This is really part two of yesterday’s post, and I will now focus on Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network. How fitting that Arne Duncan named October as “Connected Educator Month,” because connecting educators is what I think of when I think Discovery Educator Network (DEN). Since South Carolinians have access to part of the most popular resource offered by Discovery Education, Discovery Streaming, known to educators in SC as StreamlineSC, it is only fitting for us to appreciate the opportunity to connect over these resources and join DEN. No, it’s not the only reason to be a “connected educator” but it is a means, especially for those looking for connections, and worried about online weirdos. DEN is a safe place to seriously look at becoming a connected educator.
My Story: How did I grow into a connected educator?
I attended my first ISTE conference, then known as NECC (National Education Computing Conference) in 2005. It was a surreal experience that introduced me to movers, shakers, and forward-minded thinkers in education. The big new ideas then centered around a concept known then only as Internet 2 (2.0 was not a buzzword yet), and specific popular platforms to experience “Internet 2″ were video conferencing, blogging, and podcasting. I remember attending a session by Joyce Valenza where she modeled connecting to a museum for a virtual research experience. She was so cutting edge and I was flabbergasted. The concept grew into what we now think of as web 2.0, and the term Internet 2 now means something totally different.
It changed me dramatically!
I left this conference in Philadelphia wanting to share the excitement that I had. It was contagious, and I wanted to continue learning from the many experts I’d heard at that conference, and more importantly, share my learning with my friends. Even better, I now had a way to continue learning from my new role models in education via their blogs and/or podcasts. The forward-minded thinkers introduced me to many new voices and had me rethinking everything about the way I taught. I created a rss reader account (then Bloglines), and started aggregating their material via RSS feeds right into my laptop at home. It was a daily fix and I was addicted.
Reading and or listening was enough…initially
At first just reading their material was enough. Eventually I began to correspond via comments with them. Imagine my elation when one of them responded back or mentioned me in a post! Eventually it was not enough to just interact via blogs and podcasts. This is probably when my true “connected-ness” started. I decided to blog and then tweet. My blog, born October 1, 2006 over on the Google Blogger platform, then transitioned to Edublogs, and finally came to rest on my own domain has been a place for me to publicly share my thinking, interact with others, and most importantly extend my learning. It has afforded me plenty of opportunities to interact with my revered movers and shakers. My first blog post, I am happy to report, still resonates my true feelings too.
NECC Atlanta 2007
By the time NECC Atlanta in June 2007 came around, I felt I was “in the club” of bloggers, so joined up with the first ever EdubloggerCon, a free preconference/unconference day set up so that bloggers and those who followed them could come together to create conversations in an unconference-like atmosphere. Here I met face-to-face and more importantly, truly connected with my all-star bloglines rss list: allow me to name drop–Kathy Schrock, Lisa Thumann, Liz Davis, Steve Dembo, Joyce Valenza, Mark Wagner, Jeff Utecht, Chris Lehman, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, Dean Shareski, Will Richardson, David Warlick, Vicki Davis, Julie Lindsey, Jennifer Wagner, Cheryl Oakes, Doug Johnson, and even from my own state, Chris Craft. I know I’m leaving plenty of names out, but I met and agreed or debated over education topics with what I considered to be the greatest thinkers in education. I cultivated a relationship face-to-face with people before who I’d only had virtual conversations with. There were no slides, no projectors, no handouts, just simply an informal circling or grouping of seats to share, discuss, debate, argue, and extend professional learning. I left suddenly realizing what it meant to be a “connected educator.” I cultivated a PLN, and worked to grow it from there. This group became a sounding board of sorts, physically and virtually. I had to pinch myself each time I interacted with them in virtual circles, like Skype, or in webinar programs, like Women of Web 2.0 or Classroom 2.0.
From lurker to virtual friend to full blown PLN Member
As I grew in these online circles, both in friendships and learnings, I began to dabble in other online circles. I began getting invited to work at leading professional development opportunities. Through my interactions with my PLN, I began getting asked to make contributions. I developed a Twitter account so I could network with my PLN in a microblogging atmostphere. My Twitter account was born on April 28, 2007 at the encouragement of Vicki Davis for the sole purpose of trying it out like the rest of my PLN. I discovered the beauty of Twitter at home during the summer of 2007’s Building Learning Communities conference sponsored by Alan November, where I was able to follow along really well with everything going on at the conference, simply by reading blogs, twitter posts, where those in attendance shared video streams and pictures just to name a few things. it was almost like being there.
Discovery Educator Network – another facet of my PLN
Back to DEN. I like to think of it as a GLOBAL group of educators who come together periodically, some more often than others, to learn from each other or learn together about best practice in education. Often times it is centered on educational technology, though not always Discovery Education resources. More often than not it is a virtual group meeting via social networking resources, but there are state level, national, and even international opportunities to come together as a group.
SC DEN Group
There is a South Carolina Group. We generally meet face to face at conferences, but on occasion, the SC Den group will gather in Columbia. At this time our Leadership Council for the SC group is lead by Karen Ogen, a Technology Integration Specialist in Lexington/Richland 5. Typically we have gotten together for SC Edtech and the summer Upstate Technology Conference, but last week, I never heard about a DEN event. This may be because we had a DEN event in Rock Hill in September after the SC EdCamp. Never the less, DEN events happen at the state level and beyond. Below is a screen shot showing a calendar of events. There is also a SC DEN Blog to follow.
Here is a video sharing what it means to be a connected educator.
Here is an infographic that shares the perks and benefits of being in the Discovery Educator Network:
And last, here is a video promoting the joining of DEN. Here real people tell you how much value it brings the professional educator:
Since this became much longer than I had anticipated, I’ll share STAR DEN later. But you can access the DEN network with your login to Discovery Streaming. Just login and drop down the menu under “My DE Services” to find your link to DEN.