DRAFTConnected Educator Month ReportLearning WithConnected and Inspired EducatorsFebruary 2013U.S. Department of EducationOffice of Educational Technology

DRAFTContentsIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Why Connected Educator Month? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231 Event-Filled Days: Design and Elements of Connected Educator Month . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Four Key Strategies of Connected Educator Month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4STRATEGY 1: Core Programming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5STRATEGY 2: Communication and Coordination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6STRATEGY 3: Support for Participants and Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6STRATEGY 4: Postevent Activities, Resources, and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7The Impact of Connected Educator Month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8Extensive Participation by Individual Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8Broad Participation by Diverse Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Putting Learning First . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Benefits: Professional Development, Collaboration, and Shared Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . 13Lessons From Connected Educator Month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14The Time Is Right and Educators Are Ready . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14Validation Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Convene, Support—and Play Matchmaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16Beyond “Build It and They Will Come” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17Next Steps and Recommendations forMoving Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191. Make Participation Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192. Make Participation Easier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203. Broaden and Deepen Participation and Collaboration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204. Strengthen Research on the Impact of Online Social Learning and Collaboration . . . . . 21A Call to Action: Connect Every Educator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

AcknowledgmentsThis report was developed under the guidanceof Karen Cator and Bernadette Adams ofthe U.S. Department of Education, Office ofEducational Technology.Development of this report was led by DarrenCambridge of American Institutes for Research(AIR) with Tom de Boor of Grunwald AssociatesLLC doing much of the drafting and withsubstantial writing and editing from Grunwald’sMartha Vockley. The report also benefits fromfeedback from Peter Grunwald of GrunwaldAssociates, as well as Claudette Rasmussenof AIR.It would be impossible to thank here everyonewho contributed to Connected Educator Monthitself. Special thanks, however, need to go tomembers of the core team who produced theevent, again under the guidance of Karen Catorand Bernadette Adams: Darren Cambridge andTom de Boor led the team; Sheryl NussbaumBeach of Powerful Learning Practice and SteveHargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0, both playedfoundational roles in planning and executing theevent. Jenn Johnson and Tim Shaw of ForumOne Communication led development of theConnected Educator Month website. MarshalConley of AIR served as a project manager,keeping track of a large number of collaboratorsand task under a tight timeline and greater thananticipated interest. Lauren Staley at AIR providedcrucial administrative and communicationssupport. Audrey Mann Cronin of Mann Cronin PRhandled media outreach, and Helen Soule andothers working with Grunwald Associates helpedto recruit key participating organizations andcompanies. Keith Krueger and Gordon Dahlby ofLearning With Connected and Inspired Educatorsthe Consortium for School Networking providedoutreach to districts, and Lia Dossin, GeoffFletcher, and Doug Levin of the State EducationTechnology Directors Association did likewise atthe state level.Thanks to all the Connected Educator Monthparticipating organizations. In particular, thanksto International Society for Technology inEducation (ISTE) for allowing us to announceConnected Educator Month at their annualmeeting, and to Adobe, Cisco, and ProTeacherCommunity for providing core technologiesused in Connected Educator Month, as well asfor participating in the event. We also want tospecially acknowledge all the organizations andprojects not already recognized in the previousparagraph that either ran multiple events orplayed significant roles in them, or ran activitiesrequiring social support over the course ofmultiple days in August, including AcademicPartnerships, Advanced E-Learning Solutions,Alabama Best Practices Center, AmericanAssociation of School Administrators, AmericanAssociation of School Librarians, ArtPlantaeToday, ASCD, Blackboard, BookMentors,BrainPOP, BrightTALK, the Center for TeachingQuality, C4 Model of Learning, Common CoreConversation, Connected Learning Coalition,ConnectedPD, CUE, DeforestACTION, DiscoveryEducation, edcamp, #edchat, EdLeader21,EdTech Leaders Online, Edublogs, EducatorsPLN, Educrates, Edutopia,, ElearningInnovation, English Language Learners University,ePals, epic-ed, Evans-Newton, Flat Classrooms,Flipped Learning Network, Follett Software,Future Educators Association, G.A.M.E., GamesBased Learning MOOC, Games in Education,i

Gartner Inc., iCollaboratory, IDEO, InnovativeEducator Consulting, Intel, International ReadingAssociation, Knovation, Lamar University, theMacArthur Foundation and Digital Media andLearning Research Hub, MediaCAST, MobileLearning MOOC (Deutsch and Winegar), NationalCouncil of Teachers of English, National Council ofTeachers of Mathematics, National High SchoolCenter, National Science Teachers Association,National Writing Project, #NCADMIN, New TechNetwork, the New York State Association forComputers and Technologies in Education,the New York Times Learning Network,, Personalize Learning, PhiDelta Kappa International, Pi Lambda Theta,P2PU, #satchat, Saywire, Software InformationiiIndustry Association, Solution Tree, Source forLearning, Springboard Media, SRI International,TakingITGlobal, TeachersFirst, TechnologyIntegration in Education, Teq, Unplug’d, VirginiaSociety for Technology in Education, YouPD.Our apologies to anyone who ran multiple ormultiday activities we were not aware of in all theexcitement of the month.The primary technical working group for theConnected Educators project also providing keyguidance and support. They are, in addition toHargadon and Nussbaum-Beach, Al Byers, TomCarroll, Gavin Dykes, Andrew Gardner, MikeMarriner, Shelley Pasnik, Nichole Pinkard, LindaRoberts, and Etienne Wenger-Trayner.Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators

Introduction“Every month should be Connected Educator Month.”Learning With Connected and Inspired EducatorsAs a prelude to the 2012–13 school year,thousands of educators converged online toconnect and learn from one another. Drawn byprofessional interests and shared passions,educators gathered for hundreds of virtual eventsand activities at a time traditionally dedicated toprofessional development. For many, the virtualexperiences offered fresh, different, and highlyengaging professional interactions.The August 2012 event was the first-everConnected Educator Month, a celebration ofonline communities of practice and networksin education. Envisioned as an opportunity toinspire educators around the country, ConnectedEducator Month ended up inspiring us andscores of participating organizations as well.Learning With Connected and Inspired EducatorsWhy does it matter for education? ConnectedEducator Month delivered at least 90,000hours of professional development to teachersand other educators—and demonstrated thatonline social learning and collaboration cancomplement individual, school, district, andstate efforts to improve professional excellenceand, ultimately, student learning. In the refrainof many participants who took advantage ofthe month-long feast of online offerings, “Everymonth should be Connected Educator Month.”This report highlights results and insightsfrom Connected Educator Month and offersrecommendations for connecting and inspiringmore educators in powerful and engaging onlineinteractions.1

Why Connected Educator Month?“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 morethan you would ever learn at your own building.”—Becky Bair, fourth-grade teacher,Elizabethtown Area School District, PennsylvaniaThe 2010 National Education Technology Planadvocates for “highly connected teaching” inorder to best support student learning (Officeof Educational Technology, 2010). Throughconnected teaching, educators have constantaccess to data, digital content, and resources,as well as to experts and one another to meetthe challenges of daily classroom practice and tolearn and grow as professionals.To support this model, the Office of EducationalTechnology launched the Connected Educatorsproject, a collaborative, public–private effort tohelp education stakeholders and fectively in online communities of practice andto learn more about the development of personallearning networks. A review and synthesisof the research about online communities(Office of Educational Technology, 2011) founddocumented evidence that these communitiescan support systematic, transformative changein teaching and learning. Specifically, onlinecommunities empower educators to¡¡ Access, share, and create knowledge¡¡ Build professional identity, relationships, andcollaboration2This research, along with a review and analysisof notable online communities, also uncovered athriving ecosystem of opportunities for educatorsto learn and collaborate online. Thousandsof educators connect with the assistance ofhundreds of projects and organizations, whichoffer online events, activities, tools, and socialspaces appropriate to educators in virtually anysubject area, grade level, and role. They followeach other, ask questions, and share expertise.Moreover, educators who take advantage ofthese opportunities value them considerably andbelieve they are essential to their professionallives.Still, while growing in numbers, many educatorsare not yet participating in professional onlinecommunities or networks (MMS Education, edWeb,& MCH Strategic Data, 2012; PBS & Grunwald,2011). In light of the potential benefits, this is amissed opportunity for individual educators andtheir students—and for schools, districts, states,and organizations that also stand to benefit fromempowered, connected educators.This insight spurred the Connected Educatorsproject to orchestrate Connected EducatorMonth, an unprecedented initiative of theLearning With Connected and Inspired Educators

U.S. Department of Education to bring togetherscores of participating organizations and engageeducators en masse in online professionalexperiences. The broad goals of ConnectedEducator Month were as follows:Five Broad Goals of Connected Educator Month1. Raise the visibility and showcase the benefitsof online social learning and collaboration.2. Encourage unconnected educators to getconnected and give connected educatorsmore ways to broaden and deepen theirparticipation.Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators3. Promote the practice of being a “connectededucator” as central to what it means to bea member of a profession that demandscontinual learning and growth.4. Support innovation in an emerging andpromising field.5. Encourage more collaboration amongorganizations and individual educators and toaccelerate progress toward a more seamless,connected education community.3

31 Event-Filled Days: Design and Elements ofConnected Educator Month“Connected Educator Month was a powerful and creative way to get educatorstogether around topics of shared passion. For me it was a month-longcelebration of connectedness and learning that pushed my thinkingand inspired me to create.”—Laurie Toll, technology integration specialist,Osseo Area Schools, Maple Grove, MinnesotaRecent research about social learning andengagement of participants guided thenontraditional design and elements of ConnectedEducator Month. Organizations can best supportlearning if they find ways to tap into the existing“flow” of interests and learning and shape thecontexts in which learning is already occurring(Hagel, Brown, & Davison, 2010; Thomas &Brown, 2011), rather than trying to impose theirown agendas. Organizations can, at the sametime, serve an important and emerging leadershiprole as “systems conveners” who create sociallearning spaces that “engage people acrossboundaries in the landscape” to work togetherto solve complex challenges, such as those thatabound in education (Wenger-Trayner, n.d.).Emerging models of connected education alsoinformed the programming of online events andactivities of Connected Educator Month. Forexample, the “connectivist” form of massivelyopen online courses (MOOCs)—a type ofonline course aimed at large-scale participationand open access that is gaining in popularityinternationally—engage participants by inviting4them to participate as much or as little as theywant and by encouraging them to independentlydevelop content, engage in activities, andinteract with others (Mackness, Mak, &Williams, 2010). These participant activitiescomplement core content and activities and areflexible enough to accommodate a wide rangeof individual schedules and needs. The contentand conversations can be aggregated and sharedlong after the courses are over.Four Key Strategies ofConnected Educator MonthThe U.S. Department of Education took on theleadership role and served as the convener ofConnected Educator Month. With the broadergoals of connected education in mind, and guidedby the research, the Connected Educators projectdeveloped four key strategies to create sociallearning spaces that would engage educatorsand organizations alike:1. Offer core programming derived fromeducators’ and organizational interests.Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators

2.Foster cross-organizational and crossdisciplinary collaboration with comprehensivecommunication and coordination.3. Support participants and organizations withmultiple opportunities to engage in and buildupon core programming and to connect withothers around shared interests.4. Extend the reach and the impact of thecore programming and connections beyondthe 31-day blitz with postevent activities,resources, and archives.The Connected Educators project worked inconcert with scores of participating organizationsto execute these strategies. Highlights of the coreprogramming, communication and coordination,support for participants and organizations, andpostevent efforts follow. A complete descriptionof these elements is provided in the Appendix.STRATEGY 1: Core ProgrammingTapping Into the Flow of Interests“[I] think the initial kickoff panels were very thoughtprovoking (at least for me) and really set the tonefor my thinking for the entire month with regard tomy blog posts, my participation in forums, anddiscussions on Twitter.”—Stephanie Sandifer, 15-year educator,technology coach, and author, Houston, TexasConnected Educator Month was launched with a“spine” of core programming, seeding a highlydistributed, much larger collection of events andactivities among the participating organizations.This core programming served as a focal pointaround which organizations could build diverse,flexible, and connected learning experiences:Learning With Connected and Inspired EducatorsSix Themes and Forums. The ConnectedEducators project reached out for input on topicsfor the event to participating organizations andthrough this process, identified six themes:1. 21st century professional development2. Personalized learning (“It’s Personal”)3. Distributed leadership andchange (“Beyond Top Down”)teacher-led4. New technologies and connected education(“Knocking on the Door”)5. Incentives and recognition (“Giving CreditWhere Credit Is Due”)6. Connected education and the first six weeksof schoolA combination of real-time and asynchronouselements, including online panels during themonth’s opening and closing sessions andforums throughout the month, kept the spotlighton these six themes. Participating organizationscontributed to this emphasis.The Connected Educator Month Website servedas a hub for all activities, with links to activitiesof scores of participating organizations.Kickoff. Connected Educator Month began witha three-day kickoff, launched at midnight onAugust 1, 2012, that included real-time panels,keynotes, debates, and informal chats featuringthought leaders both inside and outsideeducation. This packed three-day opening to themonth galvanized attention on the event andgave educators a window into the variety of waysin which they could participate.A Worldwide Virtual Conference. A five-daymidmonth Learning 2.0 conference featuredrenowned education thought leaders, whoinitiated a global conversation on rethinkingteaching and learning in the age of the Internet.5

Wrap-Up and Next Steps. The final sessions ofConnected Educator Month revisited many ofthe same topics as the opening sessions; theirprimary purpose was to synthesize the events ofthe month, reflect on the collective learning, andgenerate primary takeaways and action items forthe field.¡¡ Daily newsletters distributed via e-mail andLinkedIn groups with coordinated Twittertweets and retweets and Facebook posts¡¡ Regular, targeted communications includingtools and materials for redistribution withparticipating organizations and schooldistricts, starting in early July¡¡ Outreach to key media outlets and bloggersSTRATEGY 2: Communicationand CoordinationEngaging People Across Boundaries“Connected Educator Month helps to highlight theopportunities we have to work together, share ideas,and learn from each other around the country—andaround the world!”—Sue Waters, editor,The Edublogger, and Edublogs community facilitatorIn the months and weeks before ConnectedEducator month, the organizers championed thevalue of formal participation by organizations,thought leaders within education and in otherindustries, leading practitioners, and presenters.This communication and coordination effort tookmany forms, including public announcementsand private invitations; face-to-face and virtualmeetings; and introductions, brainstormingsessions, and negotiations that led tocollaborative events and activities. The projectcontinued to work to engage organizations andindividual educators before and during the eventin other ways.Event Promotion and Outreach. An extensivepromotional and outreach plan backed everyaspect of Connected Education Month. Thepromotion and outreach included6¡ ¡ Purposeful engagement by participatingorganizations to promote ConnectedEducator MonthAn Adaptive Calendar. Connected Educator Monthfeatured an open calendar that participatingorganizations could add to before the event andmodify throughout the month. The color-codedcalendar was topically tagged and designed tomake it easy for educators to find topics, events,and activities that would be of interest to them.STRATEGY 3: Support for Participantsand OrganizationsCreating Multiple Entry Points forEngagement“Connected Educator Month is wonderfully alignedwith our values at TakingITGlobal (TIG). We feel that inorder to serve students as learners and leaders in the21st century, they must be empowered to think andact as global citizens, and this starts with educatorsbeing connected around the world, through the useof technology.”—Kate Gatto, education program manager,TakingITGlobalBy design, Connected Educator Month offered avast array of events and activities. This deliberateLearning With Connected and Inspired Educators

attempt to give people important topics—anddifferent formats, technologies, and timeframeswith which to connect and engage—had thepotential to overwhelm newcomers. To mitigatethat possibility, the Connected Educators projectcreated a number of structures and tools thatprovided some direct support and multiple entrypoints for engagement in the content and thecommunity of participants:For individuals¡¡ The Connected Educators Book Club broughtexperienced and less connected educatorstogether to discuss Sheryl Nussbaum-Beachand Lani Ritter Hall’s Connected Educator.Participation began during ConnectedEducator Month and covered a chapter aweek for 10 weeks—well beyond the event.¡¡ The Connected Educator Starter Kit provideda 31-day program for educators to get moreconnected, with one simple activity to engagein for each day.¡¡ The Connected Educator Help Desk provided aquestion-and-answer service for participants.For participating organizations¡¡ A District Toolkit provided practical tools thatenabled integration of Connected EducatorMonth into back-to-school professionaldevelopment, promotion of the event tolocal educators, and tracking and measuringthe impact of Connected Educator Monthactivities.¡¡ A Resource Center provided a wide varietyof materials and tools for promoting andcontributing to Connected Educator Month.STRATEGY 4: Postevent Activities,Resources, and ArchivesExtending the Reach and Impact ofConnected Learning“Time should never be an excuse for not seeking outways to improve #ce12.”—Eric Scheninger, principal, New Milford HighSchool, New JerseyAs the research for Connected Educator Monthshows, the best online social learning occursacross boundaries, including the boundaries oftime and the limitations of individuals’ schedules.The Connected Educators project attended tothis research with postevent elements of theevent, some of which are described below (seep. 23 for more), which ensure that the contentand conversations live on:Contests. Connected Educators encouragedorganizations to develop contests, challenges,and games for the event and beyond andmaintained a dedicated list on the website.Archive. An archive of the events and activitiesof Connected Educator Month is being releasedwith this report for those who missed some or allof it or just want to revisit or refer to the contentand experience. The content remains relevant fororganizations and individuals who want to useit for formal or informal professional learning—whether or not they participated during the event.¡¡ An Open House interface enabled organizationsto open up their communities for educatorsto explore and ask managers and membersquestions in real time.Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators7

The Impact of Connected Educator Month“Jon participated in a Twitter chat on his smartphone about global learning whilewalking his dog. Claudia appreciated the mix of ages of students who shared in a‘Student Voices’ event. Gordon liked the stories and answers he heard in two sessionson conveners in communities of practice. Stephanie thought the book club was ‘fantastic.’ AndBarbara found the ‘lack of ego’ among experts refreshing. These people and others like themjoined in and shared what they knew, thought, learned, or liked during ConnectedEducator Month.”—D. Schaffhauser, “Connected Educator Month Brings Teachers,Others Together Online,” T.H.E. Journal (September 26, 2012)The Connected Educators project usedquantitative and qualitative metrics to assessthe impact of Connected Educator Month duringand shortly after the event. This inquiry focusedon three key indicators:¡¡ Participation (Once it was built, would peopleand organizations come?)¡¡ Interactions (Which types of events weremost popular? What were the hot topics?Did participants take ownership of the sociallearning and collaboration opportunities?)Extensive Participation byIndividual Educators“One teacher shared with me that, as an educatorin a specialty area, she felt a sense of connectivityto a greater community and less ‘alone’ as a resultof participating in a Connected Educator Monthsession. I think that a number of educators whowere not connected prior to August learned about agreater professional learning world beyond the wallsof their classrooms.”¡¡ Benefits (Did the event demonstrate anytangible or intangible benefits of online sociallearning for educators and organizations thatcould help move the field forward?)—Pam Moran, superintendent, Albemarle CountyPublic Schools, Charlottesville, VirginiaThe metrics show that Connected Educator Monthsucceeded on all three indicators, as described inthe discussion that follows.Connected Educator Month was a highlydistributed event, which means that participantsaccessed events and activities through theConnected Educators portal and through thewebsites of scores of participating organizations.Quantifying participation required a broadscan of Internet and social networking activitybefore, during, and after the event. The evidence8Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators

suggests that the Connected Educators projectwas successful in inspiring and seeding a viralresponse by participating organizations andindividuals, as well as by the broader educationcommunity. Participants increasingly tookownership of the event, as demonstrated bythe indicators of participation in the sidebar“Connected Educator Month by the Numbers.”Connected Educator Month by 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 inAugust 2012, including 36,000 references in blog posts, according to a Google search conducted at theend of August 2012¡¡ 493,000 exact phrase references to “Connected Educator Month” on sites throughout the Internet twomonths later, showing continued and growing interest in the event well after it endedThe Twitter conversation about the event vividlyillustrates that individual participation was bothhighly distributed and highly connected. Figure 1shows a social network diagram of theconnections among people on Twitter tweetingwhile using Connected Educator Month hashtagsduring the first 10 days of August 2012.Thefigure shows a strongly connected network, witha diverse group of educators playing key roles inthe conversation.Figure 1. Twitter Activity During the First 10 Days of Connected Educator Month: A Social Network DiagramThis visualization reveals several important patterns. First, there are relatively few isolated tweeters. Most have multiple connectionsto others within the network. Second, multiple central users are linking others within and across clusters. Finally, posts are linkedconsistently to many other top hashtags for education.Learning With Connected and Inspired Educators9

In addition, a substantial number of “lessconnected” educators were involved inConnected Educator Month, as indicated in suchactivities as the Connected Educator MonthBook Club, questions posed to the help desk,and other reports (as well as the overall reachof the project in social media). For example,book club participants were asked to rate theirown knowledge and expertise in using onlinecommunities and social networks (a questionasked to allow the presenters to tailor thediscussion to the group). More than half saidthey had, at best, only average or below averageor no knowledge (novice-level) at all.Although there is still much to be done in thisarea, Connected Educator Month did providean impetus to unconnected educators to maketheir first connections to online learning andcollaboration opportunities.Empowering Individual EducatorsEnvisioning the 21st Century ClassroomUsing a scanned photo from the 1960s of her fourth-grade classroom, and a collaborative multimedia platform(ThingLink), technology integration specialist Laurie Toll of Osseo Area Schools in Maple Grove, Minnesota, launchedher own collaborative project. She created an interactive Web-based poster and invited educators to “21stcenturyize” the classroom by adding ideas, links, images, or video to the photo.“The purpose of this project was to invite educators to collaboratively reflect and share their vision for a connectedand engaged learning environment in a whimsical and meaningful way,” Toll said. “I loved the creativity and variety ofresponses and that people actually stopped by to contribute. It was a living, growing, dynamic document built andshared by connected educators everywhere!”This collaborative project would not have had the same impact outside the context of Connected Educator Month,Toll said. “Connected Educator Month played a huge part in getting the message out to other educators. Leveragingthe connections of colleagues involved in Connected Educator Month brought more activity to the project than if Ihad just shared it within my own network.”Shari

Associates, as well as Claudette Rasmussen of AIR . It would be impossible to thank here everyone who contributed to Connected Educator Month itself . Special thanks, however, need to go to members of the core team who produced the event, again under the guidance