The following post was written by NCTE member Michael Rifenburg who, along with Maria Clinton and others served as a curation team – attending and reflecting upon events during Connected Educators Month.
The end of October marked the end of Connected Educators Month, a professional development initiative started by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners in 2012 and which reached 14 million educators around the world via Twitter alone last year. As part of Connected Educator Month, NCTE and NCLE formed a Collaboration and Capacity Building Theme Curation Team composed of teachers across various levels.
As a part of this team, I had the privilege to tweet with my global colleagues in New Zealand about clustering and small group collaboration (#cenz14 & I blogged about this experience) and with my colleagues in Norway about the need to have connected teachers before we seek to have connected students (#cenor14)
Curation team member Marisa Crabtree covered an October 31st webinar on “Open Leadership for the Open and Connected Learning MOOC” (#oclmooc). (For those not familiar with this acronym, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.) This movement started in Alberta, Canada, and has an active weekly Twitter conversation and blog (http://oclmooc.wordpress.com/about-oclmooc/). The goal is to create a digital, collaborative space where teachers in Alberta and around the world can discuss questions related to teaching and respond to specific weekly prompts.
While just last year MOOCs were either the panacea or the death of higher education (depending on your source), heated debate has seemed to wane recently, with outlets such as the Chronicle of Higher Education spending less and less ink on this topic. However, now that a recent Nature article has reported that the most common user of a MOOC is an educated young man, MOOCs will struggle even more to be seen as the greater leveler of access to (higher) education.
Curation team member Maria Clinton covered an event on connecting classrooms with Skype. According to Clinton, “teachers use Skype to overcome budget and time constraints. Using Skype, they can contact people willing to work with their kids for free.” And much of the webinar showed how these collaborations enable classrooms to take virtual filed trips around the globe without ever leaving their desks. One creative game Clinton reported on is called Mysteryskype, in which two classrooms are connected and the game is to guess the location of the other class by asking questions.
October’s professional learning shines a light on what education in a globally connected and flattened society can look like. We live in a world today where students and educators are able to reach across countries and borders to connect in the name of educating. Here’s to moving this idea forward!