Tapped In Newsletter: July 2009

...On the Tapis
July 2009
Issue 140

In This Issue

[1] TI: Learning Hub Professional Development Series
[2] Chat and the Writing Class by Thomas Leverett
[3] News Nuggets
[4] Tips and Comments from the Experts
[5] Tapped In Technology Tip
[6] About ...On the Tapis

Quote of the Month: "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

[1] TI: Learning Hub Professional Development Series

Tapped In is planning an extended Calendar Event series which has been named Tapped In: Learning Hub. The purpose: Using TI as a learning hub to build a professional learning community.

The planning committee has a number of options in mind, one of which is hoping to bring in teachers who will create a classroom in the student campus. They will then work with some experts in the TI community and with TI mentors to learn how they can have their students link podcasts, video, storytelling, etc. to their TI classroom.

The K-12 classrooms will become portfolios for the participating teachers. The ultimate goal that is desired is that no ONE community, site, environment will ever be able to provide ALL of the bells and whistles that can be achieved via Web 2.0! This expo will empower educators to be more flexible and knowledgeable in helping their students to be independent learners who use a variety of formats and resources to communicate ideas and construct learning.

Another option for a Learning Hub participating teacher is linking in with LearniT to engage in LearniT's 21st Century Teacher Program for skills development and accreditation, with or without additional interactions at Tapped In.

The first session will start in late July 2009, with a repeat session the first week in August and conclude in April 2010 with participating teachers showcasing their collaborative outputs: the work they have had their students do and upload or link to their classroom, or other joint resource constructions. Scheduled sessions are expected to be up to two hours long, and spaced appropriately for support over the period July 2009 to January 2010. Collaboration via peer partnerships, mentoring agreements, or small work teams will arrange mutually agreed meeting times and frequency for ongoing collaborative work.

Sharon Bowers from LearniT-TeachiT (formerly NortelLearniT) will be leading most of the LearniT tutorial sessions. Please join the TI group TI: Learning Hub and contribute to this continuing series leading up to the April Expo, either as a mentor or as a presenter.

[2] Chat and the Writing Class by Thomas Leverett

I am from a generation for whom writing was always more formal, more serious, and more permanent than speaking. I taught writing to my ESL international students the same way, trying to impart to them that sense of rewriting, perfecting, editing, and in general going over something that would be there a long time, if not forever, even if it was only on paper, a piece of paper that would remain in a notebook or closet for years. I was not really prepared for the degree or the speed at which informal writing would take over the world of international discourse, all in the last few years; I think almost everyone my age was caught by surprise.

The first time I saw chat, I was amazed at its lightning-quick conversational nature, though I still assumed that, as writing, it would also be there forever. I was also surprised that, in using chat, I could become part of an international community of teachers, the Webheads in Action, who shared ideas and slowly got to know each other through weekly chats. In other words, chat created international communities of people who converse informally through writing as a medium; it's a new trend, one that business has found I'm sure, and it's a direction that communication is going worldwide.

In this age of Twitter and the ubiquitous cell phone, used more often for texting than calling, I don't think this can be emphasized enough. When I registered at a hotel a few months ago, it opened a chat window on me immediately after I had given them my credit card numbers, and, though it was just a promotional gimmick, I soon realized that people in this world are going to have to manage these chat writing environments, if only to tell people like this to go away. In the same way the phone was always very difficult for my international students, chat also is not easy, if only because immediate response is required at all times, and silence can be interpreted wrongly. They were familiar with chat in their own languages, on their own phones or in some combination of phone-letters and symbols, and their native languages. But they had limited experience with semi-formal English chat and in fact very little sense of what to do in a chat environment; for example, how to jump into a conversation, how to excuse themselves to leave the computer for a moment, or how to say they were leaving. They told me so. The routine things like being polite were the hardest.

I used Tapped In to set up a chat environment for the writing class. As a class, they were already used to putting their work online. And we did a fair amount of informal writing as well as essay writing, because I've always believed, as Peter Elbow used to advocate, that students need to do all kinds of writing, formal and informal, personal and public. I told them that, besides bringing me a typed, double-spaced essay on clean paper, I wanted them to put essays online, and then bring me the URL of the spot where they'd put it; bring me the URL, and drop it in the chat window. This was an assignment; in order to complete it, of course, they had to log onto Tapped In somehow, and master the copying and pasting of URL's into its chat windows. In the meantime, we'd practice with routine politeness. Say hello and goodbye; answer questions; tell us what you're doing.

There are many chat venues in the virtual world, some more formal than others, but Tapped In was always good for our purposes, because it was made for educational purposes, and the people in the reception area were invariably nice and understanding to my students, many of whom got lost or couldn't go easily from one room to another. It was good place to get oriented to the world of chat, and offered the added benefit of providing me a transcript, which could show me what students did, how they managed, and whether they actually succeeded in doing their assignments.

It was a tall order for the students, but it was somewhat like the situation they were in when they had studied English from a book for ten years, and still were expected to function in conversations where sentences were coming at them orally, faster than they could manage. It was a challenge; it was difficult; it was clearly too difficult for some. Some had had almost no experience online at all, and, upon seeing chat for the first time, got that dropped-jaw look, the look you get when an innovation shows you that the world will never be the same again.

I knew that look, because I'd had it myself, so often in the past, and particularly when I'd seen chat myself, the first time. It's a new world, and we might as well set about getting oriented to it.

[3] News Nuggets

Terry Smith presented a paper on project based learning at the National College of Ireland's Edtech 2009. "As part of the questions afterward about communication, I mentioned Tapped In among Skype, Wiziq, and Elluminate and several people from Ireland were quite interested in TI. Might be getting some new members from Dublin!"
Negotiating across differences: Some time ago, TI member Parth Savla had the privilege of being a board member for an International Cultural Youth Organization where the board was tasked to create a 3-day convention for about 700 youth and young adults ranging from 14 yrs - 29 yrs old. As the team reflected about the content of the various kinds of sessions that would be put together for the high school, college, and post-college participants, they wanted to not only empower the attendees with knowledge, but also provide a powerful call to action. Relevance was at the heart of the context(s) the board wanted to create for the various session tracks. Parth's accountability was working primarily on programming for the high school students. Parth wanted to explore the theme of culture being "a social construct". Throughout the evolution of any culture, social values, norms, and laws started as a conversation, a conversation which gathered enough agreement to become a theory, and eventually a norm or implicit law.

The multi-layered activity was created with one intention: to help participants learn more about themselves when put in a situation where they had to negotiate across differences; for them to uncover the boundaries of their comfort zones and to reflect and share their new insights within the group after the exercise. For more information about this project, contact Parth Savla through TI.
Do you have a News Nugget about yourself or another member of the Tapped In Community? Send your News Nugget to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org.

[4] Tips and Comments from the Experts

BjB: good morning, Christen
ChristenO: Hi
BjB: anything I can help you with, Christen?
ChristenO: Just testing tapped in again :)
BjB smiles. Does it pass?
ChristenO: yes, very much. I was having issues using another system and wanted to remind myself of this place, to see if it was as easy as I remembered
ChristenO: it is...so that is wonderful. :)
BjB smiles happily! Glad to hear that, Christen
One of the featured discussion folders in Tapped In Reception poses the question, "If CEUs for TI were offered, would you be interested?" This is a topic that has been bounced around for several years in Tapped In. If you would be able to submit transcripts and some kind of evaluation/reflection/application document to your school district to earn Continuing Education Units, would that be something of interest?

MarieW: "Yes! This would work for all teachers needing as part of their ongoing professional development using this great resource and pre-service teachers as well."

SuzanMV: "I believe this would be a great way to obtain CEU credit. Since I am at a middle school we get 90 minutes for prep and planning. Teachers can get together either in their grade levels as a whole or in the PLC's ad work on CEU credit in a collaborative way and knock them out. Everything is documented for the teachers, administration, district and the state. It is a win win situation...".

TeriT: "Absolutely, that would be great and I could share this with the other teachers who need pd time/sbceus/documentation."

ParthS: "Absolutely, I would definitely be interested in CEU credits were offered on this platform. It would not only provide an opportunity to engage in dialogue and collaboration with people from all over the world in specific topics, but also further accreditation. Win Win!"
If you have a comment or experience to share with the Tapped In community, please submit the information to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org or post how you use TI.

[5] Tapped In Technology Tip

Discussion Boards
Discussion boards are asynchronous ways in which special interest groups can communicate. They are similar to email groups in that a post to a room discussion board is emailed to each member of the group or subscriber to that discussion board. Every room in TI has a discussion board. This includes the public conference rooms, group rooms, private offices and Tapped In Reception. When a TI member joins a special interest group, that member is automatically subscribed to the discussion board in that group room. Only members of a group are able to post to that group's discussion board. Any TI member can subscribe to the public room discussion boards and the discussion board in Reception (where you can post to the CEU question described in Tips and Comments above). If you are interested in participating in TI: Learning Hub, then please join that group and take a look at the discussion board in the group room!

[6] About ...On the Tapis

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