Educator Free/Open Source Course
Last year I participated in an online course based on the book The Connected Educator, written by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (http://www.21stcenturycollaborative.com/the-connected-educator/). She was giving her book away as long as educators participated in discussions and reflections for each chapter. The course was 5 weeks long the goals of the course were:
to become “connected educators and learners”
to learn how to provide professional development
to learn how to use technology to build a PLN
to understand how to build the culture of collaboration in your own school
Presentation of the Material
Each week participants received an email that gave the link to the live webinar (and after the recorded version if you couldn’t participate live), an assignment on the Connected Educator Ning (http://theconnectededucator.ning.com/), and a summary of what the topic was about. Participants were required to watch/participate in the webinar and comment on the Ning about the topic.
At the beginning, I participated in the webinars and posted my reflections on the Ning. After a few weeks, I started missing the webinars and eventually couldn’t keep up. A colleague of mine in Canada started the same course and couldn’t finish it, either. While there was great information and deep discussions, we felt it went too fast and we were left behind.
One of the activities we did used Voicethread to add to the discussion and reflection. Using this type of Marzano’s nonlinguistic tool was a great way to share our thoughts in one place. It was nice to hear everyone’s voices who were in the course.
Often our discussions required us to use Bloom’s theories to analyze, reflect, and apply what we’ve learned to our present teaching lives. There were several forums we could go deeper and give more detail with the topics each week.
Challenges and Benefits
The biggest challenge with this e-course was keeping up with the activities, reflections, forums, and readings each week. I thought the activities were excellent reflections in our teaching direction, but it felt rushed and I quickly got behind. As a benefit, I connected with a few educators to expand my PLN and incorporate some fun, engaging projects for my students to participate. The 4th graders worked on the Crazy Crazes Project in the Fall and Mardi Gras project in the Spring with the students of the educators I met in course. Although the project was a challenge and I didn’t complete the entire course, I learned how important being a connected educator can be for my students and myself.