Last week I was lucky enough to participate in Vermont’s Project Ignite, where educators from across the state gather to celebrate innovation in education. More than anything it’s a day about connecting with others and leaves those who attend pretty inspired to keep on connecting.
The very next day I was contacted by a participant who was so energized she felt like she wanted to find ways to continue to dive into the world of innovation, specifically tech and education. She asked for some advice. Here’s what I suggested (A.K.A. The Connected Educator Starter Kit):
Too often I see folks that want to get into edtech skip what I believe to be a crucial first step.
You can dig into tech but without truly embracing the power of tech to connect, share, create and grow I believe you kind of miss the point. So here’s what I would suggest you do (and each one of these steps represents a longer period of time…not just a quick to do list):
Crack open that Twitter account and start following people. People you work with for sure, but don’t hesitate to go beyond the nearest 30 miles! See what they’re doing, what they’re discussing and sharing.
Here’s some to get you started…but don’t just follow them, look at who they connect with, who they celebrate…explore.
@gcouros – George Couros Inspirational fella who keeps you thinking (check out his #IMMOOC)
@pernilleripp – Pernille Ripp – Seventh grade teacher and awesome advocate for connection
@tonysinanis – Tony Sinanis He’s alright…I guess.
@joesanfelippofc – Joe Sanfelippo Better than Tony.
@cultofpedagogy – Jennifer Gonzalez Shares great stuff about everything learning
@petermdewitt – Peter DeWitt – Moving learning and innovation
@GustafsonBrad – Brad Gustafson – School voice and leadership, tech for connections
There are thousands I could share…seriously.
@bonniebird – Bonnie Birdsall – Tech integrationist and very nice person
@innovativeEd – The Tarrant Institute – Very cool people…lot’s of fun and a great resource
@lorilisai – Lori Lisai – Tech integrationist and also a really nice person! #vtedtech
@betavt – Ned Kirsch – Shares great learning
@KateGagner – Kate LaRiviere – Great ideas and excellent questions
@amycoyote – Amy Butler – Natural world in education
Again…there are thousands of great VT educators to follow. Best bet is to search the hashtags #vted and #vtedtech…you’ll find all sorts of greatness!
Once you have a group that you’re following, lurk around for a bit. Watch what they are sharing, how they are interacting.
When you are comfortable with the connected world start to engage and interact.
Connected educators are EXTREMELY approachable. You can tweet a question, a comment anything and most, if not all, will get back to you and before you know it you have this brand new voice contributing to your world (by the way authors are the same way…as a teacher you can connect really easily with many authors).
A good way to get your feet wet is to participate in a chat on Twitter (A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with these interests)
#hacklearning – Sundays
#satchat – a personal favorite Saturday mornings.
#vted – Vermont educators chat…usually Wednesday evenings
It helps to use something like Tweetdeck, it can help with chats. The first time you participate in a chat you’ll feel like you’re in the matrix, but once you get used to it you’ll be fine.
Create and Share
This is a big step.
Start sharing yourself…it can be reflections of your learning, one particular thing you’re interested in, anything. My only advice is don’t try to be something you aren’t…just share. If it’s edtech related there are a lot of examples of ways people share and explore edtech in their classrooms. Great stuff…connecting is how we grow!