Being a #ConnectedEducator is vital in today’s fast-paced, social media world. We have taken a look at what it means to be a connected educator, creating a stellar profile, defining your brand, and following people, hashtags, and companies.
AASL’s School Library Month theme for 2018 is Making Connections at Your School Library. A quick Google search for #ConnectedLearners returned several social media posts, including images, queries, and requests for connections. Several posts were made by students. That alone shows that students are connecting on their own. But how can you model, facilitate, and create connected learners?
Skype for Education
Skype for Education offers a plethora of ways to connect. Skype in the Classroom offers five different ways to connect your students with the world around them. Mystery Skype is a popular way to introduce students to new places and people. It’s a great way to incorporate geography into your lessons. The Skype website plays host to lessons, virtual field trips, and collaboration opportunities.
Skype can also be used to connect your learners to professionals in a wide range of fields. Bring in guests via Skype! Skype with a Scientist is a program that connects your learners to a scientist in a teacher-chosen field for a 30-60 minute Q-and-A session.
Don’t have access to Skype on your campus? Google Hangouts is a great alternative.
Google Apps for Education (GAFE)
Google Apps for Education is a common means of connection for schools. Because products created in the Google Cloud can be shared, they can become a vehicle for collaboration. Connecting students to others can be as simple as sharing a Doc. Projects that require collaboration build an atmosphere of connection for learners.
Connected learners not only connect with other learners, but they also connect with new places. With Google EarthCam, learners can connect to new places via live cameras. Start with a view of the earth, and then zoom into the desired country. Learners will quickly discover live-feed cameras and be able to view activity in real time. You can also search EarthCam by location.
Google Treks connect students to their curriculum by providing a self-guided virtual field trip. For example, a student can take a trek through Tanzania to “discover the forest home of Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research.”
Learners can also connect by publishing their work. Not only does this provide a personal connection, it also allows students to own something. Tools such as Buncee, Animoto, and ChatterPix (among others) allow students to produce work and share it with others.
Creation allows learners to demonstrate their learning in an individual way. Students are able to become connected learners by sharing their work that is meaningful. By having students create a product to demonstrate their learning and then share it or publish it, they are building connections through experience. Sharing in the classroom creates an environment in which students become comfortable and confident with their work. Creation tools are the perfect instrument to connect learners to products and on to connecting and sharing their products.
Model connecting through your social media. Allow your students to watch you post online. They get so excited to see you sharing their work. In order to create connected learners, we must first be connected educators. Secondly, we must model digital citizenship. How can you model what you’re teaching if you aren’t actually using it yourself?
Post requests to connect with classrooms. Ask an author a question from a class. Set up a classroom or library account that students can use in the library. Let them post and share in a space in which you can facilitate their learning and connecting. Create a hashtag for students, teachers, and parents to use.
Most importantly, get connected! Making connections matters in OUR school libraries.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.