U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has named August as Connected Educator Month. The U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative seeks to celebrate and encourage educators at all levels to collaborate and participate in online learning resources and communities.
I have directly benefited from online communities and learning networks. To be specific, I have benefited the most from Twitter. It’s fair to say any educator who has participated in an #edchat has benefited, thanks to Tom Whitby. I share Josh Stumpenhorst’s thoughts on Twitter from his recent blog post. Twitter has broken down the barriers of isolationism in my one-man business department. Helping others do the same was my motivation for starting a monthly #finedchat, an opportunity to share financial education ideas with others who share my passion.
Being a connected educator has further opened my eyes to the evolving role of technology in education, which has become an addiction of mine. Technology leaders in education, such as Steven Anderson, Jerry Blumengarten, Vicki Davis, Mary Beth Hertz, Edudemic, and many others are serving as game-changers for those of us who are wired in.
What I value the most about being a “connected” educator is that it improves my ability to be a “connecting” educator. As you can see on this video, technology is not revolutionary for students. It is a part of who they are. We owe it to our students to stay on top of the evolution of technology and correlating pedagogy. My goal is to be a connecting educator with my students. Listed below are my four favorite technology tools from this past year:
I teach finance, business and economic education. I do my best to stay on top of my content areas but it is hard to be an expert in everything. When it is appropriate, I bring in content experts as guest speakers. With Skype, I was able to bring in leading experts from across the country this past year. What I like the most about Skype is it is less intrusive on guest speakers and puts them in a position to stick to sharing their expertise through 15 -30 minute conversations rather then feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task of teaching in person.
The Flat Classroom
Vicki Davis created the flat classroom. I participated in my first flat classroom with her this spring. What I like the most about her creation is its correlation with the evolution of business. We need to prepare our students for a business culture of collaboration using technology. The best way to prepare them is to have them experience it first hand.
My students do not email, and they rarely talk on the phone. They text and they tweet. What better way to remind them of their homework then with a text message? Remind101 is a one-way communication tool. I do not see their phone numbers and they do not see mine. My students loved Remind101.
Financial Soccer challenges players to answer fast-paced, multiple-choice money management questions correctly to advance down the field for a chance to score a goal. The game offers single player and head-to-head game play options and is being translated into ten different languages. The game features three difficulty levels — geared to children, teens and adults. Players learn key concepts about saving, spending, budgeting, and the wise use of credit. I have to say my students from the previous year preferred financial football, and this is probably why.
In the spirit of connected educator month, please respond to this post by adding your favorite idea or tool that you have picked up as a result of being a connected educator.
Brian Page (@FinEdChat) received the Ohio Department of Education Milken National Educator Award in 2011 and was a 2012 Money magazine “Money Hero.” He currently teaches financial education and economics at Reading Community City Schools and serves as an outreach director with Cincinnati United.