Doug Peterson is the Computers in the Classroom Teacher Consultant for the Greater Essex County District School Board in South Western Ontario. The 80 schools are K-12 and are located in the city of Windsor and the county of Essex. There is even one in the middle of Lake Erie.
Doug maintains the GEC Computers in the Classroom website at http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/ and posts a monthly newsletter on the site to provide inspiration, ideas, and perhaps even a smile for computer using educators. There are lots of goodies online at the GEC site for teachers, including the Webquest Locator.Doug has taught Computer Science, Business Applications, Mathematics, and Accounting at the secondary school level. Now Doug teaches and supports Greater Essex educators as they work with computers, technology, and students. Doug has been a speaker at conferences such as those held by the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning, and the National Educational Computing Conference.
So, how do you stay on top of things? The answer is by constantly reading and researching. The best way to learn about the technology is to use the technology and so I subscribe to and read mailing lists voraciously. One of the lists that I read regularly is Edtech and like clockwork, there would be these posts about this Tapped In thing. In the beginning, I figured it just to be some mass advertising of an educational gimmick. Of curiosity or boredom, I visited the original Tapped In and it was OK, but nothing that overly excited me. Then, along came Tapped In 2 and the functionality was definitely intriguing.
Online, I've met some really interesting and colourful types and have had the opportunity to sit in on many ASO sessions. It's always exciting to learn new things and I've never walked away empty-handed. Because I work with K-12 teachers and in all subject areas, there are always things to learn. The frustrating part is finding the time to do the ASO sessions justice. It's even interesting to drop in on a session knowing little about the topic because an open mind is often the only pre-requisite.
It costs big dollars to travel to a conference, book a hotel room, pay the registration fee and then get to sit on the floor at the back of an over-booked conference room. As a discipline of the Webquest process, such was my first experience with a Bernie Dodge session. Thanks to Tapped In, I can now pick my favourite chair, have a hot cup of tea, and drop in on any of the relevant sessions.
Tapped In grows on you, if you let it. I have my office decorated nicely and have met some colleagues there informally for quick chats. It will also get a good workout with the online Professional Development course that I'm running when all participants will show up for an online session.
A few of the techniques learned in the early days and with the glory languages like Fortran and COBOL are still somewhat applicable, but to stay on top of things, you need to be constantly learning. I find that Tapped In is one of the helpful tools in my arsenal.