Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The New Teacher 2.0 Network, a Sweet Contest, and a Free Workshop

Today I'm making the official announcement of the Teacher 2.0 community (http://www.teacher20.com). Those of you who are aware of my other networks will know that I have a commitment to making spaces where conversations about education can take place (a full list of those projects is at http://www.web20labs.com). With so many places to go on the Web, and a great diversity of Ning communities for educators (which I hope I can take some small amount of credit for), I had to make sure I felt this project could add something uniquely valuable to those that would take the time to participate there.

Teacher 2.0 is a community for educators to talk with each other about their personal and professional growth. While Classroom 2.0 (http://www.classroom20.com) has been extremely successful and now has over 56,000 members, the focus of Classroom 2.0 is really around the use of social technologies and the Web in the classroom, and would not necessarily be the right place to talk about reigniting career interests and passions. It seems to me that a more focused community could help provide value for talking about how the Internet, Web 2.0, and social media are providing personal and professional opportunities--and that I can bring in guest speakers for webinars on these topics.
  • How do you identify your career interests and opportunities? 
  • What can you do to re-engage your passions in your work? 
  • How do you use the Web to build and participate in personal learning networks? 
  • How do you start building your own personal or professional presence on the Web, and what kind of work opportunities come from doing so? 
  • How do you build--and start sharing--your professional talents in webinars, at workshops, or at conferences?
As I've given workshops on "Teacher 2.0" the last few months at conferences in California, South Dakota, and Australia, it has been really fun to watch the energy levels and excitement of the participants as they talk about the things they love to do in life, and then brainstorm with each other how to bring those interests and passions into their professional practice or career. In Rapid City, at the TIE (http://www.tie.net) conference, things got particularly electric as we heard from a teacher who is an expert in sharks, then another who specializes in the geology of the Black Hills, from one who decorates memory boxes for hospitals to give the parents of deceased children, to one who gave birth to her own grandchildren because of her daughter's medical condition. There are many aspects to what you do as teachers, but it is sad--and maybe not uncommon--to feel as one teacher in Australia related to me with some emotion:  she'd gotten so busy and bogged down in her work that she couldn't even remember what her passions at one time were.

Teacher 2.0, I hope, will become a place for these and other important conversations, at a time when teachers especially need emotional and intellectual support for what they do. It can also be a place to support teaching as a profession and to share professional opportunities. But most of all, I think it can be a place where teachers can help build a community together during a time of potentially dramatic change in how education is both being viewed and carried out. The dramatic changes in thinking about teaching and learning that are being precipitated by the Web are also bringing dramatic reform movements and dialogs that often portray the teacher as the problem and not the problem-solver. My modest hope is that Teacher 2.0 becomes a place of empowerment for teachers and the profession.

So, three quick possible actions for you.

1. Join Teacher 2.0 and help build the community into something that's useful to you. It won't be your only destination on the Web, but I'd like it to be one that makes a difference and also helps to identify those other places which help teachers and that we can point to and support.

2. If you join the network, you'll notice that there is an "Ideas" box on the front page to which you can contribute, vote, or add your comments. From today until the end of the day Friday, June 17th, anyone who adds an idea or comments on one will be automatically entered into random drawing to win a free, brand-new, all-in-one Lenovo M90z ThinkCentre. The M90z is an amazing 23" all-in-one touchscreen desktop computer, and detailed specs can be found here. (This contest is open to everyone in the world, with the exception of those countries that the US has sanctions against, which include North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar). This is part of a great promotion that I was supposed to have held two months ago, but which came at a really bad time for me! The full disclosure is that I was sent one of these ThinkCentre's myself as part of the invitation to hold this contest, and it would not be an over-statement to say that this has clearly become the most sought-after computer to use in our home. I'll. announce the winner on my blog at http://www.stevehargadon.com, and will contact the winner directly.

3. If you live in the Sacramento, California area, or can or want to be in that area on Friday, June 17th, I'm going to hold the first-ever Teacher 2.0 workshop. We'll meet from 9am - 3pm, and details (limited at this point!) are here: http://teacher20.com/events/teacher-20-workshop. I'll be taking my conference workshop outline and building a day of activities we can do to mirror the goals of the network in a hands-on setting: identifying career interests and personal passions, using the Web as a personal learning network, building your online presence, using the Web as a personal career platform, starting and curating Web projects, hosting workshops, speaking/interviewing, and anything else you can help me think of! This will be fun but is definitely experimental and I'll be looking for lots of feedback on what you will want in this kind of a workshop.  Because there is a cost for the venue, I'll gladly accept a voluntary $20 donation from anyone who attends to help me cover the cost!

Hopefully, Teacher 2.0 will find a place of value for you. Thanks for your attention, and see you online!