Thursday, January 10, 2008

When Quality Counts, n2teaching sez: Be TappedIn

What is my professional and personal perspective of TappedIn? How did I discover Tapped In, the most enduring of all the high quality educational social networks?

I have always thought of myself as a gleaner who shares with my family, friends and community. That is why I enjoy working with teachers and students. I gather curriculum, materials and other necessaries to share with my friends and students. TappedIn is the quality place for me to join my gleaning and sharing activities for one purpose. I can glean and share ideas, techniques, research and experiences with other members of the TappedIn community in my office, private chat and in meetings around the TappedIn campus.

Having taught, at various levels of education, for many decades, my professional and personal identity continues to evolve…adapt or die. I find this online iteration of my professional life is very satisfying, and I want to thank the TappedIn community for their help in this ongoing process.

Frequently, I invite others that I know to join TappedIn also, and I really enjoy that quality experience. It is like being Johnny Appleseed to those online who are interested in education, children and camaraderie.

Call it synchronicity, serendipity or a discrepant event. I am always amazed at how wonderful it was that I found the TappedIn community. I discovered TappedIn, during the winter of 2004, while looking for information about researchers and educators working in the area of projects. This was before the NEW buzz phrase, project based learning and then problem based learning, became ubiquitous.

I was looking for research by Art Costa and information about his work. I knew some of his work had been published by Skylight, so I included Skylight in my search string. I couldn’t find them (they no longer exist in their previous form). I did find references to SRI, so I followed those links, and they led me to TappedIn. As Professor Peabody always told Sherman in The Fractured Fairy Tales, “…and the rest is history”.

After joining TappedIn on January 18, 2005, I started my life in this quality educational community by looking around the campus….checking out my new home. It was pretty overwhelming, but exciting. I continued to look around to, to be a sightseer. Since those heady early days, I learned that a more commonly used term is “lurking”, but that word has such a negative image. I like to think that my TappedIn visits were more like excursions around the virtual city. In some ways, I was a tourist.

On my first excursions to TappedIn, I would examine the map of the campus and the monthly calendar. From the calendar, I found information about the various groups and their activities. I also really liked the emails that I was receiving. The scheduling and information provided gave me confidence to go to TappedIn to follow up on the topic of the email or newsletter. As time went on, I finally made a critical mass of experiences, so I no longer felt that I wanted to be an onlooker.

As those travelers before me, I discovered the TappedIn Reception Room. At first, I didn’t even know what I wanted to know, but BJ Berquist asked me some questions, including, “Had I been to my office?”

Well, I didn’t even know I had an office, but I thought having an office was a great idea. Then I learned the most important stuff, how to meet and greet other people. I love the info icon.

Over the years, I have developed my office, although it still is not up to par. It is open, and I invite you to visit anytime. Also, I have enjoyed developing good working relationships with many other education professionals and lovers of learning at TappedIn.

Between Jeff Cooper, David Weksler and BJ, I really made great learning gains over the past year. Jeff knows so much about the ways of the internet, and his instruction is always on point. While David knows lots about technology, I really appreciate his support knowledge of how to best use technology to teach science and math. BJ always seems to know how to ask the right question, and she is always full of confidence in the human capacity. I have come to know people who live in other countries and other circumstances, and that has been most inspiring.

For teachers, parents, students and other interested people, I believe that TappedIn is the best first choice for a quality community experience. This past spring, I joined the HelpDesk. It seems that there are always visitors, and sometimes I can help. The TI Festival was another fantastic community experience, and I learned so much that I am still sorting through all the information.

My next adventure with TappedIn is to start a professional development group, and I am working on that as we speak.

Having grown up on college campuses across the United States, especially in the South and Great Plains, I really relate my TappedIn experience to those early years. Lots of fun, lots of learning, and lots of inspirational work goes on here at the TappedIn community. People of many different levels of experience and education come together in good company to be together.

The most important reason is personally professional. I appreciate the quality of TappedIn. One of the major needs of educators relates to knowledge overload and the friendship factor. Technology has changed so much since I was young. Our class schedules were given to us on a punch card and the first computer language I really liked was Basic. There are so many more books and materials available for teachers and students, but we still need each other.

No matter where we are in this journey of life, it always seems best when we have great traveling companions. That is what I have found in the online educational community of TappedIn.

1 comment:

kolson29 said...

Just wanted to let you know that I joined TappedIn because of this post! Haven't had time to do much with it yet, but look forward to playing around. Thanks for the mention.