“Generation C,” defined by communication and collaboration, is redefining its professional world around the term Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). The goal of Generation C educators and students is to create a streamlined source of information that meets personal education needs to become engaged, educated, and entertained. An evolution of these networks — from human to the Web to now social networks — can be seen during the career of a veteran educator who now sees the network of Generation C defined by curation of information from multiple sources, as well as a new definition of “connected educator.”
PLNs are beyond the established means of traditional information and education platforms, resulting in individuals creating their own links to experts, resources, and virtual environments. An interesting analogy to identify this personalization was a New York Times article discussing the of media and politics. The article states that citizens will migrate to the media outlets that most likely align with their viewpoints for validation and additional information.
That’s been my personal journey: Seeking out experts, think tanks, online resources, and social media connections to feed my instructional technology needs. What it has resulted in is a network of information, resources, best practices, and, most important, the validation of my own viewpoints about the vision of instructional technology. Generation C — defined by digital tools, social media, and real time information — has a plethora of tools at its fingertips on the Web and mobile devices. And as the Generation C of school-age learners emerges, these techniques and tools are emerging — in online gaming, entertainment, and educational sites as well as through badges, social-impact points, and personal devices to customize learning paths.
Tools that come to mind are Twitter, blogs, RSS feeders, online communities, and network channels. Whether you search for the “best of” lists, sites of the day (example: Larry Ferlazzo’s Website of the Day), curated sites like ScoopIt or Twitter, or follow personal blogs of any leading educational thinker, you are creating your own personalized network at your fingertips.
So how do you begin the journey to become a connected educator to build your own network, to advance your own learning, to become a more effective educator or leader? There are many curated list of “bests” lists to follow, social media options for experts, organizations, and ideas, as well as those constructed networks of educators to find common ideas, people, and information.
I am inspired by the elementary teachers who search Pinterest for the best bulletin board ideas, and by the teachers who search the Teaching Channel for curriculum-specific best practices or scavenge the suggested social media sites of educational experts. The Day in the Life of a Connected Educator infograph brings to light that as we are expanding our own learning beyond the classroom walls, we gain perspective, knowledge, and a learning style that can become a powerful strategy to engage students in real-world information, communication, and technologies.
After reviewing the suggested list of 25 Ways Teachers Can Connect More with Their Colleagues or Five Tips for New Educators to Become Connected Educators, the six important ways to become a connected educator in the digital age of learning and teaching are:
- Defining the purpose and needs of forming a personal network with an understanding of how you are going to create connectivity with people, resources and ideas.
- Begin with identifying your network around you — colleagues, community resources and educational training supports to reach out and connect.
- Expand your personal network to non-traditional methods of connectivity via the web, virtual connections and social media to your personalized content and pedagogy needs.
- Sign up for list-servs to create a personalized information network delivered to your inbox to curate resources for your educator tool box.
- Create your own web presence and select at least one social media tool to enter the world of personalized information.
- Be a contributor as successful PLNs to rely on the old philosophy of you have to “give and take.”
The next step of an educator is to learn from Generation C, who is reshaping education not by age but by its function and operation in the digital world. Next we will explore the reverse mentoring role of learners as one of the most important parts of our PLNs. Meanwhile, see many more Connected Educator resources here on GETideas.org.