Module 4


Leaders as Connected Learners  

Proverbs 27:17
“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another”

Learning Focus 

● understand how connected learning enhances your own professional learning and leadership capacity for supporting the learning of others
● critically explore and participate in various online learning communities for sharing innovative practices, resources and new technologies that enhance learning 

● know how to leverage various social media and online digital tools to enhance leadership skills for communication and collaboration
● design you own professional learning focus to increase your knowledge of effective technology-enabled practices (e.g. makerspace learning environment, blended learning, etc.)

PQP Curriculum Connections
● Develop strategies to promote ongoing professional learning

The Ontario Catholic Leadership Framework
● Building Relationships and Developing People

ISTE Standards for Educators
●  Leaders as Connected Learners

Setting the Context 

“Connected learning helps educators realize the potential for professional
learning and
the pedagogical shifts afforded by current and emerging
web-based technologies. 
But mostly, connected learning is about
building professional networks to
o help you learn, grow and to
…reflect deeply and prod others to do the same.”
– Sheryl Nussbaum Beach & Lani Ritter Hall, 2014

In her book, The Connected Educator,Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach describes digitally connected learning as a 21st century model for transforming professional learning. In the past, educators were sometimes isolated and unable to attend professional learning activities due to budget constraints or lack of interest. Now, educators can access online learning communities anytime and anywhere to share their stories, professional resources and innovative practices as co-learners and co-constructors of knowledge. Keeping informed of current and new emerging trends in education enables educational leaders to inspire new ideas and practices for transforming learning back in their school communities.

This module provides an opportunity to develop and enhance your leadership skills as a connected learner. The first two learning engagements enable you to explore the value of being a connected learner and to advance your professional learning by connecting to various online learning communities and connected leaders. The other learning engagements includes opportunities to leverage connected learning and various digital tools to advance your own professional growth and leadership skills for communication and collaboration.

Building Capacity for Leaders as Connected Learners 

For PQP Part 1 – Select one or more of the learning engagements outlined below as a starting point for exploring Module 4 – Leaders as Connected Learners

For PQP Part 2 –  Select one or more learning engagements (different from the ones you selected in Part 1) and highlight them in your Leadership Portfolio Assignment.

PQP candidates reflect and share their learning through
Twitter #PQP10 (Part 1), #PQP20 (Part 2). Click on this link to create a twitter account
● Their 
online reflection sheets (the link to your online reflection sheet is available in your TeachOntario folder). 

Learning Engagement # 1

“We take the view truly connected educators connect in a variety of ways,
never losing sight of
the fact that no amount of online connectivity can
replace face to face. Having said that, we
have found that connecting in new
ways (e.g. online learning communities) has made 
us more knowledgeable,
more energized and more efficient as professional educators.”
What Connected Educators Do Differently – T. Witaker, J. Casas and J. Zoul

The authors of the book, “What Connected Educators Do Differently” describe connected learners as “ones who are actively seeking new opportunities and resources to grow professionally.” They believe that connected learning is more about a mindset and passion for learning. Successful leaders embrace online networking to access a large community of diverse ideas and perspectives to enhance their leadership effectiveness for sharing and supporting innovative practices back with their school community.  

Take a moment to view Cheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s video, as she speaks about why connected learning matters for 21st century professional learning. Identify one or more ideas that resonate with you using #PQP10 (Part 1) and # PQP20 (Part 2).

As you read the articles below, what key messages stand out for you about why it important to be a connected learner as a school leader? How does this connect to your own leadership practice in terms of how you can leverage digital tools and/or social media to learn and collaborate with others?

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

● Why do you think connected learning is an important mindset for leadership in a digital age?
● Share some examples of how you use social media or your board’s virtual learning environment to collaborate and support professional learning with other colleagues? What do you see as a next step for extending this leadership practice?

Learning Engagement # 2  

“The smartest person in the room…is the room…
the network  that joins
the people and ideas in the
room and connects to those outside of it.
– David Weinberger

Many leaders are embracing new forms of professional learning and  by becoming connected learners within diverse online learning communities. Alec Couros (2010) points out that these online networks enable educators to “form and negotiate the connections they need to sustain long-term learning for themselves” and for their school communities.

This learning engagement provides an opportunity to further your leadership capacity for connected learning. While you may already follow a number of online learning communities and connected leaders, stretch further to explore other sites that may be valuable for your professional growth as a connected leader.  

The chart below is a guide for selecting a number of online sites to visit. Using  #PQP10 (Part 1) and #PQP20 (Part 2) share a valuable leadership resources or ideas that you discovered during your connected learning experience.  

Consider collaborating with your colleagues in your PQP class to set up a list of favourite online learning communities/connected leaders. Post your list online and create a link for everyone to contribute.

Online Learning Communities

Sample Connected Leaders

Select an online learning community of interest to you or from your school board Select a connected leader of  interest to you and from your own school board
Some other suggested online  learning communities to explore: Some other suggested educational leaders to explore:
#CPCOlead Jennifer Casa-Todd.  Teacher, Author
#ontedleaders Tamara Johnson, Vice-Principal
#cpchat Gianna Helling,  Principal, SAO 
#eduleader Lou Paonessa, Principal, SAO 
#the learning exchange Geoff Edwards, Principal
#Innovation21c Carl Bull,  Principal
@iceontario Vicki Morgado, Teacher 
@edutopia Kim Figliomeni, Principal
@ONeducation George Couros, Innovative Leader
#InnovatorsMindset Donna Fry, Educational Leader. Author

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

● Share your list of the top five online learning communities and connected leaders. Explain how some of these online sites support your professional growth as an educational leader.
How might you use social media tools like Twitter or other digital platforms to create an online space for educators to share their practices and ideas in your Catholic school community. What do you see as a next step for action?

Learning Engagement # 3

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.14.21 PMThis learning engagement provides an another opportunity to explore social media and digital tools of interest to you. What kind of digital tools can further enhance your leadership skills for collaboration and communication? You might want to collaborate with a colleague in your PQP program or school in using one of these digital tool for co-presenting and co-learning together.

  • Video and Digital Tools for Presenting information: Youtube, Screencastify, Powerpoint, Google Slides, Prezi, etc.
  • Collaboration and Networking tools: Docs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Video Conferencing: Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet (Hangouts), etc.
  • Tools for Collecting Information: Google/Microsoft forms, Survey Monkey, etc.
  • Curation Tools: Blogs, websites, Twitter moments, etc.
  • Other digital tools of interest to you 

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

● What do you think are the unique benefits and features of this digital tool for enhancing your leadership skills?
How might you leverage the digital tool you explored to collaborate and co-learn with others? Include an example or artifact of how you utilized this tool successfully.

Learning Engagement # 4

Design your own learning engagement as a connected learner. Reflect on your own professional learning needs and or an area of particular interest to you. What do you see as next steps for further growth. How might you leverage the vast online resources and expertise available to you to support your own professional growth and learning? For example, this could involve:  

  • participating in a professional online webinar, podcast or video conference to collaborate and learn from other educators 
  • exploring more deeply an emerging technology-enabled practice such as makerspace or blended-learning to  learn how it can successfully applied in your own classroom or school setting

Share and Reflect (online reflection sheets)
Identify your focus for professional learning. Why was this of interest to you and how did it engage your learning and enhance your practice as an educational leader?
● How might you might apply this new learning in your school setting or leadership practice.

Sample Reflections from PQP Candidates

Connected learning can enhance collaboration because it allows everyone to have an equal voice at the digital table. On a digital forum, it is not the loudest voices or the voices with the most seniority that get heard. Everyone with information, a suggestion or an opinion gets heard and as often as they feel like contributing. Thus, more ideas can be shared and collaboration can be fostered. Furthermore, connected learning can be a catalyst for change in my school because it puts into action a mindset of being resourceful and finding external resources to address internal issues at the school – and this is a skill our students need going forward so it has to be modeled by the adults in the community. The first professional learning network I have been a part of since my presentation in PQP 1 on PLCs is #LeadUpTeach which is a group aiming to empower teachers through innovation and discussions around innovation. The second professional learning network I browsed for the first time was #CPCO. I found a lot of useful material that supports the learning that we are doing in the PQP in relation to the Catholic Leadership Framework and practical applications.” – K. McTernan, 2017


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