Becoming a Connected Educator

Through modern technology we live in an information rich and connected world, where we have constant and immediate access to information sources, people and their knowledge. Teaching and learning happen in this connected world and should be augmented by this connected information environment.

The connected educator is firstly a connected learner, who brings what she (or he) learns into the classroom (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, p.18):

  • She actively manages and directs her personalised learning journey, reflectively planning formal and informal learning experiences to advance her professional and personal interests.
  • She leverages the affordances of technology to manage the flow of interactions with people and information sources through careful curation.
  • She utilises the personal, social and participatory nature of new media formats and tools) to connect and with learning communities, to learn from and with (Lindsay, 2016, p.11). Lucier views this as a continuum of Seven degrees of connectedness on which a learner progresses as a personal learning network (PLN) is actively cultivated and nurtured. Rheingold and Weeks (2012, p.120) similarly refer to Mayfield’s 11 steps of the Power Law of Participation.
  • She deliberately manages and develops her online presence, identity and footprint.

The connected educator understands that education is about learning – not teaching, and that while learning can be linear and solitary, it is also social and collaborative – especially in the connected world. She models and practices connected, lifelong learning. The connected educator crafts authentic learning experiences by utilising her network to open the walls of her classroom, by sharing relevant learning resources, and by facilitating connection-making (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.61-62). By demonstrating the importance of being a connected learner she encourages her students to develop their own PLNs. She encourages connected learning to happen inside and outside the classroom, through participation and interactions: by facilitating user-generated content, peer-critique, collective aggregation and community formation by her students (Conole, 2010, pp. 50-51.)

She understands that good digital citizenship requires responsible, active participation (Ohler, 2010, p.34). She assists students in developing the literacies and competencies they need for full participation in these new environments.

This educator is developing as a connected learner and hopefully as a connected educator. There are tentative attempts at cooperation, which will hopefully lead to bold collaboration. I have moved beyond lurking and have started to actively engage and contribute, but more importantly: I have become convinced that by participating, I will develop further on the path to being an exemplary connected educator from and with whom my colleagues and students will learn.



Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer New York.

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. International Society of Technology in Education.

Lucier, R. (2012, June 5). Seven degrees of connectedness [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Mayfield, R. (2006, April 27). Power law of participation [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2012, January 13). Why be a connected educator? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Ohler, J. B. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2014). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Tolisano, S. (2012, June 7). Seven degrees of connectedness (The infographic) [Blog post]. Retrieved from


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2 thoughts on “Becoming a Connected Educator

  1. christopher.whitty

    Hi Gretha,

    your thoughts about connected learning are very insightful and articulate. Your comments on connected learning and education being about learning not just teaching is extremely important.

    My understanding of being a connected learner is someone that is engaged with their learning and looks to be a critical thinker. Similar to you, It is someone that wants to continually learn and For me, a connected looks into reasons why/how and analyses concepts rather than just describes aspects.

    An aspect I didn’t have in my understanding is that a connected learner as Nussbaum-Beach & Hall (2012) states, is a co-creator is dedicated to the development of their expertise and values collegiality.


    Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank you or taking the time to read and respond to my blog post.

      By looking at the characteristics of a connected educator – and therefore connected learner – I have also come to the realisation of how important the social aspect of learning is. About ten years ago I completed an online distance learning qualification without having contact with a single other student. How sad. How “poor” and one-dimensional that learning experience was in comparison to what we are experiencing now. I realise that at the time these interactive participatory tools were not as available or easy to use as now, and we were not as constantly connected as we are now, but I would have greatly valued the interaction with fellow students and the emphasis to build relationships and network wider than the immediate and obvious. I am learning so much from the contributions and thoughts of others – clear examples of why facilitating learning environments in which our students are encouraged to become connected learners is so important.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and joining mine.

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