Tapped In Newsletter: March 2009

...On the Tapis
March 2009
Issue 136

In This Issue

[2] News Nuggets
[3] Tapped In Technology Tip
[4] About ...On the Tapis

Quote of the Month - "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." - Andy Warhol, American artist


Will there be a TI Festival 2009? Is anyone interested in helping to plan, organize, and/or facilitate? Any ideas for a theme? Speak up and let your voice be heard. After all these years (10+) we STILL need to figure out a way to get current members more regularly involved and engaged in the community and in the discussions.

One idea for the theme is to do something along the lines of "defining, sustaining and building community."

This topic or something similar is important because of all the competition for educator time and focus among the many nings, Second Life, and other online sites that bill themselves as communities. I am just seeking clarification of what YOU feel an online community of practice should be and if this definition is relevant to educators. Are educators willing to give time and energy to peers to collaborate in a meaningful way?

Personal trust and integrity should to be valued in a community. TI focuses on personal communication, while providing the ability to adapt and link to the bells and whistles of Web 2.0 as external resources. (i.e. flickr for storing pics, free online resources for posting ppt, etc.) As TI member and discussion leader Kevan Nitzberg notes, "because of the basic structure of Tapped In, it is still possible to be able to fully be engaged with the discussions and the 'virtual field trips' without having to have a faster than dial-up connection. As one of the 20 million rural internet users who cannot afford a wireless satellite hook up (even if I had wireless functionality), that has been a great advantage that I see in what Tapped in affords me. From my perspective, I am extremely satisfied with Tapped In in regards to the access that it affords all of its membership."

Kevan also likes the community feel about Tapped In as well. There is a real sense of belonging here that is not so available in other social networks. Real time chat with specific time frames given to discussion groups is a big part of that.

A suggestion was made by Kevan that there could be a bigger push to have members communicate to the larger education world about the advantages of utilizing Tapped In. Recently, Art Educators of MN. (of which Kevan is a part), have been holding meetings in his office in TI. The experience has been quite successful and has spurred interest in the web site. "I think that more communication of the possibilities that Tapped In can provide to groups should be generated in order to attract a wider audience." This is a great idea, but how can the TI community implement it?

TI member Leo LaBarge, an educator and musician, says, "The idea of community appeals to me. I've been looking at drum circles as a way to develop some community in the classroom. I like the idea of paralleling learning community at TI and learning community in the classroom. After our discussion today, which was both helpful and well [heck], the word is inspiring, [I'd like to add that] we've developed a community. Just being able to talk to [helpdesk volunteers] and get some answers to questions, or pointers to resources, just knowing that others had been in the same boat was immensely helpful to me. I think the role of collaborator might be expanded to include communicator, which would enlarge the field a lot. Every teacher is a communicator. If learning is creation of understanding, then a teacher is a collaborator, or co-creator of understandings. You asked about roles in community. One role in a drum circle, and it's a facilitators role, is to carry the lowest common denominator of the pulse [and to include] the biggest and slowest pulse. Here's the bottom line. It could be interpreted as the core curriculum. The higher faster harmonics are the differentiated lessons."

TI member and discussion leader Shayne Train suggests the topics of exploring "big ideas" and social networking in education.

One more feature that seems to attract users is voice chat. If an online environment has both voice and text chat, is it possible to follow both and comprehend both synchronously?

Lots to think about! And, to some extent, we're reinventing the wheel. The Tapped In design team had many of these elements in mind when the TI environment was created back in 1997: actively engaging educators, sustaining professional development, providing resources and discussions for a wide variety of disciplines across the curriculum, keep the technology intuitive and basic so that all educators can participate. (Look at some of the TI papers.) Now the TI environment is MEMBER DRIVEN and it's up to US to take the opportunity we've been so generously given and make it not just survive, but thrive and nurture the community throughout the many upcoming changes educators are facing.

Your thoughts and ideas are important, so share! If you have not already done so, join the TI Festival group and post your ideas to the discussion board. I'm looking forward to your responses, as valued members of the Tapped In community, to build on what is here and to look critically at what might need to be improved.

Please send comments, questions and ideas to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org or post to the TI Festival discussion board.

[2] News Nuggets

TI member Nelba Quintana from Argentina posted this message, "Thanks to all I have been learning with Webheads and in Becoming a Webhead Electronic Village Online (BaW EVO) sessions, I have been appointed as computing lab manager till July at the School of Languages of the National University of La Plata. I hope these lines will encourage new BaWers to keep on exploring the net in this group. It is very rewarding."
TI member Kellie-Bea Cooper, a resident of California, has created an Educate Parents on Schools group and invites you to join the group and post to the discussion board in the group room. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to take this discussion nationwide!

Kellie-Bea's first post to the discussion board is "What types of schooling are available?" Many parents feel they are obligated to send their kids to the one public school that they are assigned to via their address/zip code. There are pricey private schools, but are there other options available to them?
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.

[3] Tapped In Technology Tip

2003 Flashback! Getting an office
This tech tip was posted in the March 2003 Tapis right after the new (current) TI2 interface was put online. Log in to TAPPED IN with your membership name and password and click on the ME tab at the top of your screen. You will see a link to get a new office. It's easy and fun! Check out the designs and color schemes you can use by clicking on "edit room".

[4] About ...On the Tapis

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