A blog post will follow soon regarding this latest Discovery Experience – DENSI. But as I reflect on DENSI I can’t help but be grateful for the larger experience of The DEN.
Connected Educators has been a hot topic the last few months. Funny thing is connected educators have been around for much longer than that. There were teachers that met collaboratively face to face for years and years. Then the digital age rolled in. Email, forums, Twitter, Facebook, and more helped teachers to connect. There has been discussion about assisting teachers and students to access the web in more cost effective manners. Yes, please. I am blessed. I am connected through the web. Not everyone is so lucky. This should become a universal right for all. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with web capabilities.
Several years ago, I discovered a product called United Streaming. It was brought to our school via channel Thirteen. As the technology person in the building the then assistant principal gave me the school account to explore. I found you could add other teachers for free as long as my colleagues used a code from Thirteen. Yay, once shown many were hooked. What fabulous resources awaited. Then progress down my digital time-line a little and you will fall on the day I shed tears for the death of a web tool. When I could no longer log into United Streaming the withdrawal symptoms came on quickly. Luckily, being connected as I was through Twitter, I found out we could pay to keep the tool. Then our district restructured itself and the value of the product was seen. United Streaming was funded for those that were interested. I tried my tears and signed up quickly. Along the way professional development came to our district on how to better use the tool. Around the same time The Discovery Educator Network was forming. The trainer explained the concept as best as she could and encouraged us to register for free. I did so. I communicated. I learned. I developed. I grew. I connected. I made friends. I attended events. I flourished. I agreed to assist. I took on leadership roles. I attended more events.
I got married. I didn’t attend. I got sad (love my husband immensely but missed my DEN family). I watched everyone else connecting and sharing.
I began attending again. I had a blast. I learned much more. I grew much more. I shared much more than before. I built a personal learning network. It’s that PERSONAL word in there that means so much. People I have “met” virtually and met in the real world have become part of my world. It overlaps now between my digital world and my personal world. I happen to have the pleasure of working with a few DEN stars in my district. I connect with DEN stars around the country (and now internationally). Over the years we have become a family. I know, it sounds like when a TV show cast is interviewed and they say “we really are a family.” With the DEN, this is not said lightly. This is said factually. We support each other. We miss each other. We help each other. We help each other grow. We love. And we love whole heartedly. The DEN is amazing. The DEN is indescribable.
I don’t believe there really is an adequate way to describe to those that are not part of the DEN what it truly is. In 2011 several attempted with this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EzUplUXTAE
My clearest nutshell definition would be –
The Discovery Educator Network is a group of like minded educators who are brought together by the power of Discovery Education to collaborate, learn, and lead together. It brings opportunities to try new technologies to better support the needs of students and teachers in the process of acquiring the necessary skills to succeed.
Notice that I said Nutshell Definition. The DEN is so much more. It is camaraderie. It is inclusive. It is the most outstanding network to be a member of. We are proud to stand up and say, “I am a part of the DEN.” This happens by choice after amazing experiences. Recently I heard about a certain technology company that gave lots of devices to educators. How nice. Then you find out perhaps the technology given was a cast off. Things that make you go hmmm. With Discovery Education it isn’t about the tangible gifts (although yes, I love my Discovery Educator Network baseball cap), it is about much more intrinsic notions. It is the sense of value that each of us are given. We are each rewarded with love and connection.
There was a contest to earn a “Got Den?” T-shirt. The important part is not the t-shirt it was the fun for those earning them. There is much joy in looking back at the pictures. Discovery Education does not just hand us devices. It hands us thoughts and ideas and skills to make our teaching better.
To all those that are part of my PLN and DENLN thank you. To those at the Discovery Education Team that we love so much. Porter, Lance, Hall, Steve, Kyle, Matt, Patti, and the whole team – thank you for providing us with the DEN and our digital family.