Thoughts from a reflective educator.
I see a lot of people discussing the need to be an online connected educator. The only problem I've noticed is the why is sometimes missing or weakly argued in these discussions. Why connect? Why bother? What can I learn from educators a thousand miles away in a completely different context which is useful for my teaching now?
"We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." Henry Thoreau, Walden, chapter 1, p. 67 (1966)
We often forget how important context and local dialect is when communicating with each other. It is not obvious in our daily face to face communications because we have come to a common agreement on the meanings of words we use.
When I say the words "mathematics education", I have discovered that the words "mathematics" and "education" themselves not only have region-specific meanings, but meanings quite specific to the speaker. If I do not take the time to unpack the meanings of these words, I can end up having a terrific argument with someone because of the lack of understanding on what we have both assumed are common definitions of terms.
I support becoming a connected educator because I know how many opportunities to learn more about education, teaching, and learning I would have missed without the opportunities to learn from those people with whom I am connected. However, I strongly urge those encouraging others to join our ranks as connected educators to warn their colleagues of this pitfall, this potential trap of online communication.
David is a mathematics teacher and a learning specialist for technology at Stratford Hall in Vancouver, BC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, and Bangkok before moving back to Canada. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.