It’s not just about connecting the educators…

Cross-posted at Education Is My Life

It took me a while to wrap my head around the idea of “Connected Educator” month. I work with school administrators and teachers all over the world. Quite simply, educators either embrace the potential of connectivity or they don’t. It’s not really about the technology any more, because there are very few folks out there that don’t have a smart phone, and therefore the ability to connect with a network at any given time. Building a personal learning network comes from a desire to be connected, or a frustration in not being connected.

So educators have this amazing potential to connect with each other and continue to learn and grow. How about the students? If connected educators really practice what they preach, they are providing connection opportunities for their students as well.

I can’t help but quote from David Price’s new book Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future

Going ‘open’ is a social revolution that represents a fundamental challenge to the established order of things – one that cannot be ignored. It disrupts and changes, so things can never be the same again. But, as with all revolutions, there are winners and losers. The winners are ourselves, happily connecting and collaborating through global networks of friends, colleagues and online acquaintances. We are powerfully motivated by the easy access to ideas and information, and the informality, immediacy and autonomy that it brings. The losers are our formal institutions: businesses, schools, colleges and public services that are failing to grasp the enormity of the change taking place. Price, David (2013-10-02). OPEN (Kindle Locations 58-63). Crux Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Price goes on to suggest that schools and colleges don’t have to be losers, as long as they embrace the open nature of knowledge and intrinsic human motivation to learn, while shifting away from our current industrial model of schooling to embrace learning as it was originally conceived: an act for public good, collaboratively pursued, for the betterment of all citizens. At its heart is this core principle:

No one can be ‘made’ to learn anything: for knowledge and understanding to stick, we have to have learner intent. The quality of one’s learning is directly related to our desire to learn. This is why progress made in learning socially, voluntarily, is invariably far greater than in the formal, compulsory context. Price, David (2013-10-02). OPEN (Kindle Locations 1112-1114). Crux Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So, yes, connected educators are modeling learning the way it should be done – by personally embracing their own need to grow personally and professionally. How is that translating into classroom practice? When it does, we’ll really see things change for our students.

Reflections on a birthday in the Facebook age

I do remember birthdays from 10 years ago … generally quiet, with a small family celebration (a meal out, a cake with candles), a few cards (homemade by my daugher, niece and nephew), a few small gifts.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I received  bevy of messages via phone, email, text, and on Facebook – some from friends I haven’t seen since we graduated high school umpteen million years ago. I mentioned the messages I was receiving and a friend commented, “yeah, but it’s just on Facebook, they get a reminder that it’s your birthday.”

So what? I have to say, it’s delightful to get those messages from cousins far away, and old friends across the ocean. And I also delight in sending my own greetings when I notice the tiny gift box icon appear on my own Facebook page.

And how did I celebrate the day? I took off work (first time I’ve ever done that), spent it eating out and strolling the city with my husband, received a few cards and a few small gifts … punctuated by lots of messages from Facebook friends wishing me well. You know, there is nothing wrong with that.

And, from the random thought department, I close with a sentiment written many decades ago – that got my husband’s college roommate a job at Hallmark:

Violets are blue
Roses are red
Another year older
At least you’re not dead

Exponential growth for Facebook …

From Inside Facebook

Facebook has hit the 175,000,000 active user mark, just 5 weeks after it hit 150 million users in January. At this rate, Facebook has been growing by well over 600,000 users per day over the last several weeks, continuing the company’s torrid growth pace.

If Facebook were a country, it would now be the 6th most populous in the world.

So … do we think social networks have a place in schools?

Digital Moms

Interesting report from Razorfish on moms and their use of digital technology. The report is geared toward marketers, urging them to heed the 32 million moms that are both consumers and producers of online content. Important considerations for marketers:

  • Moms look to social networks for advice and information
  • Connect to moms through a combination of activities and personal channels, leveraging “mom 2.0” abilities of content creation and distribution
  • Do more than reach moms – need to engage them

It strikes me that this is good advice for educators as well. Won’t “digital moms” become increasingly impatient with their children’s non-digital experiences at school? This should be a concern for anyone involved in education.

“…engaging the socially networked mom goes beyond strengthening brand metrics with her as an individual consumer. It is about leveraging the benefits of her personal word of mouth and pass-along through everyday social networking activities. These result in her trusted brand messages being disseminated and well received by the broader population—the ultimate goal of social influence marketing.”

Why parents should have a facebook account (and check it regularly):

I think I have a pretty good relationship with my 13-year-old daughter, despite being separated by an ocean at the moment. Between phone calls, e-mails, skype, and frequent flyer miles, we’re still in close contact – and facebook is now yet another way we connect.

So imagine my delight when I knew all about her impending break-up with the boyfriend and saw this comment posted by one of her “best” friends:

And that brings up another question … how can you have 88 friends in less than a month?!