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Millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development opportunities as part of Connected Educator Month (CEM) the last two years. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, Connected Educator Month offers highly distributed, diverse and engaging activities to educators at all levels, with the ultimate goal of getting more educators more connected, spurring collaboration and innovation in the space.

Based on its success in 2012 and 2013, the initiative is poised to reach even more educators in 2014 through expanded partnerships and enhanced programming. To help CEM continue to scale, the US Department of Education is distributing the event’s management out to the connected community, led by the American Institutes of Research (AIR), Digital Promise (DP), Grunwald Associates (GA), and Powerful Learning Practice (PLP). This core team will further push out leadership for elements of the celebration to other groups, and empower individual educators to take ownership in a variety of ways as well.

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Some of the other key ways we are hoping to build on CEM 2013’s success in 2014 (based on participant feedback, and general trends) include:

  • Making the event more fully global, to better incorporate learnings from around the world, supporting multiple countries in the development of full event slates as part of the celebration.

  • Making the event more fully mobile and blended, in reflection of the trends in educational practice and use.

  • A greater emphasis on collaboration and capacity-building in our planning, tools, and activities, as the logical next step beyond connection, and to address participants’ desire for a more action-oriented approach (led by the National Center for Literacy Education)

  • Launching a series of ongoing connected education initiatives during the month (our own and others) to keep momentum building throughout the year, as well as developing more year-round resources (like 2013’s district toolkit).

  • More events/activities that pull in other education stakeholders–parents, students, whole school communities, policymakers–to magnify the event’s creative impact.

  • Enhancements to features and programming to keep the event fully accessible as it continues to grow.

Thanks to infrastructure built in 2012-13, we’ve also got a lot more “runway” this year to work with participating organizations and individuals on event/activity development than ever before.

Funding The Event

CEM By The Numbers

Highlights of the 2013 event included:

  • 300+ major education organizations officially participating
  • 600+ national events and activities (many more local)
  • 1 million+ pages, other locations referencing, promoting or discussing the event
  • 14 million+ reached on Twitter alone

We need your help. Representatives from AIR (Darren Cambridge, Marshal Conley), GA (Peter Grunwald, Tom de Boor), PLP (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach), and others will be raising funds and reaching out for your support and collective ownership of the effort this year.

The original intent of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) was to fund CEM for one year, then turn it over to the community.  As the event has grown, it’s become increasingly clear CEM’s community-driven growth path includes directions that ED is constrained by policy from supporting, e.g. a strong emphasis on global participation.  The department will continue to be part of the core team developing the event, recruiting organizations to the cause, fostering collaborative events & activities, promoting it through all vehicles it has available, and participating at the highest levels (in 2013, the White House and President were involved). But with 14+ million reached in last year’s celebration, ED feels CEM is ready to be sustainably turned over to the community as originally planned.

As a result, we’re seeking funding and in-kind contributions from other sources, with ED’s blessing and support, providing a rare opportunity for close, visible association with–and an opportunity to impact–a highly successful and appreciated, increasingly international month-long online educational event that has grown rapidly year-over-year, with the potential to spread its reach and impact year-round.  More generally, this year’s event will provide a variety of new ways for organizations to get involved.

To get regular updates on all the latest CEM developments subscribe to our blogsign up for the CEM newsletter, or check in with Connected Educator Radio. For more information on CEM, see our reports on the 2012 and 2013 events, and/or this post by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan…

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