Connected Educator Month has been going strong in the U.S. for two years already, but as this third year unfolds, we’ve finally gone global! #CE14 is now not only the U.S. but we’re joined by educators in Norway, Australia and New Zealand! I had the honor of being in Rotorua, New Zealand for #ULEARN14, their big EdTech conference, at the beginning of Connected Educator Month (being referred to here and on Twitter as #CENZ14).
The first thing I noticed when arriving at ULEARN is the incredible warmth and friendliness of CORE Education—the organization who hosts this event. From meeting me at the airport to assigning me a “minder"—someone whose job it is to make sure I’m settled, comfortable and have everything I need—this has truly been a different conference experience. Everyone here is ready with a smile and “Kia Ora” (local Māori greeting that has made its way into daily New Zealand vernacular).
Moreover, the focus and empowerment around Connected Educator Month here is huge. The CORE booth in the trades hall at ULEARN is even dubbed the “Connected Educator Lounge"—complete with a live Twitter stream and tons of places to connect and recharge (literally - they had handy power outlets everywhere). This is where I had the pleasure of meeting Karen Melhuish Spencer, the brains behind #CENZ14. She graciously sat down with me to discuss how Connected Educator Month made it to New Zealand, as well as the exciting events they have planned for the month.
Not only are there a ton of book clubs, chats and ULEARN events, but they are even sending a team from CORE out to Antarctica to host a virtual field trip for students around the world! Talk about connected! I was also impressed to learn that they are hosting events in three language: English, Te Reo Māori and Pasifika. You can follow along with all of the learning by checking out the CENZ website here and exploring the CENZ events at ULEARN here.
In additional to meeting the incredible Karen, I also was overjoyed to meet Danielle Myburgh aka @MissDtheTeacher, the founder and host of #edchatNZ. She shared with me that they have actually hosted an in person edchat conference! What a great idea! They created the name badges out of Twitter profile pages (genius) and seeded conversations prior to the conference with their Twitter chat—then of course continued those conversations post conference through the same means. What a great idea—I hope to see more Twitter Chat conferences and events pop up around the U.S. (and world)!
All in all, it has been a real treat to be here on the other side of the world to experience Connected Educator Month from a different perspective. I was able to connect in person with so many people and foster virtual connections between Kiwi educators and my colleagues back home. I can’t wait to return to apply all of the ideas I’ve gleaned and continue these relationships through social media.
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