Not a “connected” educator? Here’s where you can start.

educators-connectedConnected Educators Month (CEM), an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to help educators make better use of digital and social media tools for collaboration, has released a new video highlighting popular educators on Facebook, Twitter, and other digital spheres.

“Go back thousands of years and educators would collaborate,” said Tom Whitby, founder of #edchat and a high school English teacher, “but technology has taken us to a level where we can collaborate beyond our wildest imagination.”

The video aims to spread the word about Connected Educators Month, first launched in 2012. The goal, says ED, is to call attention to the different ways online communities and learning networks can connect educators and aid them in collaborating with and learning from peers.

Last year, more than 170 education organizations, companies, and communities were involved in Connected Educators Month. It offered more than 450 events and activities, and more than 4 million people followed the 2012 hashtag, #ce2012, by the end of the month.

This year, Connected Educators Month is focusing on helping school districts promote and integrate online social learning in their formal professional development.

(Next page: The Connected Educators video)

Themes for the 2013 Connected Educators Month include: Making it count: Integrating social learning into formal professional development; Connected leadership; and From connection to collaboration to name a few.

“It’s not just that technology has enabled these conversations,” said Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0, “but that it also calls into question the core values of how teachers learn, how learners learn, and how much do they learn from each other.”

Watch the video:

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Sandy Hayes, president of the National Council of Teachers of English and a teacher at Becker Middle School agreed, saying that “communication happens not just across disciplines but philosophies and even practical projects.”

Susan Gauthier, a librarian in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, says it’s not always easy being a librarian who wants to collaborate.

“All these other departments usually have a team, but as a lone librarian in the school, I rely on my online communities to give me that support,” she explained.

“The advice I’d give to any new teacher or any teacher that’s feeling a little stagnant is to just surround yourself with other passionate educator from a multitude of different background because that’s when you really learn and grow,” said Kim Sivick, director of professional development at the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools.

“We’re always telling our students ‘You have to be lifelong learners,’” said Whitby. “But we have to be lifelong learners, too. Too often we profess it but don’t follow it.”

Administrators, curriculum directors, IT leaders, teachers, and anyone who is interested can follow Connected Educator Month on Twitter @edcocp, or can follow discussions using the hashtag #ce13.

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Meris Stansbury

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