The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age Perfect Paperback – Nov 1 2011
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“Sheryl and Lani are great examples of action researchers. As you read this book, keep in mind their commitment and passion as doers. They speak from experience and are experts at scaffolding learning. As you consider new ways of supporting teachers or becoming a connected educator, this will be your go-to resource.” —Dean Shareski, Learning Consultant, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada “There is tremendous power in educators being better digitally connected, but most don’t know how to get there. This amazing book gives teachers and administrators the why and the how so that they can ramp up quickly and effectively.” —Scott McLeod, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Studies; Founding Director, UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), University of Kentucky, Lexington
About the Author
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is a veteran twenty-year educator. She has been a teacher, technology coach, principal, district administrator, university instructor, and digital learning consultant. Currently, she is completing her dissertation for her doctorate in educational planning, policy, and leadership at the College of William and Mary. She is the owner and founder of 21st Century Collaborative, LLC, a digital learning consulting business through which she regularly delivers keynotes and workshops, along with supporting nonprofits in their grant work. Through Powerful Learning Practice, which she cofounded with Will Richardson, she works with districts from across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Australia to re-envision their learning cultures and communities. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics of 21st century reform, teacher and educational leadership, community building, and educational issues impacting marginalized populations such as the homeless. Lani Ritter Hall has more than thirty-five years of diverse teaching experiences in urban, suburban, and independent schools at the middle and secondary level in the United States and Canada. She and her students began collaborating globally in the 1980s using a curriculum she designed and developed. Lani, a National Board Certified Teacher, has created and facilitated professional development around technology infusion into learning for more than twenty years and has presented at local, state, and national conferences. She has expanded her global collaborations through her leadership role in the initial years of K12Online, the first educator-led, free, totally online conference; her participation in the first massive open online course that explored connectivism and connective knowledge; and through her current roles of community leader and co-director of connected coaches in online communities of practice for Powerful Learning Practice.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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They then describe a new model of professional learning for teachers and other education leaders -- the Connected Learning Community. What's that? It's the now familiar PLC (professional learning community), pumped up for the Digital Age. CLC's have three key components: the face-to-face PLC; the personal learning network with its many social media connections, and participation in global communities of practice, which penetrate the surface level of inquiry usually associated with PLNs and dig deep into effective learning practices.
The authors also advocate for a PBL approach to instruction, and within that acronym they include project-, problem- and passion-based learning. These inquiry learning strategies are all designed to shift the locus of control over the learning process in the direction of the student. The authors are totally comfortable with core curriculum standards, checking for understanding through classroom assessments, and generally make the argument that engaged learning driven by student interests is compatible with challenging learning goals and "school reform."
We often hear about teachers becoming "the guide on the side," a phrase that makes traditionalists very nervous. But Nussbaum-Beach and Ritter Hall actually describe what that looks like -- and end up defining an expanded and transformed role for the professional teacher in the 21st century.
The ideas and insights share in The Connected Educator grow out of the authors' work with more than 7000 educators in the US, Canada and abroad through the company Powerful Learning Practice, co-founded by Nussbaum-Beach and edutech author and blogger Will Richardson. They report spending thousands of hours working and leading in virtual professional learning communities with teachers, principals and other educators to improve teaching practice and student learning. I doubt there's another education author with a book on the market today that can claim this level of experience with Connected Learning Communities.
Who's the book for? Teachers who are feeling the need, and perhaps the urge, to make the shift to more connected learning that emphasizes 21st century skills. Principals who are looking for ideas to help faculties shift to higher levels of practice. Professional development leaders who believe they can accelerate their work by embedding virtual components that tap into the potential of digital tools and connected communities.
It's also an interactive book... the authors invite readers to begin trying out ideas and tools, and to join a community of readers online in discussions that go beyond what the book is able to provide in 200 pages. There are also downloadable resources galore.
Scott McLeod, an authority on professional learning in the Digital Age, says it well in his endorsement of the book: "There is tremendous power in educators being better digitally connected, but most don't know how to get there. This amazing book gives teachers and administrators the why and the how so that they can ramp up quickly and effectively."
My favorite chapters...the ones that really expanded my thinking....tackling the idea of how to build knowledge with others, then how to create a community around doing that and how to sustain the momentum once you start. "Learning to Learn" is something I thought I was pretty good at...and I still think I'm OK. But this chapter helped me consider new dimensions that I could add to my toolbox.
Overall this book gives tons of ideas on how to improve the way you digitally connect with other people. Sure it can help you get started...but it can also help if you've started this journey and need help considering how to take to a whole other level.
The strength of this book lies in its organization. Each chapter begins with the authors' personal stories, continues to provide clear, well-defined information and helpful models, and then highlights educators who are "Putting It in Practice" in the classroom. The chapters wrap up with a bulleted "Where Are We?" summary, a "Think About" section to help the reader apply learning to their unique situation, and a "Where to Now?" section that looks ahead to the next topic.
In addition, the authors push readers to begin connecting right away, by providing instruction and areas where they can connect with each other to discuss the book. Practical tools are used to connect readers. As the reader begins to create connections and use tools, Sheryl and Lani help them to construct a connected learning community by providing lists of educators to follow through Twitter and RSS readers. They explain the roles within the community, and identify the qualities of leadership within these communities. Finally, the authors look to the future, exploring the changing roles of teachers and administrators as education transforms.
After spending a year immersed in the Powerful Learning Practice program, co-founded by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, I can attest to the value and necessity in becoming a connected educator. This book belongs on the shelf of every teacher and principal as a practical, hands-on reference for learning and leading in the digital age.
In their recently published book, The Connected Educator: Leading and Learning in a Digital Age, authors and educators Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall provide a road map to guide teachers to connectivity in the ever-changing world. Nussbaum-Beach and Hall use their years of practical experience and unique understanding of our changing times to give teachers powerful ways to break through the isolation of a solitary classroom to use powerful resources: one another through powerful technological tools.
The authors recognize that teachers are at different places with their own teaching, learning, and comfort with technology. To meet teachers where they are during their own individual journies, each chapter is systematic in its approach and provides three common sections:
-Where Are We?
-Where to Now?
To engage the reader, the chapters also present the authors' personal stories and "Think About" boxes. This approach enables the reader to learn and grow through a conversation yet professional style with the authors. This book truly provides professional development that is interactive and engaging. It gives the teachers the tools to travel down their best avenue for PD.
As we begin 2012 and want to learn and grow as educators and learners, The Connected Educator, is a necessary "How to Guide" and a must have for our personal and professional libraries, Kindles or iPads. Be a connected educator!
So ends The Connected Learner: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall. Here is a book that explores the ways that teachers need to be connecting with other teachers outside of the physical confines of their buildings or school districts, and joining the movement to use online tools for professional development, professional inquiry and action projects. (Note of disclosure: the writers sent me a free copy to review but laid out no expectations of a positive review.)
While many trade books are emerging about ways to engage our students as learners on the global stage with technology as a tool for engagement, Nussbaum-Beach and Hall train their sights on the people who can really make a difference in the classroom: the teachers themselves. And, as they rightly note, as more teachers start using technology for constructing valuable learning spaces for themselves, they will then understand the power and potential of those concepts for their students. We need teachers to become models for our young people, and to make that engagement in the information world more transparent.
This book is a good choice for educators and administrators thinking of ways that technology and digital media can transform professional development in the 21st Century.