For the past two years, October has been Connected Educators Month (CEM), an opportunity for teachers across the country to network, share learning strategies, and discuss curriculum integration. As educators look to more effectively use a wide range of Ed Tech in the classroom, Connected Educators Month encourages not only communication between teachers, but also collaboration between educators and technology developers. CEM was originally launched by the U.S. Department of Education along with several educational partners. Today, CEM reaches millions of teachers worldwide.
Goals of CEM
The goals of Connected Educators Month are wide ranging, but the main focus is on getting more educators invested in technology and global networking. Connected Educators lists the following goals:
- Get more educators proficient in using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
- Educate teachers and administrators who are already connected and familiar with the basics of educational technology.
- Help schools integrate connectivity into professional development practices.
- Encourage innovation in the field.
In general, CEM is an annual catalyst for technology developers and educators to converse and collaborate with the goal of better connecting classrooms worldwide. CEM emphasizes learning strategies such as digital storytelling, social media mastery, and utilization of the Internet. Moving forward, CEM will likely expand to include more educators across the globe, extend to include mobile devices and the Internet of Things, and increase collaboration.
CEM 2012 and 2013
Though Connected Educators Month is a recent initiative, having only been launched in 2012, the program saw drastic expansion in 2013 and is expected to continue to grow in 2014. According to Connected Educators, more than three times the amount of educators and other users reached out over Twitter in 2013 as compared to 2012—a total of more than 14 million people. In 2013, entire states and districts participated, truly making this international initiative a success. This focus on learning was praised by news outlets and has brought attention to the importance of a fully blended curriculum in schools around the world.
Social media during CEM, therefore, has two important functions:
- Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter allows educators to practice using this connective technology and then integrate those skills into their classrooms.
- Social media raises awareness of CEM itself and thereby gets more people involved and invested in educational technology.
Connected Educators Month 2014 looks to build and expand on the initiatives of the two previous years. Current partners include the American Institutes for Research, Powerful Learning Practice, Digital Promise, and Grunwald Associates LLC. Based on feedback, the goals for CEM 2014 include the following:
- Make the event more global, focusing on countries that have not participated in the past and supporting the development of event schedules internationally.
- Add more events and activities that involve the entire community, including parents, teachers, students, and policymakers.
- Use CEM as a platform to develop initiatives that take place throughout the rest of the year.
- Focus mobile and blended learning.
- Emphasize collaboration to truly connect educators from different geographical areas.
Connectededucators.org has a full listing of events scheduled throughout the month; however, individual educators, schools, and districts have planned their own events to celebrate this month of teacher connectivity. CEM highlights the different backgrounds of many educators while also showcasing the common need for Ed Tech applications. Publicly sharing this information will hopefully get more stakeholders involved with crafting fully blended educational settings and preparing students for a future in which technology is vital to education. As this event becomes more popular, it will ideally create a worldwide ecosystem of collaborative educators.