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Archive for January, 2010

My big concern in starting to write a Blog was if I could post with consistency and frequency. I feared that I would run out of things to say, or I wouldn’t be able to produce posts quickly enough to hold an audience. I have discovered that Twitter, and all that becomes associated with it, keeps that from happening. I often recollect the only memorable line from Godfather III. ”Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” , Thanks Al Pacino.

I had such a moment this week as I observed a live-streamed meeting in a land far away.  I added to the backchannel stream with Twitter as I watched the action (I felt very techie).  Backchanneling is tweeting comments about the meeting as it is in progress. Often the Twitterstream is projected on a screen in the room for all to see. The topic was Tech in ed . I was stopped in my tracks by one committee member, identified as a Professor, who asked a question about the research supporting the use of Tech in Education. Honestly, I don’t even remember the exact words, because to me the exact words did not really matter. I was already too busy screen-screaming at my computer.

This is not 1975. Technology is here. Technology is a tool to retrieve and transmit information. Information is what we need for learning. We retrieve information. We analyze information. We interpret information. We restructure information. We exchange information with others. We respond to information from others. We create with information. We even create original information.(notice small direct sentences and easy, understandable vocabulary)

With all of that clearly and simply stated, an educator should be asking a different question. What does the research tell me about the best tool to use with my lesson? Research should help determine the best way to use technology in relation to information needed. We may find that, for a specific lesson, the pencil technology serves us best. For other lessons word processing technology is needed. As educators we should know the difference and how we want to use the tools.I am keeping the examples simple for the purpose of common experiences. Some web 2.0 applications have no meaning to some educators, so they would not serve as good examples. That is telling in itself.

It is my opinion that a question from any educator in 2010 about research in technology and learning is only code for something else. To me it says” I am happy with what I am doing and you can’t make me do it any differently, because science is not on your side!” That is my view, so do not run to the comment box, since that is my perception which makes it my reality. It does not have to be yours.

Unfortunately, over my long career I have seen research cause trends which are the rage for a while, but then fade away. It has conditioned educators not to pay so much attention to whatever is happening now, because next year it may be gone. Educators should now be aware however, that technology is not such an educational fad. It no longer needs justification with research. It is here to stay and it is moving forward. It is the educational system that is becoming stagnant.

I believe in research in Education. Research in learning and how we learn is valuable. The tools that we use are also important, but they are not the end all in learning. Think of technology as informational delivery systems. Information In! Information Out! If one tool is better than another for a teacher to accomplish the goal, then select the best tool.

If all Educators believed in research as well, especially those who ask about tech and learning research, we might be looking at a different education system. Bloom’s Taxonomy would direct us to creative learning instead of lecturing facts. So, educators, be careful of what you wish, for it may yet require you to change. There is so much research that is ignored by educators in their day-to-day teaching , that it seems somewhat hypocritical to call upon research to fend off the use of technology.

The next time you are in a meeting which is discussing Technology and Education, be wary of those who ask if research supports the use of technology in Education. That person may be asking a question, but stating something completely different. That was my take-away from that educational meeting in a land far away that I attended and participated in and learned. That would not have been done without the tools of technology. Come to think of it the tools of technology have you here with me now. Does the research matter to you?

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Do Not Look at the Video Until You Complete Reading This Post!

If truth be told, and I always do, I was once the type of teacher that I teach my students not to be. When I need examples of things that one should not to do in a classroom, I need not go far for an example. That being said, I must add, that I was not the same teacher at the end of my career that I was at the beginning. Luckily, I was better at the end than I was at the beginning. Through reflection and instruction and a great many years of experience, I developed, I learned, and I changed. I was happier with myself as a teacher in the latter half of my 34 year, K-12 history.

I did not start out as a teacher. I never took an Education course until I secured a position as a teacher. My Education training came on the graduate level. I was never a student teacher, because it was waived. Since I felt so fortunate to have a teaching job, I  was willing and eager to learn. With that eagerness I turned to the veteran faculty members for help in developing methods for teaching. In the 70’s they were all old school. That is probably where the term “old school” came from. My mentors taught me to teach as they were taught, for that is what they knew. It worked for them and it will work for all the students in the future. That is what I was told.

My lesson plans were more historical fiction than plans. I needed to turn something in each week and I was always a week behind. This of course was another time. My tests were designed for speed of grading. I controlled my classes including students and course content. Fortunately, we learn from our mistakes. What we do with what we learn, however, is what ultimately counts. At least that is my hope.

For whatever reason, people hold Politicians steadfastly responsible for whatever first statement they ever made on any given topic. They are not permitted to waiver from their original stand. It seems to be applied even more steadfastly to issues of controversy. Politicians are not allowed to reflect. They are not allowed to consider new information. They cannot rely on new research that might have an effect on their original position. Once a politician states a position he/she lives with it forever.

Teachers are not held to this standard. They do reflect. New information makes a big difference in what they teach. Research affects what they do and how they do it. If all that is true, there is only one factor that stops this from creating change. That would be the teacher’s unwillingness to reflect, consider, and implement change on a personal level. Teachers too often see no need to do so. Changing this factor may take us a long way in changing the system.

Professional Development often does not address attitudes and the need to do things differently. It presents new tools with bells and whistles that may not be complicated, but are often presented in a complicated way. In addition, these tools often have no relevance to what teachers are teaching. That is the way many teachers perceive it. Tech tools are not presented in the context of a lesson specific to the teacher. As always, I will again say this is a generalization and it does not happen everywhere. Since you are still reading this post there must be a reason. It may have to do with all of those other teachers that you may know who fall into this category.

All teachers should be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, even though some may need to be reminded of it. If we buy into Bloom, as we should, we accept the fact that the least effective way kids learn is through memorization of facts. The most effective way kids learn is creative thinking. That being established, let us examine the focus of most teaching. What is the focus of most lessons of most teachers? ( you may feel more comfortable with the word many instead of most). If the teacher’s Focus is on Facts, we have a problem.

I know most teachers believe that they are teaching students to be creative. That being the case let us consider the summative assessments, Unit Exams. Are they multiple choice questions? Do the questions ask for fact recall? Are the answers on Scantron sheets or bubble sheets? I am not diminishing the need to know and recall facts. They are necessary. I am questioning the focus of teaching. Memorization of facts may be useful and has its place. The focus of the lesson however should focus on creative learning in order to access the highest level of learning. Authentic assessment might be a better way to look at success in creative learning

Taking this back to Professional Development, if we agree to focus on creative learning, we will need students to use creative tools to research, access, analyze, collaborate and communicate in a creative way. The PD need only teach awareness of tech to the teacher. The teacher will soon ask more detailed questions as the needs arise. Students may become the impetus for learning technology for the teacher. As the students take ownership of their learning, they should use the tech to accomplish their goals. If the teacher is driving the bus there is no need to be able to do an engine tune-up. Students will use tech more and more as the teacher guides them through their tasks. Learning will go both ways. As a teacher I often found myself learning from my students. I still do.

Some may see this as an oversimplification of a complicated problem. If that is so, then refocusing how we teach, and the focus that we use in lessons every day should be a simple solution. Teachers must  Reflect, consider and Change. They are not politicians and have the ability to change and grow.

My belief is that we need to change the culture in order to change an Education System. It is a system that often fails the teachers as well as the students.  This change can start with us. We are the change.  After that we can select something else to tackle. There are enough problems to choose from.

Now, You May View The Video!

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We had two friends over our house last evening, who have been involved with Educational Technology since the Eighties. We reminisced about our involvement in early Ed tech and we collectively made a reflective observation. The rate of progress of technology seems to be moving faster than its acceptance by many educators. Today’s arguments for using technology in education as a tool for teaching are the same arguments we were making twenty-five years ago. Although, the percentage of those educators effectively using it has significantly increased, there are many who still will not engage it in any way.

The question arises why have so many not progressed beyond where educators were with technology 25 years ago. The technology has certainly progressed. Before the nay-Sayers jump up and run to the comment box, I am not saying that we cannot teach without Tech. I am saying that, as educators, we are slow in using it as a tool for education. Of course, if you are reading this post you are probably not one of the many educators who are resistant to technology use, but consider how many of your colleagues do not have the willingness or wherewithal to read this. That is why I find the comment that “we need to take baby steps” a hot button. After 25 years there are no more baby steps. We should have grown up, and we should be running. Someone may need to honestly reflect on the entire situation.

A memorable Movie with memorable scenes was The Wizard of OZ. One of the most memorable scenes was when Dorothy returned to Oz and again encountered the Wizard in all of his ire and wrath. Thanks to Toto the curtain obscuring the man controlling the Wizard was pulled back and revealed a man doing everything he could to keep it all working. Bellowing from the loudspeaker was the command,”PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!”

With that cinematic image fresh on our brains let us now talk about Informational Technology Directors. Hoping not to conjure reminiscences of some racist clichés of the sixties, I would say that some of my best friends are IT Directors. The job that these people do is not easy. They are responsible for all technology that runs the school system as well as delivering information for curriculum. That in itself may be more than any one person should be responsible for.  One reason for this might be the rapid rate that technology has developed. The tech developed at a greater rate than a full understanding of the position of Tech Director. The more that tech evolved the more responsibilities these people obtained. This might be a problem.

Many IT Directors have a comprehensive understanding of technology. Many Superintendents and Principals, the leaders of education in many districts, have far less of a tech understanding. They rely on the ability of the IT Director, as they should. This places a great deal of unspoken power in the hands of the IT Director. Major purchases in technology for a district fall to the recommendation of the IT Director. Who better to make such decisions, since the IT Director knows Technology. The problem in my view centers with the knowledge that the IT Director has of the curriculum for which the technology will be used. Without an equal understanding of education, any decision could result in expensive purchases being underutilized or even going unused. This might be a problem.

Teachers should be comfortable with IT Directors. Ideally, a teacher should be able to go to an IT Director with a lesson and its objective. The IT Director with knowledge of education, as well as knowledge of tech, should be able to suggest ways to use technology as a tool to accomplish the goal. He/she might also point out if it is not possible to effectively use Tech in certain instances . The IT director should be consulting with teachers about their successes and failures to plan further integration or determining what went wrong. These meetings should be taking place with many people in all schools of a district. If this engagement is not taking place, this might be a problem.

Much, but not all, of the Professional Development should be organized by the IT director. A knowledge of Technology and curriculum as well as the staff’s understanding of technology is key. The IT Director should constantly be seeking out successes of teachers who are effectively using Tech. These teachers should be encouraged to share. Best practices are often what people need as a model to best understand the tech as a tool and not a focus. If this engagement is not taking place, this might be a problem.

Geek Speak is power. To many, it seems to be a secret language. IT Directors use scary acronyms and weird sounding words that are not familiar to those who speak English. This language may intimidate the most educated person. It certainly impresses Superintendents. IT Directors use this language to explain the intricacies of each piece of technology.  It may be a  cause for some teachers backing away from professional development for Educational Technology.The “ins and outs” of the technical aspects mean little to teachers. We do not have to know how to build a car to drive it. This might be a problem.

Without splitting the responsibility of the job between Administrative tech and Educational tech there may be too much for one person to handle. There is a different skill sets required for the positions. The skills of an office manager are required for one job, while the skills of an educator are required for the other. Without a separation of duties, this might be a problem.

These are all generalizations. I am just stating things that have been said over the last twenty-five years. Technology moves very fast, and change in our education system moves very slowly. We may need to do a formative assessment at this point. Do we have the correct person in a position with the correct skills to do what is necessary to carry out the task? That is the very same question applied to teachers. In many districts the person and the job are matched well. If they are not, this might be a problem

Technology is not the focus of education. Learning should be the focus of education and technology is one of the tools that helps teachers teach. The next time you experience the Wizard in all of his ire and wrath. Forget the words bellowing from the loudspeaker,LET”S PAY ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!” We may need to pull back that curtain and help the man reach a higher level of efficiency and understanding to keep up with the pace of technology. If we don’t this might be a problem.

Please do not print this out and place it in your IT Director’s mailbox with “Look What This Guy Said About You” scribbled at the top. Send this Link to your IT Director. He or she may find a reason to comment. If we do not assess the needs, we may not address the problem and this might be a problem.

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I am beginning to appreciate this blogging thing more with each post I write. What I like best is that these are my ideas and have no effect on anyone except those who choose to accept them. Readers even get to pick and choose which of my ideas they want. I will never know what effect they will have, but I do get to read the comments, and for the most part they are positive. I appreciate the comments that are even more thoughtful than my original post. That being said, I can now post something that some will find upsetting . If you are in that group by the end of the post, come back to this first paragraph and remind yourself of this opening statement. It may have more meaning for you the second time.

Through my entire career in education I have seen plans that were supposed to revolutionize the educational system, the latest attempt being “No Child Left Behind”.  Now with this new administration we are looking at merit pay for teachers. A plan flawed in its conception with a great potential to fail and once again target teachers as the reason for failure. I am putting an IMHO here to quell the stirring beasts who are about to pounce on the reply box.

As a teacher of teachers I always instruct my students to have an objective or a goal for every lesson they teach. Their purpose is to focus their thoughts, direction, and energy to accomplish that goal. Most importantly however, they are to assess their students along the way to make adjustments in order to complete the goal.

If we apply that same principle to our educational system, I would expect a positive result. All we have to do is ask the question, “What is the goal of education?”  You have to see where this is going by now. The problem is who will answer that question: Politician, Parent, Administrator, Teacher, Student, Tax-payer, or that non-educator sitting on the educational advisory panel? The answers will muddy what should be a clear answer.

Here comes the IMHO again. As far as I can tell, the goal of education is to provide workers for the job force. That seems to be the driving force in everyone’s perception of education in America and probably elsewhere. Before you scroll to the reply box, finish the post. I might say something else to set you off. Employment seems to me, to be the Goal of education. Some might say the goal is to get the student to college. Moving a student to Higher Ed, it is just a hand-off to the college to prepare a student for higher paying employment. Colleges are ruled by the same goal.

The problem with all of this is that when the goal of employment is reached the perception of many is that the need for education, and learning has ended. That is true for many individuals no matter what line of work or whatever profession they enter. That most definitely includes ALL of the professionals in education. Once they get their job there is no longer a need to learn. We have even coined a phrase for those who are exceptions. We call them Life-Long Learners. Those are the people who did not buy into the education- culminates-with-employment idea.

If the goal for Education is employment and a student becomes employed, the goal has been attained. There is no need for continued learning. We have succeeded. If however, that is not the outcome we want, maybe we should go back to the beginning. Let us look at the Goal for which we must focus our thoughts, direction, and energy to accomplish. Maybe it needs tweaking, or clarification, or assessing, or a complete change. As an educator I have to throw all that in, even though IMHO the goal sucks and should be scraped.

It may be time to establish a Goal we can all agree upon. Here is my contribution or the point I would like to make with this discussion. My Goal would be to promote Learning and Literacy through education. “We do that”, you say. If we did, why do so many people stop learning and being literate once they get a job?

At one time people needed to spend time reading books and engaging in conversation and debate and collaboration. It was difficult to do when there was no time or place to do this after one graduated. After all, the goal was attained and there was no need. The Internet has changed all that.

If Administrators made their decisions on whether or not something promotes and supports literacy and learning, many decisions for financing, curriculum, and staffing might be different. If principals had that as a goal, School policies, support of teachers, professional development and even interaction with parents might be more purposeful. Teachers, many who will claim this to be their goal, will be more open to accepting new ideas and new tools for preparing kids to learn beyond the classroom. A skill they will need if we meet the goal of learning and literacy.

Employment and supplying a workforce should not be the goal of educators. That is the stuff of politics. Let the need to continually learn and communicate in a literate manner be the Goal of All educators. All decisions should be weighed with this in mind. All assessments should address this goal. We would need no standardized tests with this as a standardized Goal. IMHO.

Now you can return to my first paragraph and then scroll to the Reply box and leave your comment. I hope my humble opinion has given you pause to reflect.

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Did you ever give any thought to doors? Right now you are probably thinking, “Why would I ever give a thought to doors?” Hold that thought for later. We never question doors. They come with every house. There are inside doors and outside doors. We build entrance ways to enhance doors. We adorn them with brass kick plates and fancy handles and elaborate locking systems. We never question their value. We never even have to think about how they work. We do not stand in front of them to contemplate their hinges, or handles. We use them without thought. It becomes almost instinctive. They are everywhere, on closets, on cabinets, on furniture, on cars, even on shower stalls. We accept and use them everywhere and the most thought given is probably the thought traveling through your brain right now.

In order to give this post a little more to write about, I would add a few more household necessities: the refrigerator, stove, television, and telephone. Can you imagine an average American home without these tools or a door to offer protection for them? Yes, there are people who choose not to make these tools part of their life, but that is a rare choice. It does not mean that these people have no understanding of these tools. I would be safe in saying that they represent a very small portion of our population. By this point you should have an inkling of where I am taking you with this.

I am a post WWII child. David Letterman and I are the same age.  In the old days we were the Baby Boomers, or The Boomer generation. Now, as a group we are affectionately referred to as the Old Fart Generation. Even at my age however, there was never a time when I did not have a refrigerator, stove, television, or a telephone. They look very different from the 1940’s, but they still are useful tools for the purpose each serves. We have little choice in their use. They are similar to the door in that we no longer need to think about their use or purpose. It is a given.

We often think that we have choices in life and we do, but not everything is a choice. There are some things that our society, or culture, or government chooses for us. As Educators we once had a choice to use technology as a tool for teaching and learning. It was an expensive tool and there was a big gap between haves and have-nots. It was financially beneficial to schools if teachers chose not to use Tech as a teaching tool. Training, time and money were the obstacles of choice for change.

Now let us consider the objective of our teaching. I always thought I was preparing my students to be able to think and learn in their world, for that is where and when they will live. I am not teaching them to live in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s as I did. God I am getting old. The choice of technology as a teaching tool is no longer mine to make. My choice is how best to use it. Look around! Computers are everywhere. Computers that run our cars are probably more functional than those which were used to send men to the moon. I am not so arrogant to think that I can offer a student all he/she needs to know based on what I know.

For the generations to come technology is going to be like doors. It will be everywhere and people will not even have to consider its use. As educators why would we fight that evolution? Why are we not using that power to promote creative thought? Why do we have educators resistant to something that will continue to grow and improve the way we access, analyze, consume and communicate information?

The dumbest argument I remember from Math teachers in the 60’s about the use of calculators in Math class was;” What would happen if there were no more batteries. They need to know how to work without calculators for that reason.”We believed that back then. We were not stupid, but maybe a little unaware. It was a knee jerk reaction to technology. I guess math teachers had a fear of being replaced by calculators. That was a fear shared by many educators back in the day-being replaced by a computer.

We all look at something the same way, but many of us see it differently. I would like us to get to the point where we only have to think about how to best use technology and not whether we should use it. Yes, I agree, a good teacher can teach without technology and that will always be true. Yes, I agree, Technology does not have to be in every lesson. Yes, I agree, technology is not the answer to everything. Technology, however, is with us to stay and it is evolving. As educators we need to evolve too. These kids need to be educated for their world not ours. In their world Technology may be as ubiquitous as doors are.

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This is the second Post on my Blog, so I am still working what to say and how to say it. I also have to gage how often to do this. My fear is using up all of my ideas in a month. Then what? My intent is not to offend so many people that my message is never delivered. I also don’t want to sound as if I have all of the answers, because I do not. As an educator who travels to many schools in many Districts on Long Island, I am in a unique position to make observations based on real experiences.

My first considered observation is that Parking is terrible for visitors at about 80% of the schools I visit. I have no idea if that observation will amount to big changes in Education, but it is a pet peeve. I get to do that with my own blog.

I have always enjoyed talking with elementary students about their school experience. Little kids LOVE school. It does seem however, that as they get older and are influenced by the more experienced students with whom they have contact, this educational enthusiasm dwindles with each year. The final culmination of this has been fondly referred to as “Senioritis”. Yes, I know there are other factors too, but they do not support where I am going with this.

This same love of school may, for the purpose of this post, be compared to the Pre-service teachers that we put out each year. Pre-service teachers are student teachers. They must spend several hours of actual teaching in order to qualify for certification. Their great enthusiasm for teaching is evident in most students, but only after the first few days of terror at the beginning. Everyday has a light bulb moment when students see and experience so many of those things they have been theorizing for months and now they get it.

If they are fortunate enough to get a job, they carry that new enthusiasm with them. They understand and employ all that they have been taught. They have energy and a passion for teaching. They are like those little kids in elementary school loving it all. They are into Bloom, Rubrics, assessments, authentic learning, technology tools, pedagogy and they do Lesson Plans.

At that point in their careers they are sponges for everything educational. That is when they are helped along by the experiences of others. How many times have we heard something like, “you’re not in a college class anymore. It doesn’t work like that in a real classroom”. That may be an accurate statement. It probably does not work like that in every real classroom, but why not?

I would almost prefer that the experience of the new teacher would take hold on the Veteran teacher. That enthusiasm and understanding and energy for teaching and learning would become the dominant form of experience for teachers. That might move the change in the system that everyone seems to agree is needed.

Now, you are thinking, “He is nuts, my school is not like that.” I believe that too, but if that were true of every school why is our education system in the shape it is in. What happened to that glow that we all had when we started. Yes, there are hundreds of reasons that an existing negative attitude persists in many, but not all educators. The mere fact that you are still reading this post sets you apart from thousands of other educators who would not have any interest in reading anything talking about improving attitudes in education. Your action of reading this post on a computer also sets you apart from many other educators. These are positives.

Our educational leaders really believe that they are addressing this need to change attitudes by providing an inspirational speaker at the beginning of every school year. That works well for feeling good as you leave the auditorium. For me that inspired feeling never lasted more than a day. There was never a real take away. I would suggest that the thousands of dollars spent on inspirational speakers be used to pay teachers to share best practices. Support those things that educational research tells us really works in the classroom. Allow those teachers who have been successful to share their successes. Do not allow soured experiences sour our new teachers. Use their energy to inject a system that sometimes becomes too lethargic.

Best practices are not necessarily based on experience. We need to establish what constitutes a best practice in the classroom and promote that with every member of the staff. We need to showcase what works and what we expect. We do not need merit Pay. We need to use that money to enable successful teachers at any level of experience share their successes. Additionally, as veteran teachers, we should always consider the advice that we share with our younger colleagues. We are models.

I realize that this is all based on generalizations, so you need not remind me of that. There are places where this may not hold true. It would be my hope that all schools would exhibit the positive attitudes needed for success. I also wish that as long as my wishes are being granted, that somebody does something about the damned parking situation so poor at so many schools.

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My First Post on My Own Blog

Does every Blogger give a reason for writing his/her blog on the first post? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do feel a need to put something on the screen to form a Mission Statement or at least offer some type of focus for this path I am about to take. After 34 years as a secondary English teacher and now adding three  more years as an Adjunct Professor of Education there is one thing that I have enough life experience in to talk about. That would be Snow Days. If there is one thing I look forward to as a New York Educator, it is a good snow storm. A good Snow Day enables us to sleep in late while everyone else goes to work. That is one of the benefits unique to the teaching profession. However, this probably will not offer enough topics for consistent delivery to a blog. Seasonal topics have a limited time to retain interest of the reader. Most people  would not have an interest in reading about snow days in July?

That would leave my other education experiences to serve as the stuff  of topics. These experiences are not all those of a polished and perfect professional. My career began when education was less of a science and more of a tradition. New teachers were mentored by veterans, many of whom had less training in the latest educational research. I am also not saying that I always did the right thing. It was just the opposite in many cases I did the wrong thing. It was through reflection and research that I began to change. The uncommon commodity of common sense led the way to that wisdom I would seek. There was no internet, so aside from written material in the library, and what were called in- service courses, the only other source was any good teacher willing to share or collaborate. That was the environment in which I began developing my own face-to-face, real-time Personal Learning Network. The skills I needed were simple; Identify the value of a lesson,acknowledge the value of a person with an ability to collaborate. This continued for years. That is the way it was in the day.

Thank God Al Gore came along for then we had the Internet. I don’t know if he invented it, but they both showed up at around the same time. Coincidence? I think not. The Internet added a new dimension to my PLN. I could now use a search engine to search topics for helpful websites. One search could bring 50,000 sites, so with three searches I could clearly spend four weeks reading websites. The internet may have been cooking, but it wasn’t done yet.

After 34 years of teaching I made the decision to retire. I traveled down other paths after teaching, but none served me as well. On a chance meeting with a helpful Nun on a ferry trip to my Fire Island home, I learned of a position teaching Methods classes in a local College. It was perfect. I jumped at the opportunity and soon found myself in need of a great deal of help.I could only hope the Internet became more user-friendly, because ready or not I was going to need it.

As I started out using my computer to explore the internet for material to use in my Methods classes, I discovered a great deal of material, but there was no person to talk to about it. I had email contacts, but that was a slow procedure to exchange ideas. The other problem was that my contact list was very limited. I guess you might say I had no friends or at least professional colleagues. My ability to use search engines exceeded my greatest expectations. I saw myself as a master of information searches, but it was not enough. I needed to talk to somebody about some of this stuff.

I discovered Linkedin after my wife, Joyce, showed me how she posted her resumé and made a number of professional connections. I recognized this as a way to develop professional contacts and share ideas. I found no help in all the existing educational groups, so I decided to start my own, the Technology-Using Professors group. This led to a discovery of Twitter and Four more educational Groups on Linkedin.

I still needed folks to talk to. I found myself throwing out questions and engaging several twitter members in heated educational discussions on a daily basis.Two people who I met through Twitter volunteered to help with an idea to get folks talking about education and archiving the results.Shelly Terrell, Steve Anderson and I have run that idea as #Edchat ever since. Still needing more people to talk to and a place the deposit these links from all of these sources there was one more addition. a Ning site, The Educator’s PLN.

Now I find that I need another outlet for further expression, and more connections. It was a quest for answers that started me on this journey. It is also what drives me to continue further down this path. I have more questions than answers as do most educators. What I have to offer is a wide range experiences of mistakes and successes in education that people can use or not. I plan to ask more questions than offer answers, but I hope to promote thought and discussion. It is my intention to do this on an as needed schedule. I hope to help frame the discussion for improvement of education with a blend of research, collaboration and a little common sense.

Another choice would have been to Blog my way through Julia Child’s cookbook, but that was already overdone, or using the vernacular, well done.

Thanks

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