Unconnected Learners

I just finished listening in on Teachers Teaching Teachers tonight.  It was the kick-off for Connected Educators Month.  Check out the link here. Through many different topics and conversations that took place in the session, I decided to write my blog post tonight about connected learners and the unconnected learners that are reluctant to be connected.

Since going through the Summer Institute in 2010, I consider myself a connected learner.  What does this mean?  Well, it means I stay connected with other professionals through various social media sites, or other web platforms where ideas can be shared and essentially we become better teachers because we learn what is working in each other’s classroom and go forward with more learning tools in our belts.  For example, I find Twitter to be a phenomenal place to get unscripted professional development.  I find new websites, digital tools, and have conversations with other educators that help enrich my teaching. In addition, I may attend webinars, online book talks, or participate in subscribing to a blog.  There is a cornucopia of ways to be a connected learner.

Enriching my teaching and my students as learners is what I crave and what I thrive for each and every day.  The idea of “not being in teacher mode” during the summer or any other time of year, never crosses my mind.  I am not cutting down educators that may have made that comment in the past.  Don’t get me wrong, we all need a break.  I can’t help but wonder why there are teachers out there who do not want be connected or help their students become connected learners.  I understand there are districts who prevent their teachers from using technology to enhance their student’s learning.  This does not mean the teacher themselves can’t become connected in some way to help their students.  Also, what actually holds teachers back from becoming a connected learner and discovering the possibilities that awaits them?  Is it fear of using something like Twitter, Facebook, or Google +?  Perhaps it is the lack of knowledge of such technological tools and what they offer.  I also wonder if there are still teachers out there who think technology is just another gimmick, bell, or whistle to bring in the classroom.  Wait,  it is less of a wonder and more of a “I know”; but there are teachers who believe using technology within their lessons is just an excuse to use it. Grasping and understanding the “why” has not been attained.

One specific topic that came about in the discussion tonight was “lurkers”.  Lurkers are those people who in reality are connected, but never participate in what is happening.  For instance, I have participated in webinars where individual participants don’t do anything to actively participate in the session.  They sit and watch and are just there.  What motivates these individuals to “lurk”?  Are they not confident, just being good listeners, or are they just there because they have to be there as a requirement by a principal?

Connected Learning month will hopefully answer some of the questions that were brought up tonight.  On the other hand, the answers may already exist.  Nevertheless, connected learning can be powerful for teachers and students.  Online book discussions, webinars, social media with students, Youth Voices, Digital Is, etc. are all great ways to be connected and become better teachers and help your students be better learners.  Check out more resources on the National Writing Project’s Digital Is website for connected learning.


5 thoughts on “Unconnected Learners

  1. Thanks for introducing me to “Connected Learners” as I’ve yet to partake–I’ll give it a look this week particularly since this is Connected Learners month–a great month, just before or as we embark on a new school year. As far as lurkers, if they profit from what they hear and children benefit–that works for me. I sometimes “lurk” as I watch the teacher who is the apt coach on the playground, the good friend and problem solver and the social whiz–they’re not blogging or tweeting, but they’re using their skills and talents to help children and I’m learning from them as I “lurk.” I appreciate your posts and sharing–thanks.

  2. Thanks for the post, Jeremy. One reason I advocate for and participate in connected learning is the 24-7 access to professionals with a high degree of choice. With the massive flow and storage now at hand, the importance of discernment seems more important than ever. My way of sharpening my filter and keeping a keen nose involves “the path of attraction.” I believe something deep in my core knows why I’m here and who I am; my disciplined work is to tune in. To do this, I skim (“lurk” perhaps but I’m not drawn to the negative tone of that term), turn on and off Twitter, monitor my capacity and engage electronically or “escape” (another term that potentially masks the positive potential). One of the best regular tune-ups for me is riding my horse in the discipline of dressage because it teaches me knowing by “feel” and that’s the way I believe we’ll have to negotiate this field of participatory learning. I’m often wondering how you and Kevin and others manage to balance your busy lives and stay so active in connected learning when many teachers seem at the edge of burn-out. Take care, Joseph

    • Joseph,

      Thank you for your comment. I really have to sit and think about how I am able to do so much most of the time. Some of it I can attribute to my undergrad work where I played sports and was immersed in my academics around the clock it seemed. Staying connected for me keeps me constantly re-energized and ready to teach every day.

      I do think there are negative feels with some of the terms used with being connected. I too feel there is something to be said about being disconnected at times. I love being in the woods to hunt because it allows me to reflect.

      Thanks again!

  3. I’m right there with the above comment. I started learning by lurking, then I learned what I could share. Sometimes I feel I don’t know enough to contribute, but now I know that I can ask questions and others lurking probably have the same questions. I think connecting with ore teachers is truly a learning process. I began using Twitter in February, and have to remind myself frequently that some people still think it’s like Facebook! But I thought that not too long ago. Good for you – getting connected way back in 2010! In this digital age, that was 20 years ago!

    Thanks for the post – it is a good reminder to stay connected, and join in the conversation!

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