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On October 26, 2013 I had the honor of giving the keynote for the 26th Annual New Jersey Association for Educational Technology (NJAET) Conference. The conference theme was Digital Momentum and my message revolved around the evolution of our schools and how connected educators are building digital momentum.  What follows is the third, and final post, in a series about my message based on my notes, my presentation and my beliefs as a connected educator. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

As digital educators we are responsible for assuring that the building of educational momentum addresses student learning and instruction. When it does, our students benefit educationally. But something equally as exciting is developing with the building of digital momentum that relates to our own learning as educators.

It’s autonomous professional development. digital momentum pic

Autonomous professional development is learning based on our interests and for our individual needs as educators. Not the learning established for a large group, or a one size fits all model that has been the established way of providing educators with professional development for decades. Autonomous professional development is learner focused, learner centered. And that learner is YOU and me!

Some of us do it daily. Some of you are doing it now. If you are a connected educator you find the value in it through Twitter, Google Hangouts, blogs and Skype. Daniel Pink’s book Drive talks about what motivates us and he discusses the power of autonomy. Here’s a clip (from around 5 minute mark to the 6:40 mark is the discussion on autonomy)

Think about what Daniel Pink says about autonomy.

How does that idea work for you as an educator?

What would you do with a professional development day in which you had autonomy?

Could you learn, given a choice about what you wanted to learn about, something that would benefit your students or you?

I believe you and every other educator out there could create an amazing learning opportunity given the chance to have an autonomous professional development opportunity. There is no doubt in my mind that connected educators would continue the process of building digital momentum. This has great value in the educational world as these digital resources are growing by the minute. The problem arises in the fact that there are so many resources now available that many educators do not know where to begin.

This is why our colleagues, the textbook and device educators (see the previous two posts that reference these educators), struggle to move into our realm as digital educators. It’s the confusion caused  by the complex world of apps and collaboration. It’s the environment of hashtags, @ symbols and 140 character conversations that don’t make sense to the non-connected educator. It’s the attempt to understand how an educator in New Jersey and an educator in California, and an educator in Australia can collaborate on a project that actually has value for each of them as educators and for each of their students.

How do we do this is not the question. It’s how do you find the resources and the people? How do you engage in using the resources and in collaborating with the people?

We, the connected educators who are building digital momentum, need to de-mystify this digital momentum for our colleagues. It’s not that complex. It’s not that confusing. But just like anything new, there’s hesitation.

Education resisted the use of devices, now we have BYOD and 1 to 1 initiatives. Education has yet to fully embrace the digital momentum but Resistance is futile!

Just as the Global Technology Change ushered in the use of devices in schools, digital momentum is ushering in a change in the way learning occurs and here’s where we can start helping our colleagues:

For organizing a meeting: Use Doodle

For gathering information form students, parents, colleagues or stakeholders use Google Forms

To provide a resource without the long link use: QR Codes

To collaborate use: Google Hangout or Skype

To demonstrate the value of Twitter for those not ready for Twitter use: Today’s Meet

To develop a community of learners who share various resources use: Google Community

To promote, inform, create interest in a fun and creative way use: SMORE

Yet as the connected educators continue to use digital resources, regardless of the device in hand, we need to be careful of our automation because we can become too automated and too reliant on the technology. And as a result we might find ourselves in this situation:


The message I want you to walk away with is that this digital momentum we are creating is real. The work we are doing as connected educators has value. But we have a responsibility to our colleagues who have yet to find the value to model and demonstrate how it will improve teaching and learning.

Our classrooms are without walls, our instruction without time constraint, and our teaching resources span the globe.

Your efforts are building digital momentum.

Your efforts are improving education.

Your efforts will help us to continue the educational evolution.

Be the role models and the example.

Be great educators.

Be digital momentum builders

Be connected educators.

Thank you!