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July brought frozen desserts to the nation's attention, with National Ice Cream Month. This month it's back to business: August is Connected Educator Month.
A group of more than 100 education associations, companies and schools have joined together with the U.S. Department of Education's technology office to create more than 260 events that connect educators online.
These events include Twitter chats, collaborative projects and blog discussions on various websites. The Office of Educational Technology plans to archive all this activity for educators to access later.
The Department of Education has spearheaded this national initiative, with the help of the American Institutes for Research, for two major reasons.
Based on research and practical experience, educators who learn together on social networks or "communities of practice" learn faster and more efficiently, said Darren Cambridge, senior consultant of the American Institutes for Research and project manager of the Connected Educators initiative.
But in a 2010 survey of 1,400 classroom teachers by Grunwald Associates, only 26 percent said they had joined an online teacher community.
"We need to do a better job of getting those educators who are not taking advantage of the many opportunities that are out there to do so, and getting those who have dipped their toe in to become more broadly and deeply involved," Cambridge said.
This Connected Educators month is all about getting more people connected online.
Along with connecting more people, initiative organizers are spotlighting online communities and social networks that educators can participate in. Educators sometimes have trouble finding what's available and how to get started with a social network, Cambridge said.
The Connected Educators website pulls these resources together in one place. Each day in August, a toolkit developed by Powerful Learning Practice breaks down the process of learning about different digital tools into bite-sized pieces. That way, it won't seem so challenging to dive in.
"Hopefully that will lead to more sustained engagement with online social learning opportunities, not just in August, but throughout the year," Cambridge said.
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