By Cyndee Perkins

Ruben Gonzales, Olympic luge contestant and motivational speaker, was a guest on “Inside Computer Explorers” radio show recently. He discussed how technology has impacted Olympic sports training and performance – from using 3D headcams and tweaking race strategy, to using special strength-measuring tools and custom-designing individual workout programs.

 One of my key takeaways was a comment Gonzales credited to his father: Don’t wait to get your sock in a row. If you have something to do, do it now! And because my job involves education, not sports, I leaped to thinking about better teachers and professional development.

 We in education no longer have to centralize our learning around attending conferences; we don’t have to busy ourselves with mundane tasks or delaying tactics (putting socks in a row) while waiting for the next inservice to be held so that we can improve our techniques and strategies.

 Read and write: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest provide online interaction with peers and experts. I don’t think anyone seriously says that social media is a “time suck” any more. I am responsible for what I do with my own time, and if I use it to learn something useful, I am my own mentor.

 See and hear: YouTube, TED/talks, Khan Academy and YouStream all provide learning options – both live and recorded. Pick your area of interest and start a search.

 Interact and learn: Video Skype and video MSN, Google Hangouts allow us face-to-face opportunities to meet and question core experts, although we may be a world apart – literally!

 The key, of course, is not to wait until a peer or a mentor guides us – we need to get started. Gonzales may stretch his body, but we can stretch our minds. NOW is the time to leave our sock drawers in a mess and explore the virtual world!

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