How Do You Stay Connected With Your EdTech Community?
NOTE: This post serves a duel purpose: rehashing some work with the #ISTEBoard and prepping for work to be done with Connected Educator Month, which starts on 1st October. #CE15
I am a week and a half removed our last ISTE Board meeting. Actually, I am a little more than a week removed from returning from the board meeting. My flight(s) to Asia take a bit of time to return. In that time, I have been reflecting about our work as a Board.
You see, we use a governance model called Carver Policy governance that defines the role of the board and its oversight through a series of policies that must be followed by the organization. In my few years serving on this board, I have found this model to be excellent. It clearly sets limitations on our single employee (the CEO) while allowing him/her the freedom to grow and expand the organization towards our Ends. Our Ends can be seen as the vision and mission of the organization. The board’s role in this process to monitor and tune our policies to ensure the organization is healthy, it is fulfilling its Ends in a strategic fashion, and our employee is performing towards the best interests of the organization. I can say that I have learned a lot about good governance and continue to learn as I transition into chair.
This past session we held a long conversation about linkage. In the Carver Model, linkage is the board’s responsibility for connecting to the membership (or community) it represents. In the case of ISTE, it is our responsibility to engage our breadth of members, PLNs, corporate members, and affiliates in such a way that we hear their voice in governance matters and that they hear us in our stewardship of the organization. To be honest, it is one of the most challenging elements of the job.
How do you stay connected with 25,000+ people? How do ensure the voices of teachers, librarians, administrators, mobile users, international educators, coaches, gamers, makers, those committed to digital equity, independent school folks, and the million other groups are heard in the board room? How to stay visible and communicative as a board member, showing everyone that we are just as passionate about EdTech and ISTE as all of them? These are things we discuss and we strategize. It is a central part of our work.
And this gets me to thinking about how we do it as practitioners and I wonder about overlap. I work in an international school with 1400 students, 150 teachers, and nearly 500 staff members. Similar to my board work, my job at its core is to communicate with our community about the great things we are doing in EdTech. I do that through face-to-face communications, parent coffees, twitter hashtags, regular newsletters, faculty meetings, distributed leadership, and, mostly, listening. There is something to be said for that.
Yet, I feel its insufficient. There are few people in our community that really have a good understanding about the breadth of work our team does to enhance teaching and learning. This is something I struggle with as an EdTech leader at the site level.
Interestingly, I seem to do better staying connected with the broader EdTech community as I find myself able to better share my work. I have more conversations with people I only know by avatar than I thought I would ever have. And as the EdTech community speaks a common language of resource enhanced teaching and learning, the conversations are authentic and productive. I find I am able to both give and take in a meaningful way. I find it really funny turning up to a conference and being stopped by someone who has seen my work online or with whom I have exchanged messages. We take one look at each other in the flesh, spend a moment readjusting how we thought we’d look in the flesh, then jump right into a conversation as if we’d known each other as neighbors.
I believe the best way to stay connected is to communicate using media and style that is contextually valuable. For EdTech people around the world, Twitter seems to be at the forefront. It allows for quick snippets of knowledge that pass us on the next great thing, while allowing us to produce content and promote those we value. We also hold a number of online, asynchronous outlets that fuel our work from blogs to podcasts to webinars to Scoop.it type curation engines. We also understand and celebrate affinity more than most which is evidenced by our conferences, unconferences, summits, and informal get-togethers. When I can engage broadly across those media, I feel I have the best connection to our community, or Tribe as a colleague calls it, and my understanding of the field of grows consistently.
How do you do it?
How do you stay engaged with the EdTech community? What about your school or district community?
Do you have suggestions for connecting to the ISTE community?
I’d love to learn and I appreciate any and all suggestions.
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