Think about the word network. Seriously, stop for a moment and think about that word. For me, I think about computers connected to one another, or maybe a big brain/master computer that allows other computers to talk to each other. After a while of thinking, I tend to think about the verb: to network, as in, “I’m going to ISTE to network.” It wasn’t until I started reflecting on this today that I realized these two words are related.
Network and network are polysemes–words with the same spelling and distinct but related meanings. (It’s a version of a homonym.) It’s curious to me that in the year 2013, these once-distant words have such similar meanings. I’ve blogged before about begin a connected educator. Heck, I even teach a course on it. It just occurred to me how
important essential the internet is to my professional learning. I can’t imagine teaching without it.
The sense of community I feel as a teacher is profound. Twitter, Google+, and the internet in general are a significant part of that. At the Next Vista Awards last month, I met an eduawesome teacher. We talked about video, ed tech, music, beer. But, he’s not on Twitter or Google+. So… I don’t even remember his name. Contrasting that with a conversation I had a year ago at ISTE. I met Corrine Okada, we connected on Twitter and Instagram, and we continue to collaborate and communicate.
We take the ability to communicate with anyone around the world instantly (and for free) for granted. We can connect with teachers globally like never before. ISTE recently announced award recipients (and I’m one of them). Within a couple hours of an article being posted, educators from around the world were congratulating me. Again, we take communication like this for granted. If you stop and think about what’s actually happens, it’s amazing. Erin in Michigan and A.J. in Philly are congratulating me. It’s super stinking cool!
When I think of technology in the classroom, my first thought is always about what I can do in the classroom with tech. Thinking about students and tech is always second. I’m wondering how my students might respond to a prompt about their learning network. I think the answer would make me sad. I’ve never even asked my students how they use the internet to develop a personal learning space. I don’t think they’ve even thought it was an option. So, while I’m edustoked to have a supportive, robust learning network, I need to spend some time considering how I can support my students in developing their own learning space online.
Hey Bill, do you think you’ll be able to join us in Dubai tonight?
My response: sure! I live in Los Angeles and don’t own a time machine, so I decided to join the Dubai cohort via Google Hangout. Thus began my experience in the Leading Edge Certification program. (Bonus points for using the word “thus.”)
If you’re not familiar with Leading Edge Certification, here’s the official explanation:
Leading Edge Certification (LEC) is a national certification program in educational technology and curriculum innovation. Created by an Alliance of nonprofits, universities and educational agencies, LEC is the first national certification program of its kind, and is platform and vendor neutral. There are five areas of certification offered by LEC: Online and Blended Teacher, Administrator, Digital Educator, Teacher Librarian, and Leading Educator.
Most of my classmates live in Dubai, which is arguably the perfect backdrop for a course on blended teaching. Despite living 8000 miles away, I feel surprisingly connected–weekly discussions, reflections, and activities definitely help create that connectedness.
I love that I’m learning to teach these skills in a forum where I’m experiencing these same skills. In other words, I’m learning how to teach online, and I’m learning it online. EduAwesome! On a larger scale, this is the same reason I love teaching teachers. I not only teach them, I also model how to teach them. I often stop mid-lesson to punctuate the point: “Do you see what I’m doing here? You can do this with your students!” It’s a subtle, but significant difference from teaching elementary students.
In the next eight weeks of the Online and Blended Teacher certification, we will be focusing on online learning, online pedagogy, building community, online accessibility, assessment and evaluation, policies, and online closure. As a teacher, I tend to spend most of my time teaching. It’s so important for us as teachers to continue to learn. I thought I had this area of professional development covered–I regularly attend conferences, and educators on Twitter are constantly teaching me things. Being enrolled in a formal program, however, is a whole other beast. Being responsible for weekly posts and being assessed on my work is stressful. It’s a good reminder for how my students feel when I assign a project or give an assessment. It’s intimidating, and I had forgotten what that felt like. Since this is an online course about teaching online courses, I’m looking forward to seeing how this experience is facilitated. I’m not as concerned with the content (aka web 2.0 tools) as much as how it’s delivered and how I’m engaged. As I continue through Leading Edge Certification, I’ll be blogging about new tools, and my experience in the program.