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Who Is The Connected Educator ?

So what does it mean to be a connected educator ? Semantically speaking, the verb "to connect" implies a second party, one with whom the doer of the action of connecting connects. It also implies the existence of an intermediary medium through which this connection takes place. And because we are talking here about a specific category of "connectors" ( in this case educators ) then the parameters of the territory of this connection is clearly demarcated.

In their pursuit for enlarging their knowledge base and growing professionally, educators connect with EVERYBODY. However, there are priorities in this connection and at the acme of the pyramid inheres students, parents, school staff, colleagues at work, fellow teachers and educators from other regions and the rest of the body of the pyramid is populated by categories selected based on each person's individual needs, educational setting and a set of other variables.

How about the medium of this connection? Before the introduction of web 2.0 technologies, the possibilities of connection for educators was strictly limited to those in their local environment and in better cases for those who are lucky enough to afford the costs of travel to attend conferences and PDs, this network of connections can expanded a little bit to  include extra professionals from other geographical locations. With the turn of the century, this 'primitive' version of connection has been radically redefined.  Geographical boundaries dissolved and the entire world has become a small village where information travels at the speed of light. In this virtual space everybody can befriend anybody, anywhere at anytime. Mind-blowing isn't ?

Of particular interest to these transformative changes in the way we connect is the emergence of what Tim Oreilly called the Social Web. The concept of social web has seen the light with the inception of a variety of social networking websites from Foursquare at the beginning of this century to Facebook , Twitter and Google Plus, to mention but few. Their being free, easy to use, and user friendly made them the centre of attraction for netizens all across the globe. Anybody with the rudimentary skills  of how to use a computer  can instantly jump in and open a window into the world giving, thus,  birth to what is called the networked society.

The reverberations of this social revolution have been strongly felt within the educational spheres. Educators from different stripes of society find in them  new promising ways to connect with others in  the other end of the world. What was before strictly limited to " local environment" is now open-ended and restricted only by users choice. Educational affinity spaces, virtual platforms, and communities of practice have mushroomed everywhere online and any teacher from anywhere in the world can join in the conversation and participate in the knowledge building taking place inside these learning hubs. There has never been such abundance of opportunities for teachers professional development as it is now. In this context, being a connected educator in the 21st century means being part of a universal community of teachers ready to help you as well as learn from you. No one is as smart as all of us.

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