Want to connect your students this school year? Here are 5 ideas.

Want to connect your students this school year? Here are 5 ideas.

This piece was originally posted in SmartBlog on Education in Ideas that Work, Social Media in Education

Editor's note: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has named August as Connected Educator Month. The U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative seeks to celebrate and encourage educators at all levels to collaborate and participate in online learning resources and communities. This piece was written to support this initiative.

Unlike their parents, today’s students can communicate, collaborate, cooperate, and connect with the world in meaningful ways that were never before possible. It is incumbent upon educators to support students in doing this effectively in order to empower them to do work that will not only lead them to personal success, but is also worthy of the world.

So, how can educators do this? Here are five ways to help your students get connected:

  1. Uncover student interests. Start by supporting young people in discovering, then developing their interests, which may turn into passions. One way to do this is by giving them a student interest inventory.
  2. Connect at the local level. Once a class or school has supported students in identifying interests, share the results so those who care about the same things can connect. Schools using a service like ePals might want to share their interests with students in partner schools to widen the circle with which they are connecting.
  3. Connect via your school’s online platform. Once you have identified student interests in your school, help them set up groups online via places like Edmondo and in person with school-based groups and clubs where students and teachers who share interests can connect, discuss, learn, grow, and create.
  4. Connect via social media. Support students in finding those who share their interests via social media using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. If a group or hashtag doesn’t exist, support and empower students in starting their own.
  5. Comment on blogs and publications. Help students find out who’s writing about what they care about. When they do, support them in joining the conversation by commenting on those topics and even proposing a guest post or article.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Congratulations! Once you’ve supported students in these five ways, you’ve put them on the road to becoming a connected student with a learning network that will assist them in achieving success in areas that are of deep personal interest.