October 2, 2013

What is a connected educator?

A variety of posts around the blogosphere about Connected Educators Month got me thinking about how we evaluate connectedness. Is there a widely-accepted definition?

I went in search of this answer by typing the question into a Google search (does that act alone make me connected?). Most of what comes back on that search is only related to the phrase, "connected educator." I did find this article at EdWeek, providing some specific details on the subject.

Photo credit: Principalj.net
EdWeek says the connected educator has a Personal Learning Network, or PLN, embraces blogging and the Bring Your Own Device movement. Although I tend to agree on most points, I'm not sure we've reached a definition yet.

The recent Bammy Awards, honoring connected educators, in many cases, focused on those who have a massive following on Twitter and Facebook, at least in terms of people who aren't celebrities. Admittedly, I used to be enamored with a large Twitter following, envying others in the profession who have 10,000, 50,000 followers or more in some cases.

Upon closer look, though, I realized that some of these people also follow tens of thousands of people, and if you understand Twitter, you likely know that many people have systems in place for automatically following back someone who follows them. You don't have to be a math guru to see how this system might multiply your followers rapidly. So, does having a ton of followers make you connected?

I have written widely on technology use in the classroom. I have a modest 4,500 or so followers on Twitter. I tweet, post to Facebook and LinkedIn and blog regularly about education. I even teach an online course called, Plugged-In. So, am I a connected educator?

I'm still not sure, and I really do want an acceptable definition. So, are you connected? What makes you think so?

Don't miss ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, now available in the ASCD store, Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com and Mark's new book, The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom