Have you ever mentally kicked yourself in the butt for missing an exciting opportunity because you never knew about it? Missed that $49 Southwest ticket to Hawaii because your best friend who usually tells you about great deals didn’t text you this time? Don’t you hate that feeling?
Sometimes you miss an event because of extenuating circumstances, sometimes you miss because what normally happens didn’t happen, and sometimes you miss out because you weren’t tuned into the possible opportunity. Most of the time we miss events on accident.
We don’t purposely try to miss something of importance.
More recently, you may have felt that same kind of feeling because you may have not have access to particular media. When everyone else is watching Star Trek Discovery or Game of Thrones, you are not a subscriber to CBS All Access or HBO.
Missed opportunity because you weren’t connected.
Now, how would you feel if the same were happening to your child because your child’s teacher refused to get connected? Refused you say?
In my experience, I have come across teachers that have said to me that they refuse to have internet at their homes because they “don’t want to be bothered with all that “internet.”
I once had an elementary teacher tell me that students didn’t need to know “all that stuff” until they got in high school. She used that as a justification to leave her laptop at school, have her son do anything that required after hours internet work, not have wifi at home, and never use the provided tools that the school district purchased.
And she is not alone.
One teacher celebrated her “cutting the internet cord” in a blog entry “Disconnected: How Cutting My Home Internet Access Saved My Teaching Career”
The fact is, there are still many educators that simply refuse to connect to the resources and opportunities that are freely available to students either during or after work hours. Those that refuse to connect are missing a world of opportunities for their students. Those that are connected give their students an advantage that the others are missing, simply because their teachers do not look for learning opportunities.
There is indeed a “digital divide” between those that do, and those that do not.
Take for instance this little video:
In it, Chris Hatfield, perhaps the worlds most famous astronaut, held a world wide “sing along” with students all over the world, live, from the International Space Station. Silly? Perhaps. But students all over the world were able to actually interact with an astronaut, in space. Live. What an excellent experience, and it only happened in classrooms where the teacher was connected enough to know about the event.
Did your kid participate? I bet they would have told you if they did. But chances are, your kid’s teacher wasn’t connected.
How about this? How often does your child have a chance to talk to a famous scientist like Jane Goodall? They can you know. And teachers that are connected have a much better chance of knowing about it than teachers that aren’t. Yeah they can do it here on April 2 or April 9.
Think your kids are doing that? Or participating in any of a million different opportunities that are available to students and teachers on the internet? If their teacher is not connected, actively looking for these opportunities, then they are not exposed to these types of opportunities.
For instance, there are Virtual Field trips held throughout the year in SKYPE:
“From the Earth’s ecosystem to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, our world is connected. When we begin to relate one piece of learning with another and then another, the connections create a more complete picture of our complex world. Students can experience this through integrated curriculum, as well as using technology to literally connect themselves with others in the world. Our brains crave familiarity and connections, so let’s provide that for them. -Ginger Lewman”
If today’s educators, which are supposed to be preparing students for their future, are not connected to the opportunities that are available online for their students, then they are, effectively, committing educational malpractice.
The Texas state standards for education, known as the TEKS, specifically require teachers to be giving their students opportunities to practice the four “C’s” of modern learning: Collaboration, Connectivity, Critical Thinking, and Creativity.
How can a teacher teach students to collaborate for instance, if they do not collaborate? How can a teacher show students proper ways to connect with each other of they are not connected?
Some educators might say “I am connected.” But what being connected means in their mind is often that they personally are connected online to their children in college perhaps, using Facebook or finding lesson on Teachers-Pay-Teachers.
As a professional, teachers need to look beyond the geographic boundaries of their schools, districts or states and connect with other educators across the globe. Connected does not mean going up on Pintrest and looking for an unvetted lesson plan or paying $1 for something a teacher in Enid Oklahoma did with his students.
Connectedness means being able to get online, and seek the answers to questions and having a wide network of colleagues that can help you answer the questions or find that online opportunity. online professional learning communities are more powerful than almost any other educational tools a teacher can use.
If a teacher has no online PLC, they they are depriving themselves, and their students of opportunities that others are experiencing.
Of course not every teacher is going to find every opportunity. But there are places on the internet that aggregate learning opportunities. The Microsoft Educator Community comes to mind immediately. Those are the kind of places teachers that are not connected get started.
Teachers that ignore or shun such opportunities for their students are not doing any favors for their students or the community. And even “successful teachers” that have not become technologically connected, no matter how good, are setting up their students for future failure.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.