – “Connected Education and Peer Professional Development.” Judi Fusco, Scott McLeod, Howard Rheingold, Tom Whitby, and Steve Hargadon moderating. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/PeerPDPanel_landingpage.
  • 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET:
    Kickoff Panel and Discussion – “Professional Learning and the Learnig Profession.” Cathy Gassenheimer, Jackie Gerstein, Caren Levine, Stephanie Sandifer, Kathy Schrock, Will Richardson, and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach moderating. This is the kick-off event for Professional Learning and the Learning Profession, one of the main forums for CEM. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/ProfLearningPanel_landingpage.
  • 12:00 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. ET:
    Kickoff Panel and Discussion – “Knocking On The Door: Connected Education and New Technologies—Key Themes for Learning.” Drew Davidson, Chris Dede, Cable Green, John Katzman, and Steve Hargadon moderating. This is the kick-off event for Knocking On The Door, one of the main forums for CEM. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/KnockingAtTheDoorPanel_landingpage.
  • 1:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. ET:
    Kickoff Panel and Discussion – “Connected Learning and the State of Education Today: Directors of the Office of Educational Technology.”
    John Bailey, Karen Cator, Tim Magner, Susan Patrick, and Linda Roberts.
    A special online panel about Connected Learning and The State of Education Today, featuring all of the past and present directors of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.
    In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/OETDirectorsPanel_landingpage.
  • 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET:
    Kickoff Keynote – Deborah Meier, Teacher, Principal, Writer, Advocate, on “How To Survive in Your Native Land.” Deborah Meier is a senior scholar at NYU’s Steinhardt School and a board member for the Coalition of Essential Schools and FairTest. She spent 45 years working in K-12 public schools in New York City and Boston, including leadership positions in several highly successful, small, democratically run urban schools. Her books include The Power of Their Ideas and In Schools We Trust. In 1987, she was the first educator to receive a McArthur “Genius” Award. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/DeborahMeier_landingpage.
  • 4:00 p.m. PT / 7:00 p.m. ET:
    Kickoff Keynote – Chris Lehmann, Principal, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, Pa. Chris Lehmann is the principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia; he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English Literature. Lehmann has received several awards and recognition throughout his career, including the 2012 Lindback Award for Excellence in Principal Leadership in the School District of Philadelphia. He was also honored by the White House for his education reform initiatives and was named a “Champion of Change” in Sept. 2011. He is a writer, blogger, and author (What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media) as well as a regular speaker at major education conferences. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://bit.ly/ChrisLehmann_landingpage.
  • 5:00 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET:
    Taking IT Global and Flat Classroom Mega Meet and Greet. Join Kate Gatto, education program manager at Taking IT Global, and Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, co-founders of Flat Classroom, for a mega-meetup to get connected globally. This will not be a lecture! This will be a chance to connect with other educators with a view to building relationships and creating opportunities for connected and collaborative learning throughout the year. Make meaningful connections with other educators, but more importantly, meet other educators find colleagues who want to connect. In Blackboard Collaborate, live link http://tinyurl.com/flatbusiness1112.
  • 6:00 p.m. PT / 9:00 p.m. ET:
    Teachers Teaching Teachers. 
    Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTT) is a weekly web radio program of the New York City Writing Project hosted by educator and writing project tech liaison Paul Allison. This special edition of TTT will focus on online communities of practice and involve a variety of educator guests and writing project colleagues. Event link: http://teachersteachingteachers.org/.

The Connected Educators initiative is being coordinated for ED by the American Institutes for Research with key support from its partners, including the Consortium for School Networking, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, Forum One Communications, Grunwald Associates LCC, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, in collaboration with a wide range of educational organizations and grassroots networks. A complete list of participating organizations can be found at http://connectededucators.org/cem/participating-organizations/.

Meris Stansbury

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