The Connected 10
Educator Challenge
#connected10

The start of a journey of discovery and learning

Challenge Overview

Becoming a connected educator is a fundamental requirement for 21st-century educators. This 10 Day or 10 Week Challenge is just the start of the journey to discovering more about connected learning and its potential. Being a connected educator is not just about the tools, how many connections or followers you have, or how many hits you get on a blog; it is all about the mindset of who you are as a modern day educator. As Aaron Davis points out in his blog post, “Being connected is a mindset, a way of being and a way of doing,..”

Each section can be done independently and over more than one day, but to achieve the full initial introduction to becoming a ‘Connected’ Educator it is encouraged that you explore all 10 areas. The first few will take a bit longer than the rest as you learn to navigate this new connected world. Each part is broken up into the ‘What’ it is about, ‘How’ to make a start and a few ‘Challenges’ to begin the journey.

Use the hashtag #connected10 whenever sharing so that more people can benefit from building these new connections and grwo together.

This is your personalised 10 steps of learning, trying new things, and growing. Have an open mind, enjoy and have fun discovering!

1 - What is a Connected Educator

The question is, “What is a Connected Educator’ and you will firstly need to establish for yourself your own understanding of what a connected educator really is and how you can define it for yourself. As you start exploring this new connected world don't be surprised if you're reading some areas that you are already doing without realising it. The world has changed with the rapid development of the Internet and Social Media, and it is now connecting us to a global network. Learning is becoming networked and participatory by nature, and as teachers, we need to make sure we can realise the potential and possibilities with this new age. To make sure we do not become irrelevant and outdated, we need to become connected learners. As connected learners teachers develop their capacity to collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations, keep abreast of new technologies and ideas, and bring what they learn to their classrooms and communities. A new mindset emerges when we move from being isolated in our own schools, to a globally supported network. Connected learning and being part of an evolving Personal Learning Network (PLN) becomes key for a 21st-century educator.

This opening part it is best to look at a few readings & clips about what being a connected educator is and why it is so important. Take some time reading and exploring some of these links below.

Watch - Why be a connected educator? by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Watch  - Personal Learning Networks by Will Richardson

DAY/WEEK 1 - Challenge Checklist

  • Read/Watch/Explore  the links
  • Email address. Start by making sure that you've got an email address set up that you can use to connect your various online platforms and use when creating different profiles.

Next we look at Twitter...

2 - Twitter

Twitter is an online social network and microblogging service, accessed from a computer or mobile phone, that connects you to a worldwide network of people. It is a very important tool to connect educators right across the world, and many that use it effectively believe they learn more from their personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter than they’ve achieved from any other forms of professional development or personal learning. Twitter's being used successfully by many individuals to connect the classrooms that they are teaching, practice their own professional learning and their students to the world outside; and it allows participants to share and consume short segment of information in real time.

Over the next few days the aim is to provide you with all the information you need to learn how to use Twitter effectively as an educator. Firstly have a look below at these short videos to assist you.

Getting started

1. Go to www.twitter.com and fill in your name, email address, and password and Click “Sign up for Twitter.”

2. When prompted choose your username – personalise it about yourself and maybe what you do in education in the future.

3. Click “Create my account”

4. Next, start following people that are sharing and inspiring in education. Have a look at this list for some ideas and decide which ones may interest you: My List of Educators that Inspire

Their tweets will now appear in your feed and you can select to FOLLOW anyone else that you might be interested in or that you may know by simply searching for them.

5. Once you are finished connecting, you need to ‘crack’ the egg. Upload a professional photograph, or cartoon of yourself so that the world can see who you are.

6. Edit your profile and add the important details about who you are and what you are passionate about by clicking on ‘Edit Profile‘. Have a look at a few people you follow and what they have written.

Once you have set up your Twitter Account and start exploring the first few areas from the Twitter with this brilliant guide by Sue Waters -

THE TWITTERAHOLIC’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TWEETS, HASHTAGS, AND ALL THINGS TWITTER. It is the best resource available to start exploring Twitter and you can continue exploring it over these days.

DAY/WEEK 2 - Challenge Checklist

  • Create a Twitter Account
  • Crack the egg
  • Write your Bio
  • Follow 100 accounts
  • Start exploring the Twitterholics ultimate guide

Next we explore Twitter further, compose a Tweet and learn about Hashtags

3 - Twitter

Following on from yesterday we explore how you can Tweet and hashtags. Carry on exploring the guide by Sue Waters -THE TWITTERAHOLIC’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TWEETS, HASHTAGS, AND ALL THINGS TWITTER and compose your first Tweet.

By now you would have come across the use of hashtags. Typing a pound sign (#) followed by a word or phrase (such as #edchat, #digitaledchat or #satchat) into a tweet makes a special link that searches Twitter for that word or phrase. This allows you to follow discussions, topics, live tweeting of conferences, or join Twitter chats (scheduled discussions of particular topics which are grouped together by hashtags for easy tracking), even if you don’t follow the users who are using that hashtag.

Cybraryman has created a page with over 300 educational Twitter hashtags being used, but there are plenty more out there and new ones constantly being created. Another guide by TeachThought - The Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags For Education and one by Getting Smart - 60 Popular Education Twitter Hashtags.

For, further exploration you can start looking at applications like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to help manage your Twitter Feed. Details on these are in the Guide above.

DAY/WEEK 3 - Challenge Checklist

  • Compose your First Tweet
  • Find 5 Hashtags that might be interesting
  • Retweet 5 tweets that you find through your hashtag search

Tomorrow we explore Google+ and how to use communities

4 - Google+

Google+, a social network operated by Google with integrations across a number of Google products. A key element of Google+ is a focus on targeted sharing within different social groups, and creating and being part of many different communities. Google+ links in with a Gmail account and provides another rich resource to connect with different people.

flickr photo by Jurgen Appelo https://flickr.com/photos/jurgenappelo/7749079494 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

There are many different uses for Google+ for teachers for their connections, classrooms, and personal lives. Explore some of these handy articles:

Everything Teachers need to know about Google+; 10 Google+ Communities Every Teacher Should Know About; 20 Awesome Google tips for Teachers; Beginner’s Guide To Google+ For Teachers (The Crib Sheet)

This great video tutorial explains it in detail how to get started with Google+. It is just over 15 minutes, but manages to take you step-by-step through understanding how to use Google+.

DAY/WEEK 4 - Challenge Checklist

  • Create your Google+ Profile
  • Join 5 communities
  • Follow 10 people
  • Like 5 interesting posts
  • Comment on 1 Post

Next we see the power of YouTube

5 - YouTube

YouTube, the online video-sharing site is now the 2nd largest search engine in the world and forms part of the whole Google universe. Making and sharing your own videos is easier than it ever has been. Nearly every phone, laptop, or shoot camera has a video camera built in. Videos can be uploaded for the world to see and embedded on most websites. As an educator you can find some great resources for your classes, have the opportunity to share your own videos, and also use it for your own learning

Get started by visiting YouTube and log in with your Google account. Create your profile and watch one of the tutorials about creating your own channel. Then look at how you can subscribe to various channels and create your own personal video playlists.

Below is an image of one of the Channels you could subscribe to, with a few more suggestions to the right.

Here is an example of a Playlist I created on 'Why Connect'

DAY/WEEK 5 - Challenge Checklist

  • Create your YouTube Profile
  • Subscribe to 5 Channels
  • Create a Playlist
  • Share a YouTube Video through Twitter and Google+

Next we explore the world of Podcasts

6 - Podcasts

Listening to Podcasts is a great way to spends few minutes and learn something new. There are many education-related podcasts where educators are sharing ideas, experiences, advice and practical examples. Explore these sites to discover some great shows.

The BAM Radio Network has an extensive collection of Podcasts on all sorts of topics that can be searched by your interest - https://www.bamradionetwork.com/

EduTopia has a list of Best Education Podcasts

The informative Australian Teachers Education Review

The Education Podcast Network

Extensive Collection on iTunes

DAY/WEEK 6 - Challenge Checklist

  • Listen to a few Podcast Episodes
  • Subscribe to Podcasts that interest you
  • Share a Podcast through Twitter and Google+

Next we explore the world of Facebook for Educators

7 - Facebook

Facebook is a global social network that has over 1.5 billion users and is the largest social network on the planet. Facebook is evolving into a website where people can access news, sell products, create communities, groups, and broaden their networks. There are numerous educators on Facebook where they have created a Page for their classes, their work or common interest groups. As a user, you can follow a page or become a member of a group, or create your own. Through these connections, you are able to share resources, learn and connect with other teachers.

  • If you do not want to join Facebook, then you can skip today and maybe revisit one of the previous tools.

Here are a few activities to get you started with Facebook.

  • Create a Facebook account
  • Search for friends, family, or colleagues and add them as friends to start making connections.

Other ideas on using Facebook: 100 Ways you should use Facebook in your classroom, Professional Teachers use Facebook, The Facebook Guide for Teachers

DAY/WEEK 7 - Challenge Checklist

  • Sign up to Facebook
  • Connect with Friends
  • Like 3-5 pages by groups that you are interested in
  • Find an interesting article and Share through Twitter, Google+ & Facebook

Next we explore LinkedIN


8 - LinkedIN

LinkedIN is a large community of passionate professionals in every field imaginable, and a never-ending stream of professional development gold. One extremely powerful feature of LinkedIn is the ability to form groups around common interests. These groups vary in size, scale and activity, but are a great meeting place to expand, enhance and explode you PLN. It is a site to craft your professional identity that may lead to finding work, staying informed, and having access to a wealth of knowledge.

These articles shed some light on the way teachers can embrace LinkedIN and create a network.

LinkedIn Tips for Teachers

LinkedIn and the Growing Field of Teacher Networking

25 LinkedIn Groups for Networking Teachers

7 ways that teachers can use LinkedIn to get ahead

DAY/WEEK 8 - Challenge Checklist

  • Sign up to LinkedIN
  • Create your Profile
  • Connect with 10 people
  • Find an interesting article and Share on Twitter, Google+, Facebook & LinkedIN

Next we explore TeachMeets

9 - TeachMeets

A different network to the online communities is that of the physical connections made through TeachMeets. They are informal, collaborative experiences organised by educators, for educators in order to share ideas and experiences and support each other in their professional growth. ANYONE can host a TeachMeet: all teachers are potential hosts and participants. They are Teacher-driven and highly participatory, free, and engaging. TeachMeets are organised freely, in teachers’ spare time. They are not-for-profit and are designed to bring teachers together, to have a voice and to share classroom ideas. They usually run between 2-3 hours if held after a school day, or can be as long or short depending on the circumstances. They are such a valuable opportunity to learn and connect with educators from around a district.

Ewan McIntosh shares below about the origins of TeachMeets and Matt Esterman on Why he loves TeachMeets.

A few sites that have info on TeachMeets happening in their areas can be accessed here, but once you start connecting with a PLN through the social media sites you will hear about TeachMeets on a regular basis.

TeachMeet Australia

TM Sydney

TM Western Australia

TM Queensland

TM New Jersey

TM London

DAY/WEEK 9 - Challenge Checklist

  • Explore the different sites
  • Find out if there is a TM in your region
  • If there is, make a note and take a friend to it
  • If there is not, maybe think of how you might start one yourself

Next we finish with Blogging

10 - Blogging

One of the best ways to build and contribute to your PLN is through blogging, where you can share your writing and thoughts online. There are thousands of Blogs and many different platforms to select. Some of the most popular sites are Blogger, Wordpress & EduBlogs. Blogging has many benefits; such as a space to share, reflect on your practice, publish your work, improve writing skills, and a place to serve others with your resources and ideas.

These links have lists of highly recommended blogs:

52 Education Blogs you should follow

Teach100

EduBlog Awards

DAY/WEEK 10 - Challenge Checklist

  • Select 10 Blogs to Subscribe toFind out if there is a TM in your region
  • Read 5 Blog Posts and share them with your PLN through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIN

FINAL CHALLENGE

Over the next week you need to look at starting your journey as a blogger, which is an important step along the way to building your personal learning network and being a connected educator. Select a platform that you feel comfortable with and  develop your Blog. Write a reflection of your journey with the Connected Educator 10 Day Challenge and then share it with your PLN.

Enjoy the journey and life as a connected educator.

Created by Jacques du Toit

Connect with me on Twitter @jdtriver

Please leave any comments below or send me a message on ways to improve the challenge.

Comment Stream