Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Barb Morris
Barb Morris is a library/media specialist at Iveland Elementary School in Overland, MO. She is also an adjunct professor teaching two Library Science classes at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. Her school librarian job includes being a faculty sponsor for a television crew of fifth grade students who tape events going on at her school and then edit the tapes and create a news show about her school. The program is called ITV (Iveland Television). Over the ten years this program has been in existence, it has grown to include three to six students (with two teachers accompanying them) doing a presentation about ITV at the Midwest Education and Technology Conference each Jan./Feb.
I first became introduced to Tapped In during the spring semester of 2002 through a class I was taking from the Univ. of MO-Columbia. I was working on my second Masters Degree, this one in Educational Technology. My first Masters was from the same university three years earlier in Library Science. My Professor, Jane Howland, had invited the author of our textbook, Judi Harris, to join us in Jane's office in Tapped In for a chat. I was very impressed that the author would meet us, and that we were actually getting to talk to her about our book and class. It should have seemed perfectly logical, however, because the book is "Virtual Architecture: Designing and Directing Curriculum-Based Telecomputing." I set up my own office in TI shortly after that experience. Further on in my coursework, I was working on an action research project whose focus was to determine the benefits to students on the television crew. One of the things I did was invite the crew to join me in my office in Tapped In. We discussed why they liked being on ITV, what their favorite part was and what they had learned from the experience. The kids loved being in my office, and a couple even visited after that and left messages on my whiteboard.
I now teach two Library Science classes at Lindenwood University. One of them is called "Information Technologies for the Library/Media Center". In designing the syllabus for this class, my goal was to expose them to a wide range of technologies, so I thought about an activity in TI. Often people in my class admit to being novices with technology, some fearful and others inexperienced. Each time I get the reflections back I get mixed opinions. Almost always they enjoyed it, but some of them see real applications for it as teachers or librarians, and others think it was fun, but can't see how to use it. We start off by going to my office in Tapped In as a classroom activity. The last two times I've taught it, BJB has offered to conduct a tour of the campus and what is available. This "virtual guest speaker" in our class always amazes the students. After this introduction, the assignment is to then meet me in my office during one of two or three sessions I schedule. We discuss a question about using TI that I have put on the whiteboard. "How would you use Tapped In as a librarian, teacher or student?" That way they are getting the feel of a "virtual office", too. This semester, I asked my students for feedback, knowing I would be writing this perspective. One said without the class or tour, she didn't think most people would use it, even though it is easy to find help. "Once you learn how to use it, it's fantastic!" Another student said it should be added to the newsletter for Cooperating School Districts, a consortium of school districts in our area. Great idea, and I am going to call them and suggest it. I know that this kind of technology is going to grow and become more a part of our lives and the educational process, and even those who saw no way to use it right now, will in the future. These students can say they have had some experience with it.
It is always exciting when I meet someone new in TI. In the past, I have met a teacher in Germany and chatted with her, and a teacher and PhD student from Taipei, Taiwan. Where else could I have the opportunity to meet and talk to other teachers from all over the world?
One of my resolutions for 2006 is to use my office in Tapped In more often, and I already have an idea. The next time I teach Info Tech, I am going to set up a meeting in one of the classrooms and invite my fifth graders to come and meet with my grad students and talk about out TV program and answer questions. I've always wished they could come and be guest speakers, and now they can!