Last week was a big week for your friendly neighborhood DEN team. The Discovery Educator Network crew spent some time in Silver Springs for a week of fun, team building, brainstorming and training (not necessarily in that order).
The location was Discovery’s corporate headquarters, One Discovery Place. It’s about the size of a city block in the heart of Silver Springs. It looks exactly like you’d expect it to. There’s a huge Discovery logo on the side of the building, a fossil skeleton of a T-Rex right by the windows, a wooly mammoth and some sort of electronic gizmo/mouse trap/giant motorized toy in the middle of the lobby. I was told that there’s normally a custom built bike (a gift from the Orange County Choppers crew), but somebody must have taken it out for a ride. When you walk into One Discovery Place, you KNOW where you are.
Many of the people there were meeting the rest of the team for the first time (myself included). You could really feel the team start to gel though. It felt quite a bit like an education conference. Teachers lead a fairly isolate life, even though they are surrounded by people. That’s why conferences are so important; they provide teachers the opportunity to network and connect with others in the same situation as them. How often does a sixth grade social studies teacher get to spend an afternoon surrounded by other people who share the same problems, issues, and of course the same joys and successes. Most of the people in this room are former educators who are now working out of the home and traveling around the state. Having this opportunity to bond and share with people in the same situation was incredibly valuable.
While there were several notable meetings, the one I can’t seem to stop thinking about was what Betsy Whalen had to share regarding what we’ve actually accomplished since the inception of DEN. Incredibly, there are now over 1100 Discovery Educators and we have hosted nearly 2000 events. Think about that. In six months, we’ve done nearly 2000 trainings and workshops for teachers around the country. It’s sort of staggering when you think about it. (And yes, we more than met our goals)
The best part about it? That’s 1100+ educators who are actively using digital media in the classroom, and even better, are willing to share their knowledge with others. Becoming a member is not just a badge of honor, it’s a committment to the educational community.
Betsy shared an astonishing statstic with us. Over 35,000 teachers were touched by the Discovery Educaoutor Network this year. 35,000 educators who have interacted face to face, not online. It’s a pretty powerful statement about the priorities and effectiveness of the network we’re building. Believe me, I want the online community to be a throng of activity where teachers collaborate via the internet but in no way does it substitute for face to face interactions. On the contrary, I hope that the experiences people have online with each other lead to personal experiences, and vice versa.
The week was extremely productive, and truth be told, a lot of fun. It really is more of a family than a team and I think I speak for everyone when I say that the week was truly inspirational. Of course, we’re just barely getting rolling. Just wait until you see what we have planned for ’06!