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Is a Connected Educator the Same as a Teacher Who Is Connected?

tree of connectednessPlug a cord into a wall. Turn on the wi-fi on your phone. Open an app. Watch a webinar. Snap two devices together. Are you connected? To what?

Throughout October NCTE members have helped us to navigate through hundreds of online professional learning opportunities, many that we’ve hosted, as part of Connected Educator Month. On the whole we hear that online learning of this sort is incredibly helpful—opening doors to possibilities never imagined.

Check out this partial list of resources Marisa Crabtree pulled from a session called FUNdamentals of Learning 2014:

The session she attended was full of resources and discussion of how online tools have changed collaboration in the classroom, but it left her wondering something we’re all beginning to ponder as educators: “Are some of these simply fancy time sucks or really useful collaboration tools?”

After attending an international Twitter chat about being a connected educator, Michael Rifenburg also wondered about the relationship between digital learning and solid teaching.

“What I keep coming back to when reading these tweets and looking at Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s slideshow is what connected means to Tolisano, her audience, and even to the whole concept of Connected Educators Month. I actually feel the definition Tolisano was forwarding was a bit too narrow. When she said ‘connected’ she meant ‘digitally connected.’

But I don’t think our students need a digitally connected teacher. What our students need is a teacher connected to the current (global/local) conversations animating the discipline. If this connection happens digitally—great! If this connection happens with the teacher attending conferences, reading the pertinent journals, and keeping up with important developments in the field without ever getting onto Twitter or a similar digital platform—that is great, too.”

Special thanks to NCTE members Marisa Crabtree and Michael Rifenburg for collecting the ideas above for Connected Educator Month and our Collaboration and Capacity Building Theme.