Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. ~ Mark Jenkins
As Spring springs here in Australia and Fall falls in the USA (where I am headed in two weeks), I have been reading a lot about how October is Connected Educator month. You can read more from Craig Kemp (Twitter as PD), Tom Whitby (on the connected mindset) and Pernille Ripp (the downside to being a connected educator).
It has me wondering: what about being a connected learner? Because for me, being a ‘connected educator’ means connecting to be challenged, to be supported and to learn.
Twitter is a platform which allows plenty of connection and learning. On Twitter I …
- Learn from others around the world – educators, thought leaders, researchers, students, people in other industries, friends and like-minded individuals. I get to read others’ ideas and share my own, and this means I am in a constant place of learning.
- Contribute to a localised community hub of learning and thinking, sharing ideas on-the-spot such as at conferences during presentations; I simultaneously contribute to and consume the stream of learning-community responses.
- Engage with people with whom I disagree, thereby engaging in debate and widening my perspectives. Corinne Campbell has written about why we need to be careful about the ‘echo chamber’ and only connecting with those who mirror ourselves.
- Connect to those in similar situations to myself. This is why I follow #phdchat and #acwri, because as a working parent who is also a PhD candidate (read more about that here), I am not part of a student or researcher community, apart from during my supervisory meetings. Engaging with these hashtags allows me to learn from others while feeling that I am not alone in my PhD experiences. It means that when I am deep in my researching or writing burrow, I can send a shout out (a Twitter SOS, if you like) about my research experience (something that most people in my day to day life don’t connect with) and feel connected to others in the same boat. It allows me, in my moments of isolation and academic struggle, to feel heard by someone out there! I agree with George Couros in his post about why we need to be able to find these kindred spirits outside of our own immediate contexts.
Now, with this recently-begun blogging experiment (Will it continue after my professional learning New York trip? That is yet to be decided!) I have been connecting by sharing my musings (in more than 140 characters), my photographs and my journal scribbles. The very act of writing helps my thinking and the growth of my professional ideas. The subsequent connections with others is about mutual interest and growth. Blogging has helped me refine my own thinking while widening my global learning community (or professional learning network).
Similarly to the ACEL Conference at which I presented this month (you can read my reflections here), my upcoming visit to New York will have me really connecting, face to face, with inspiring thinkers, school leaders, educators and researchers, with whom I have found connections through various avenues, from introductions to cold-emailing. Here Clara Galan reminds us of the importance of connecting in real life as well as in the virtual world.
So for me October is definitely Connected Educator month, but more than that, it is about connected learning. Educators and others around the world connect online and in person, learning together to grow themselves and come up with better outcomes in their arenas of work and influence. Fellow nerds of the world, unite, in any and every way you can!