Being connected is something I believe has helped me succeed. Being connected and “working out loud” is something that the Association for Talent Development advocates and I have taken to heart. Naturally, I am always looking for ideas to help improve what I am doing as well as ideas to share with other educators. The book, What Connected Educators Do Differently*, has helped to validate what I am doing and provided me with new ideas.
The authors of this book wanted to share their experiences as connected educators. Around their experiences, they created a framework with eight key connectors. I feel these key connectors are right on target but I think they apply to more than just educators. Many, many more disciplines and professions can benefit from these eight key connectors. The authors looked at the practices of others as a way to improve their own practices. They shared these lessons learned for the benefit of others.
- Invest in a personal and professional learning network.
- Learn what they want, when they want, and how they want.
- Embrace the three Cs: Communication, collaboration, and community.
- Give and take… and give some more.
- Strive to be tomorrow… today.
- Know that it is still about the 3 Rs: Relationships, relationships, relationships.
- Model the way.
- Know when to unplug.
Over the course of 172 pages and 10 chapters, the authors shared their experiences, the experiences of others, and lesson learned along the way. At the center of their discussions, though they admitted it could have been any tool, is Twitter. They speak highly of the power of Twitter as a learning tool and a means for connecting to others.
At the end of each chapter, they shared “Follow 5, Find 5, Take 5.” These fifteen items focused on the content of the chapter. This is where they asked readers to connect with five other connected educators, learn about five new resources, and take up five new challenges as a way to implement what has just been learned.
As the authors began their book, they wrote about the loneliness of the teaching field but also the importance to learn from others. At times, the only way educators to gain new knowledge and skills is through self-directed learning. They, therefore, talk about the importance of developing a personal learning network (PLN). They went further to label it a Personal and Professional Learning Network (P2LN).
“The global society in which we live has changed dramatically in the past few decades and we must be prepared to model for our students and for our colleagues a willingness to embrace this change” (Whitaker, Zoul, & Casas, 2015, Loc. 531).
The world is rapidly changing in terms of information available and the ability to connect and share this information with anyone the world. We have to stop living like the Internet does not exist and embrace it. Those who do will rapidly elevate their livelihood and professional career. We must continue to reach out and connect with those who are on the next level, as well as share what we know with those following behind us. Together, we can continue to improve our craft regardless of discipline.
The authors are not recommending supplanting traditional networking with a digital network, rather they are advocating for supplementing and enhancing your traditional network with a P2LN. A P2LN will put your traditional network on steroids, allowing you to access information and people that was previously a challenge. To get to the next level, it will take time and patience, but it is worth the energy.
After reading this book, I am confident that I am a connected educator. What I tap into excites me. The challenge I face is to convince those around me to make the leap into a digitally connected world. Perhaps this book will help. For my connected educator friends out there, you will pick up some new ideas; however, it will simply validate that you are on a good path. For my other educator friends, I encourage you to take a look.
While this book focuses on educators, you could simply replace the word “educator” with “owner,” “entrepreneur,” or other profession and it would apply just the same.
Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casas, J. (2015). What Connected Educators Do Differently*. New York: Routledge.
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