Becoming Social(er): Why Does Community Matter?

Former middle school teacher in Philadelphia, PA turned policy specialist at the PA Dept. of Ed. and now VP of Learning Communities and Instructional Implementation at Discovery Education. In short, teacher, husband of a teacher, DENthusiast, and co-founder of the Purple Feet Foundation. Meet Lance Rougeux as he engages in a conversation about benefits and challenges of developing learning communities for ourselves and within our classrooms. Discussion openers:

What are the benefits and challenges associated with “social” in the context of both teaching and learning? How do we find our niche within a professional learning community? How does our own participation as active or passive community members model behavior and influence our expectations of our students?

Lance opens with a special thank you to Steve Hargadon, co-organizer and a tribute and thank you to the DEN members and managers who are on board today. In 2005 Discovery launched the DEN and it has grown globally through the many events that are sponsored throughout the year via Leadership Councils. Streamathons w/12 hour back2backwebinars, national geocaching days, virtual conferences, state conferences–the list is endless.

Go to the DEN Blogs to keep apprised of events; currently the DEN Leadership Council has open enrollment; click this link to participate. Check the image to the left for several special events coming soon. New this year: the DENny Awards will be streamed live from Discovery Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. Welcome to Classroom 2.0 and introductions complete, Lance began his title session: Becoming Social(er): Why Does Community Matter?

Jumping into the first conversation, Lance intends this conversation as a backdrop for what we continue to do in the classroom and the synergy between the two communities: DEN and Classroom 2.0. We see true benefit today from the social connections we create, but time, preferred learning style, and comfort level in community impact and create value. Community is inspiring, innovative, collaborative, supportive, and replete with resources.

At 7 years old, the DEN has done 50,000 events. 97% of DEN members respond that their participation in the community holistically has contributed to their growth, development, learning, increasing confidence, technology integration. What we’ve learned is that we all engage in our social community for different reasons. Lance noted that the most popular way people seem to gather their information is from Porter Palmer’s Weekly Update posted to the Den Global Blog every Friday. But for whatever our reasons for joining a learning community like the DEN and/or Classroom 2.0, we all benefit and fill needs by our connections. In a whiteboard interactive, participants entered reasons why they are here today. They included: connecting, new learning, newest trends, sharing best practices, finding your niche, answers from others, support, people open to sharing…you can sense the trend for this authentic experience.

So, Lance poses how do we sell this notion of community to our colleagues, how do we engage them despite their spheres, resistance…how do our join the give and take of community and still maintain a comfort level. The answer: leap in and find your niche.

The benefits and the challenges are what drive people to community for social learning, breaking down the fear barrier. Recognizing the benefits outweigh the risks. Jobs shift because of social networks, social communities, learning communities. Growth industries are growing because of creativity, community, and social interaction. Hires today do not sit in cubicles if their are working in a growth industry.

Applying this notion to education, Lance noted that his wife Martha, a 6th grade teacher, uses Edmodo. Lance and several of his colleagues jump into his wife’s 6th grade class’s discussion of The Hunger Games. Social learning. Works. A special thanks to Lance for introducing and kicking off the day with an overview of the benefits of social learning.




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