Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Jan Friesen
Jan is an Instructional Support Specialist for the eMINTS program in Missouri.
She helps a group of teachers in Missouri with integration of technology. Most
of the teachers work in 3rd and 4th grade classes. She has been a member of
TAPPED IN since 1999.
I can't remember when I first stumbled into TAPPED IN. I'm sure it was sometime
when I was working on my Masters in Educational Technology at the University of
Missouri-Columbia. When I first visited it was too much for me. I had heard
of MUVEs and MUDs, but I could not imagine spending the time it would take to
learn to use one. I knew that feeling comfortable with TAPPED IN was important,
so I forced myself to log in now and then and wander around. What helped me
the most as I gradually became comfortable with TAPPED IN was that there was
always a real person at the Reception Desk. The helpful and friendly BJB, the
paint palette, was there almost every time I came. I could immediately get
answers to my questions. Over time I think that interface also improved which
made getting around easier. Directions on how to do many of the things I wanted
to do were available with the click of the mouse.
It probably took me a year or more to be able to remember my password and to
think about going into TAPPED IN more often. I think what got me going
regularly was the WebQuest sessions with Bernie Dodge. He has visited Missouri
a few times and so it was nice to be able to keep learning with him and others.
These WebQuest sessions were my first experiences of being in a chat room. At
first it was frustrating. The conversation is not linear and it takes time to
learn to follow them. Many students are used to this type of disjointed
communication and it does not bother them. It is important for educators to
learn to use this well.
Gradually I learned more and attached a picture of an elephant to my identity
(elephants never forget) and set up an office. I also added a cat, a coffee
maker, a couch and a vending machine that dispenses chocolate. Fluffy was
hungry, so I had to learn to feed her. Kari, who was at the reception desk at
the time, even came to my office to help me learn how. The fact that I could
humanize this computer environment amused me and it was not difficult to do.
I would like to customize the look of my office, but decided that the learning
curve and time it would take is not worth it for me. Stop by my office sometime
to say "HI" (1506W). If I am not there you can leave me a note on the Whiteboard!
Years have passed since I stumbled in, but I keep on trying and learning. Now I
always remember my username and password. I am recognizing some of the same
names in the After School Online sessions and thinking about the next step.
I work with elementary school teachers. The goal of our statewide program in
Missouri is to integrate technology in student-centered inquiry-based ways
(http://emints.more.net). The ultimate
goal is to enhance student learning and we are seeing some terrific results.
I also guide a few courses for Connected University. I have begun to share
TAPPED IN with teachers that I am working with and also to use my office
for Office House with Connected University. I am hoping that it will become
a useful virtual meeting place in the near future.