The Connected Educator Month ReportIn August 2012, Powerful Learning Practice was proud to be one of the key organizations in collaboration with the US Department of Education to bring about Connected Educator Month, a celebration of online communities of practice and networks in education.

Here at PLP, we are all about Connected Learning Communities – which embody our three-pronged approach to professional development. This is what our Connected Learner Experience is all about – building networks, connecting educators to one another, and relearning what we think we know. It’s no surprise that we were involved and instrumental in Connected Educator Month.

This week, the USDOE released a report all about Connected Educator Month – including the goals, numbers, impact, and recommendations for going forward. We wanted to highlight a few things from the report and encourage you to download and read it yourself.

Fourth-grade teacher, PLPeep and Voices blogger Becky Bair was quoted in the report,

“If you were to ask people what the best part about being a connected educator is, many would probably tell you that being connected lets you learn more than you would ever learn at your own building.”

-Becky Bair

Why does this matter for education?

From the report:

Connected Educator Month delivered at least 90,000 hours of professional development to teachers and other educators—and demonstrated that online social learning and collaboration can complement individual, school, district, and state efforts to improve professional excellence and, ultimately, student learning. In the refrain of many participants who took advantage of the month-long feast of online offerings, “Every month should be Connected Educator Month.”

Connected Educator Month by the Numbers

The Connected EducatorPowerful Learning Practice was proud to bring two of the key activities for individuals who participated in Connected Educator Month.

The Connected Educators Book Club brought experienced and less connected educators together to discuss Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall’s The Connected Educator book. Participation began during Connected Educator Month and covered a chapter a week for 10 weeks—well beyond the event.

Starter KitThe Connected Educator Starter Kit (created by Powerful Learning Practice) provided a 31-day program for educators to get more connected, with one simple activity to engage in for each day. Thousands of educators took advantage of this resource. You can download a free copy here (activities apply year round).

Connected Educator Month had a wide impact, here are some of the numbers.

  • 4 million+ followers on the #ce12 hashtag by the end of August 2012
  • 1.4 million impressions per day, on average, on Twitter generated by Connected Educator Month hashtags
  • 251,000 exact phrase references to “Connected Educator Month” on sites throughout the Internet in August 2012, including 36,000+ references in blog posts, according to a Google search conducted at the end of August 2012
  • 493,000 exact phrase references to “Connected Educator Month” on sites throughout the Internet two months later, showing continued and growing interest in the event well after it ended

What we learned

Powerful Learning Practice uses a research-based model of PD to connect educators through online communities of practice, so we weren’t surprised that the month was so popular and successful, but it’s very exciting to see the United States Department of Education promoting collaboration, professional development through connected learning, and teacher use of online communities of practice.

Their new goals for educators reflect some of the lessons learned:

  • Raising the visibility and showcasing the benefits of online social learning and collaboration
  • Broadening and deepening participation in online communities and networks
  • Promoting the practice of being a “connected educator” as central to professional identity and excellence
  • Supporting innovation in the field
  • Encouraging collaboration among organizations and individuals

The Time Is Right and Educators Are Ready

The groundswell of participation from organizations and individual educators indicates that there seems to be a hunger in the field for online social learning and collaboration. Many educators around the country already are enthusiastically participating, and others are ready to connect, learn, and collaborate for the first time. Moreover, the technologies that support online learning and collaboration are relatively mature, accessible, and affordable. Furthermore, educators and organizations are eager to use technology to support meaningful interactions around teaching, learning, strategies, and challenges.

Powerful Learning Practice applauds the USDOE in recognizing the need for collaborative, social learning! We stand with them in their quest to get the message of connected learning out to all schools.

Do you wish every month could be Connected Educator Month?

We have good news! It can. If you join us for the Connected Learner Experience – a 7 month, coached, choose-your-own-adventure style professional learning journey. We take the ideas and concepts that were introduced in Connected Learner Month and extend it throughout every aspect of your teaching practice. Watch the short video below and learn more here.

We hope you’ll join us to learn together this year and become the next wave of Connected Educators.

About the author
Powerful Learning Practice is professional development for the 21st Century. Our model is collaborative and community-based. We've helped over 4,000 teachers and administrators worldwide to re-envision their classrooms, schools, and their roles in education. Become a part of the movement today. Sign up for an info session to find out more, and while you're at it, follow us on Twitter.