The Educator's PLN

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I have been trying to write this blog for several weeks now.  It is intended to be a follow up to my last post asking educators if we are speaking the same language as our students.  The more and more I follow other educators on twitter, the more I see we are writing the same posts, having the same discussions on #edchat and #educoach, and starting discussions on our own trying to find a solution to the same problems across the globe.  We are continuously talking about the elephant in the room and collaborating great ideas on how to move forward, but has anything really been done?  Has anyone came up with a good plan to get teachers to stop teaching twentieth century practices to a class of twenty-first century learners?  And has anyone put anything into practice that requires teachers to take ownership of their own professional development and join sites such as Twitter or Google+ to actively participate in a world of educators who want to promote global learning?Those of us that have adopted this new and exciting world of Google+, Twitter, and other Professional Development forums have realized the importance of integrating technology in the classroom and into our own professional lives as a commitment to life long learning.  But how many of us teach next door to a teacher who has never heard of a hash tag?  Or a hangout? Or even a bookmark site like Diigo or Instapaper?  How many connected teachers mention the application Delicious and other teachers ask if it is a free online cookbook?Of course, administration is going to have to be the initiative, but in many schools it is the administrators that are the problem.  I am lucky.  I teach in a school that encourages me to be creative. I have an administrator that wants technology in the classroom and encourages sites like Twitter for professional development.  Even with my administration on board, there are still teachers who only use their computer for email and grade book which is district mandated.  These teachers feel that since they were never taught how to use new technology, they are not accountable for teaching it to themselves or to students in the classroom.  The digital world is creating a whole new definition of illiteracy.  Are these teachers going to be considered illiterate?  Should the definition of illiteracy include not being able to understand # and @ symbols? Should there be high stakes for teachers who do not upgrade to a new teaching model?   This commercial below is my all time favorite.  It was an ad Wal-Mart put out this Halloween.  After watching it several times I realized that it is not just children who feel they are not accountable for the things they aren't taught, but also some of the educators that teach them.


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Comment by Amy Burchett on February 13, 2012 at 5:41pm

Hi there. This is a really interesting topic. I teach in an international school that is well on the path to being a 21st century school with students collaborating daily with google apps, skype and facebook on their own laptops in the classroom. Teachers employ technology on a daily basis utilizing many of the amazing web tools out there.. and yet... there is still something vital missing in the curriculum which is still often stagnant rather than dynamic. I am in Asia watching Grade 9 students straight out of Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines studying European Imperialism in Africa. A curriculum that is rich in content that purports to be rich in essential skills and creativity. Students are obsessed with grades rather than engaged in a love of learning. The technology tools appear to be used as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down!

Comment by Anne Beck on February 13, 2012 at 12:27am

Rumblepup: I feel your pain.  I teach in an archaic school as well.  But you would be surprised how fast things can change when your students go to other classes and talk about the cool things that are going on in your classroom.  I have implemented a BYOD plan in my class which works since I have a supportive administrator with an unsupportive IT director.  I have hacked an apple computer to use as a wireless router and I can provide internet to the kids in my class with apple devices.  I  have to unplug it when my IT director enters our building, which isnt very often since I try and take care of as many IT issues so he doesnt have to enter our building.  I say, "act first, apologize later."  There is plenty of research to back up the use of technology in your classroom!  Good luck and I am always willing to offer resources I have used that have worked in an outdated school.  I can now say my students enter a relavant world for at least one hour of the school day!!

Comment by Karen Norris on February 12, 2012 at 12:39pm

Some of us also face other road blocks. Our leaders who construct the policies that forbid me from using or checking twitter on a district owned device, who block my access to social networks (Nings). So some times I feel my hands are tied when I try to help the teacher who asked where did you get that?...I can only tell them. How much better would it be if I could show them the resource help them log on, demonstrate how to create posts or reply. So I'm not sure where the first step is in helping teachers. Is it the teachers, the administrators or the policy makers?

Comment by rumblepups on February 11, 2012 at 6:34pm

I consider myself a novice to being a “connected” and I am discovering a whole world filled with like-minded educators. The school  I teach at  seems to be out of touch with what is happening in the world. I sometimes feel like I’m trying to teach my students using archaic devices like using quill and ink when there is a vastness of technology not being utilized. unfortunately I don’t teach in a creative school and I feel bad for my students because they are being left behind. I talk to some of my colleagues about using the Internet to guide teaching in order to engage the students and educate them better; however,  they seem very resistant to change. Your blog post just reiterated what I see to be a problem. Educators need to be open to change and embrace technology otherwise we are a disservice to our students. 

Comment by Anne Beck on November 20, 2011 at 2:34am

Thank you for posting this.  It is something that the "connected" educator goes through daily.  Do you have a co-worker or administrator that has joined Twitter also?  That has helped getting others involved.  They feel like we have a secret club that they want to join.  May work for you!!! My admin was the first, he then got me hooked.  I hooked the Math teacher and now the English teacher is making his way.  It can happen!!!

Comment by Lisa Mims on November 20, 2011 at 1:40am

Every time I share something new, they ask, "Where did you learn that?" I explain that I am part of an enormous PLN through Twitter, Linkedin, etc... They stare at me blankly. I won't give up, maybe I can pull one or two of them.:)


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