Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Connecting Within and Beyond

The other day I had a discussion with Colleen Tambuscio, one of my teachers, where she was actively sharing some of the innovative ideas she planned to implement during the upcoming school year.  Colleen is the architect of our globally recognized Holocaust Education Program.  During our conversation, she shared with me her experience with Today’s Meet at a recent professional development program hosted by the Shoah Foundation in California.  In a nutshell, Today’s Meet was used as a live backchannel throughout the program and the entire conversation was archived for reference.  Now I had heard of this tool in the past, but had never used it up to this point.

Colleen was so excited about the potential of this tool at New Milford High School that she asked if I could create a room for our staff to collaborate, ask/answer questions, to provide each other support, as well as share resources, professional development opportunities, ideas, and student work.  I did so right away and in minutes I had created a room that will be open for a year.  It is our hope that Today’s Meet will further build collegiality through connected learning while being a catalyst for innovation, support, and dialogue focused on improving the teaching and learning process.    

This conversation couldn’t have come at a better time.  A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the importance of connected learning.  In that post, George Couros asked me what I was going to do to empower my staff to be more actively involved in meaningful sharing and connecting with educators outside my school.  It is my hope that integrating this simple tool to enhance connections within our own building will expose my staff to the many possibilities and benefits of not just connecting within, but also beyond.  I can assure George that I will be gently pushing for greater connections beyond once my staff becomes more comfortable interacting in a more or less open environment. 

How do you encourage connected learning in your schools?  What strategies have you found successful to empower educators to share and connect with their peers beyond school walls?


  1. As your staff expands its understanding of backchanneling in their own learning, you will certainly see more use of backchanneling in classrooms for student learning!

    We modeled the use uf backchanneling using Today's Meet at our recent Leadership Academy which included school based administrators, teacher-leaders, and central office leaders. Since then several schools have already used it for discussions within their schools. Student usage will follow! @ewilliams65

  2. We are an overseas school so every year we have new faculty coming to our school. We use Moodle to orient them to the country and the school before they arrive. We then set up a Learning Colleagues Stream with monthly readings and discussion board to provide information and resources about our structures that are in place (ie UbD).

    I am also working to get everyone set up with an RSS Reader and I love the idea of Today

  3. I am pleased to see you creating a space for connected learning for your staff where they can feel safe to begin online collaboration. Your understanding of the need to help your staff feel comfortable communicating and collaborating here first before "pushing for greater connections beyond" is commended. Anything new requires a learning curve, though. What time have you devoted to introducing this to your staff?

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