Network to Learn, Collaborate to Innovate

US Department of Education logo

Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.

For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative is launching Connected Educator Month in August 2012. Throughout August, there will be coordinated opportunities to participate in events and activities in dozens of online locations to develop skills and enhance one’s personal learning network.

Getting Started

An intensive, two-day online conference on transforming teaching and learning—featuring senior Department of Education officials and education thought leaders—will kick off the month. Plans are under way for opportunities such as:

  • Month-long forums on key topics, such as personalizing learning and the future of the teaching profession, which will be moderated by noted education leaders and consist of online discussions, interviews, webinars, chats, and more.
  • Guided tours and real-time community open houses, which will connect educators with communities, answering questions such as: Who can help me solve challenges I’m facing in my classroom and how do I best connect with them? How can I help change my profession for the better?
  • Contests for addressing community challenges, developing innovative ideas, and creating compelling video demonstrations.
  • Inauguration of a new series of open badges for connected educators as well as online communities.

All events and activities will be archived and synthesized into multimedia “proceedings” that will serve as a permanent resource to educators and community sponsors.

Invitation to Participate

We welcome any organization that supports educators learning online through communities of practice and social networks to develop, host, and run events and activities; to publish content; and to help promote the month. Participating is as simple as publishing the details of your event  on the Connected Educators Month calendar. We’ll be providing a “starter kit” to help you plan and provide you with a badge to put on your site. We will also be available to assist you in finding other participating organizations with which to collaborate or that might provide resources you need, and we’ll be actively promoting new partner events and activities every day. We welcome your ideas about additional ways you might participate and about the Month as a whole.

We also welcome educators at all levels and those who support them to participate-you’re who this event is ultimately for! The first step is sign up, which can be done in seconds on the Connected Educator Month home page (above and to the right). Once you’re signed up, you’ll get regular updates about:

  • Webinars and other real-­‐time events—many headlined by education, technology, and community leaders—that you can register to attend.
  • Forums on key education and community issues in which you can participate.
  • Guided tours, open houses, launches, exhibits, collaborative projects, polls, and other special activities of which you can partake or be a part.
  • Contests you can enter, badges you can earn, plus other resources ranging from starter kits to book clubs and classes to help you join the world of connected education or become more connected.

For more information, contact Darren Cambridge at dcambridge@air.org or +1-202-270-5224. Please check back on this page regularly for updates through the end of August and beyond.