Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Tim Smith
Tim Smith has a split personality. He works for the Collaborative for Teaching and
Learning in Louisville, Kentucky and The Galef Institute in Los Angeles, California.
At the Collaborative, he coordinates technology issues with programs related to
teacher professional development and student learning. Tim also works as a
technology/media coach for The Galef Institute in a middle grades research project
issued by the US Department of Education. Tim is also a doctoral student focusing
on educational technology at Pepperdine University.
Role of Technology in Education
Many educators see technology as the silver bullet for reforming the way students
learn in the classroom. Many districts purchase state of the art computer labs,
classroom workstations and media studios with the hope that student learning will
increase as a result of all of this "stuff". Many researchers are finding that the
"if we build it they will come" implementation of educational technology does not
hold water. In my experience, access to innovative learning tools is part of the
solution but the real improvement in student learning comes from a change in teacher
practice. Technology only serves as a tool in this process. Before technology is
used effectively teachers must believe/practice the following pedagogical
Within a unit of study that is relevant and standards-based, students demonstrate their
learning by exploring what they already know about the subject, they get smarter
through research, they become an expert and they make connections to the standards.
The Galef Institute calls this the "Learning Cycle". There is a place for technology
in each phase of the Learning Cycle. Students can use technology to view art or images
from the World Wide Web to trigger the access of prior knowledge. They may use the
Internet to conduct research by emailing experts in the field, access web sites, and
use TAPPED IN and other Internet applications to get smarter. Students may use
hypermedia (PowerPoint, web site development and/or Hyperstudio) to show that they
have become an expert in the content that they are investigating. Finally, students
can use TAPPED IN to collaborate and make connections and go deeper in their learning.
- Students learn in a safe, supportive environment, standards-based environment.
The classroom environment is learner-centered and inquiry-based.
- Deeper understanding occurs from constructing knowledge, skills and concepts
from prior knowledge and experiences.
- Literacy and the arts are essential elements to learning.
- Classroom operates as a learning community
How I have used TAPPED IN?
I have used TAPPED IN to support current/traditional teacher professional development
workshops, team meetings among colleagues that reside in different parts of the country,
informal connections between educators and friends.
One of TAPPED IN's functions is as a stand-alone tool to facilitate professional growth
among members. Another powerful function is to use TAPPED IN as part of a hybrid model
for professional development. This model extends "traditional" face-to-face workshops
with synchronous and asynchronous communication throughout the change process. The
elements of this model are the following:
- Face to Face
- Real Time Dialog in TAPPED IN
Departments of Education and other organizations throughout the country utilize the
"sit and get" version of professional development. Most of these workshop-based
opportunities are not effective because participants need continuous support to
change their practice in the classroom. TAPPED IN is an excellent tool to help
foster a community of practice that aids educators to maintain the conversations
needed to persist in changing their classroom practices.
- World Wide Web
- TAPPED IN Resources
- Threaded Newsgroups
- Continuous Assessments through online databases
- Other processes