Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Bill Bewley
Bill Bewley is an adjunct instructor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. He teaches the "Integrating Computers in the Curriculum" course at CLU and occasionally teaches as an adjunct at USC. His full time job is at UCLA, where he's an assistant director in the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST). He manages research projects on assessment and instructional tools for distance learning. Many years before, he worked in the computer technology program at the Northwest Regional Educational Lab in Portland, at MECC when it was the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, on the PLATO CAI system at Control Data, on online help and training at Xerox, and on administrative software for teachers at ISX.
My first exposure to Tapped In was on a visit to SRI in the late 90s. I was developing a website for teachers and wanted to establish a partnership that would include a connection to TI. SRI wisely decided to partner with another company, but I recognized their wisdom and didn't take it personally, and I've followed the development of Tapped In ever since. When I began teaching the "Integrating Computers" class at CLU in 2003, I was happy to find that Dr. Paul Gathercoal (PaulG), Professor in the School of Education, was also a fan and an avid user of Tapped In, and we got a big boost when Dr. Terry Cannings (TerryC), another TI enthusiast, recently joined CLU as Dean of the School of Education. A CLU Building has been added to the campus, and we're looking forward to doing great things using Tapped In.
I use Tapped In because I'm a strong believer in the benefits of communication and collaboration technologies in teaching and learning. I also believe that teachers are among the most isolated of professionals, with few opportunities to share lessons learned and new ideas with colleagues, a problem TI helps solve. Collaborative work is a big part of the "Integrating Computers" course. Students work in teams to develop a technology plan and to discuss reading assignments, questions posed by the group or me, and issues related to integrating technology in the curriculum. Discussions during the week are conducted online, and most students initially prefer to run the discussions using email because of its familiarity. I introduce TI in the first class and encourage (but don't require) them to use TI chat and the discussion facility instead of email. I also ask them to participate in at least one After School Online session and bring the results back to the class. I'm happy to report that all but one of the groups this semester have been using TI chat and discussions to do their online collaboration, and they've been giving the system excellent reviews. I was a little worried that we were being a nuisance because all this was happening in the main reception area, but as I had hoped, they were meeting more people that way, and new folks were joining in the discussion. I began getting thank you notes for bringing the CLU students to TI. I'd like to take the credit, but it was all their doing. It appears to me that a real community is developing. Students are networking with colleagues from around the world. They're bringing new ideas to the class from teachers they meet during the discussions or in the after school sessions. And this is true even for the teachers who were (and still are) not highly tech savvy. I couldn't be happier about it, and my students agree.