What is ConnectEd?
ConnectEd is a free networking and communication solution designed for educators to inform others about the perspectives and ideas they bring to practice through easy to build Web based electronic profiles, or portfolios. ConnectEd operates independently as a site for those who wish to provide and seek information with the belief that opportunities arise when information is available and communication is possible. A central concept behind ConnectEd is that professionals decide whether the exchange of information made possible here generates interest for further communication to take place and for opportunities to occur.

ConnectEd also advances the field of educational leadership and practice by showcasing talented individuals whose ideas, innovations, accomplishments, and descriptive qualities serve to inform and inspire others.

Who uses ConnectEd?
1. Educators in any setting who wish to communicate and inform in a manner that is easy to use and easily accessible anytime, anywhere.  Their audience might include colleagues, community members, students, or any group to whom communication is intended. 

Educators use a profile like a portfolio.  They share information about themselves with others who are interested in identifying and locating people with helpful attitudes, skills, and experience.

Educators also use profiles, Roundtables, and the Message Center to reveal ideas and efforts that can be shared with members of their own organization or other individuals and groups. 

2. Aspiring leaders and educators in training and pre-service programs or internships who reveal the skills and abilities they would contribute to the field. Like current educators, these individuals convey important insights on the knowledge and dispositions they bring to the profession.

3. Educators interested in locating and networking with professionals on similar or complex issues and initiatives that each faces.

4. Retired educators interested in remaining active by offering insights and expertise to the field. 

How do I build a profile?
Building a profile is easy. The portfolio building tool is intuitively designed and enjoyable to use. 

You must first register and create a login and password. You're then taken to a confirmation page that invites you to begin building your professional profile or conduct searches for people and ideas. A profile is like a professional portfolio. If building a profile, you will be linked to your own Profile Overview space where you can manage the content of your profile including Vision and Leadership, Background and Experience, Photos and Archives, and Profile Preferences. Entering information about yourself is as simple as typing in the desired content and saving your entries to your profile space. Profile Preferences allow you to customize the look and access of your profile to best suit your tastes and needs.

Can I change and update my profile?
Yes. You may update and edit your profile as often as desired or necessary. We realize that building a profile might require a great deal of careful and reflective thought. We also realize that your professional perspectives and circumstances might change, sometimes frequently. You can return to your profile space anytime, anywhere to record the "perfectly" phrased description, upload a new photo or file, or update new information, accomplishments, and ideas. You may also build a partial profile and return later to complete your profile entries. Wherever there's a connection to the Internet is where you can work on your profile.  For these reasons, a lengthy block of time is not necessary for completing a profile

Some users work on profiles over short intervals of time, while others do most of their posting in a single sitting. While most completed profiles contain a foundation of thought, practice, and experience that doesn't change, profiles are intended to be ongoing and evolving throughout the user's career. 

What detail should I include in my profile?
This is a question for you to answer. This question occasionally comes up when users think of prompts and responses in terms of what they believe others would like to see, rather than focusing on their own professional beliefs and perspectives. The prompts and data fields will guide you, but your profile space is your own. Tell your "story" and share information about your practice, knowledge, and views.

Am I required to respond to all profile prompts and information fields?
No. You determine which prompts and entries to respond to. Uploaded profiles will only contain information that you provide and no blank fields will appear in an uploaded profile.

How do I upload photos and files into my profile?
Uploading photos and files into your profile space is easy. Select the first "slot" into which you will insert the name of the photo or file. You'll be asked to select which photo or file you would like to include from a window that pops up on the screen containing names of files that are located on your computer. Five upload "slots" are included with each profile. You may select up to 12 files or photos to upload into your profile space. 

Additional file or photo "slots" are $1.00 each. Payment totals are determined once you've decided on how many "slots" you'll use beyond the 5 that are included. You may change or update photos and files as often as you'd like with no additional charge. Once a "slot" is paid for, it's paid for…once and only once. Payment is completed electronically in a safe and secure manner through PayPal, a leading electronic funds transfer service used by millions of people in the United States.

Am I required to use files and photos in my profile?
No. Photos and files are options for users who would like to add visual enhancements to their profile.

Hyperlinking text in a profile is possible.  Users may link to documents located on remote servers or within their own profile in the Photos and Archives tab. 

How do I search profiles?
Profile searches can be conducted by keyword, leadership area, state, or advanced mode. Searchers must first register and login to be able to search the profile database. Selecting the Search option from the home page menu will direct searchers to the search options page. Profiles will be retrieved based on the information the searcher provides. Searchers can then click on and read the profiles that are returned from their search.

If necessary, searchers may save lists of profiles and return to the list to contact members at a later time. 

Are all profiles searchable?
No. You may elect to maintain a private profile, which will be blocked from searches. You will have the option of managing the exposure to your profile by sending a link to your profile to individuals or organizations who you feel would benefit from viewing it. You may indicate in your profile preferences whether to have your profile searchable and may change this preference by updating your profile preferences whenever you'd like. One advantage of maintaining a private profile is that it cannot be searched until you're ready for it to be searched. Many profiles are not completed in one sitting. Consequently, users frequently return to ConnectEd to work on their profile until it's ready for others to see it.

Other profiles are partially completed, yet remain searchable based on the user's preferences.  These profiles are marked In Progress when search lists are returned.  Users also have the option of having only their name and contact options returned in profiles that are marked available by Request Only.

How can I make a suggestion or ask a question?
Send questions and feedback by clicking on the Contact Us link at the top of the ConnectEd home page. Record your comments in the text box and send them to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

How do I contact a ConnectEd member?
Each profile tab contains a Contact Now link to the person whose profile you're viewing. Simply click on the link and you'll be free to write and send a message. You may also save the person's profile link and make contact later by clicking on the Add to My Contact List link. The profile will automatically be saved for you to access again at a later time.   

What are the benefits and features of ConnectEd?
Educators today are connected in many ways and this connectedness can fuel widespread professional growth and improved practice.

Dispositions define an educator's approach to practice.  ConnectEd promotes communication that reflects dispositions that influence work with students and colleagues.  A commitment to learning, enthusiasm, confidence, courage, credibility, and hard work all help define the approach of a professional educator with whom many others hope to network. 

Experienced educators can organize ideas, artifacts, accomplishments, and insights into a tabbed profile that is easily accessible and maintainable anytime and anywhere. Profiles are used as a means of sharing information about the educator with others in the field who are interested in locating people with the attitudes, skills, and experience that can help them.

Profiles can also reveal annual efforts of an educator's work. Profiles might highlight progress toward goal attainment, professional growth and development, professional practice, and vision and leadership ideas for the future

Aspiring leaders and educators in training programs or internships can showcase the skills and abilities they would contribute to the field.

Educators representing teams and organizations can locate and network with professionals on similar or complex issues and initiatives that each faces.  ConnectEd fosters a diffusion of ideas and information and introduces a dialogue seldom before possible.  Schools and districts experiencing a redistribution of roles can access other sources to help them run effectively and efficiently.

Roundtable discussions foster collaboration and team building among members whose views and skills align with, or complement, other ConnectEd members.

Communication occurs in a timely, efficient, and advanced manner that differentiates this medium from the monotony of paper methods. 

Profiles help merge the technical, conceptual, and interpersonal components of an educator's practice that highlight skills and attitudes that make a difference.

The self-motivation involved in using this service conveys a strong message about an educator.  Be proactive.

Peer-to-peer learning results from the networking opportunities that ConnectEd makes possible through access to information about effective educators, leaders, and aspiring professionals in education. 

ConnectEd provides an organized space for reflection and professional growth to members who use these tools to record thoughts and ideas related to practice.

Information can remain public or private.  Users can choose from a full range of profile access levels as well as other customizable features including profile themes, password protected files, and peer review options.

Widespread, Web-based access means users can communicate as they go.  As a result, lengthy blocks of time are not necessary to build and maintain a profile, access Roundtables, or maintain communication via the Message Center.

Users determine the content included in a profile, Roundtable, and Message Center.  Only response fields that contain information are uploaded, thereby maintaining an appealing blend of customizability and standardization.

Are you a presenter at workshops and conferences?  Extend post-event contact with workshop attendees by setting up Roundtable follow-up correspondence.  This correspondence can be of variable duration and can be organized around the event name and date. 

What are Roundtables?
Roundtables are discussion threads that are customizable by specific topic, size, participation, and duration.  Unlike listservs or email group lists with limitless parameters that often result in a barrage of irrelevant messages, Roundtables are focused discussions led by members seeking and sharing information within a unique cadre of other members with similar interests or challenges.    

What is the Message Center?
The Message Center houses communication tools that are multi-faceted and easy to use and maintain. 

Interactive Weblogs allow members to upload key messages, insights, or lesson enhancers.  Visitors can access and respond to content posted in this area of a member's Message Center.  The member controls all content that appears in the Message Center. 

Announcements can be easily added to the Message Center as a way to succinctly remind visitors of upcoming news, events, and important dates. 

Podcasts, or audio broadcasts, enhanced by a versatile image toggle pane, represent an exciting way to reach an audience in a multi-media format.  Members have the space to upload podcasts and are linked to many useful tools for recording and editing their content.   

How do I change my username and password?
If your e-mail address changes and you wish to change your username, simply overwrite the new address into the e-mail text box located on the Contact Information page.  The same process should be followed when changing your password. 

What is the Student Center?
The Student Center is a secure, Web-based instructional platform that supports teacher and school efforts to extend learning opportunites and build skills for success in the 21st century. 

The Student Center blends the lines that separate the traditional classroom from the technology enhanced classroom and anytime, anywhere learning.  A flexible collection of easy to use tools generates a high degree of student ownership for learning.  No other solution of its kind empowers students and teachers like the Student Center.

What tools exist in the Student Center?
The Student Center houses tools for students and teachers to interact and communicate within a scalable network of members from both within and beyond the classroom. Within each Student Center are weblogs, podcasts, announcements, roundtables and a teacher customized problem solving framework that allow all participants to collaborate, cooperate, and dialogue for student success.

Visit the Student Center About page:  Student Center

Should I be concerned about cyber-bullying or inappropriate conduct?
Unlike popular social networking sites, the Student Center is a closed, secure network of students and classmates; the membership of which is determined by a verified teacher in the ConnectEd database.  The teacher or leader sets up the Student Center by virtue of serving as the regular classroom teacher or distance educator.  Without authentication, outside visitors cannot access any teachers, students, or student Message Centers. 

Parents may visit the site through guest membership set up by a teacher or by working with their student at home or wherever an Internet connection exists.