10 years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to join Discovery Education and help in creating one of the most active, vibrant, caring educator communities in the world. Today, that community inspires me and my colleagues at Discovery Education to collaborate, innovate, and most importantly, stay focused on our mission of supporting students and teachers in their learning.
Honestly, when Steve and Porter asked me to write a blog post to commemorate the DEN’s tenth anniversary, I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I sought inspiration by looking up words commonly associated with the DEN in the dictionary. I visited www.merriam-webster.com and began typing. First, I looked up the word “Discovery,” and found:
noun dis·cov·ery \dis-‘ke-v(e-)re\
: the act of finding or learning something for the first time : the act of discovering something
A fitting definition to be sure, but to be honest, pretty much what I expected.
Next, I looked up the word “Educator.” Nothing surprising in the definitions I found there, either. I was about to give up on this exercise, but decided to give it one more try. So, I looked up the word “Network.” Once I got beyond the very technologically focused definitions of the word, I was struck by this definition:
noun net·work \’net-,werk\
But, in the years since its formation, the DEN has exceeded the dictionary definition of a network. We are not just, “A group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other.” Rather, the DEN is a group of passionate educators collaborating and sharing knowledge in an effort to leverage the new technologies around us to improve teaching and learning for all students.
DEN members’ passion does not just hold the organization together. It is a catalyst for action as well. It inspires members to wake up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday to participate in the Streamathon. It drives them to give up a portion of a summer vacation to participate in the DEN Summer Institute. It motivates one DEN member to respond to a request for help in solving a complicated technical issue from another DEN member they have never met in person. It is this passion that’s inspiring educators to go the extra mile to accelerate student achievement.
In addition to igniting the tremendous individual efforts to encourage and engage students, the DEN is a critical part of the ongoing digital transition underway in school systems across the country. A healthy, ongoing dialogue is a critical component to any change movement, and for 10 years, the members of the DEN, through countless tweets, blogs, and face-to-face meetings, have helped one another, as well as critical stakeholders, see new ways to support each student and make sense of the many changes our education system is undergoing.
Since the DEN’s inception, many things have changed. Our numbers have grown and the online networking tools that were once so cutting edge have become commonplace. And does anyone remember the T1 line? Yet from my perspective, one of the best changes or improvements has been the DEN’s evolution from a network to a community.
We educators are living in an era of unprecedented change, and I believe in the coming years, the social, political, demographic, and economic forces driving this change will only accelerate. I am optimistic that these changes will improve education, and further empower us all to create the dynamic digital learning environments today’s students demand and deserve. My optimism stems from one simple fact: I am surrounded and supported by you, my fellow DEN members.
Happy Anniversary, DEN, and here’s to many more!
Senior Vice President, Discovery Education