Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Phil Benz

Phil Benz (PhilB) is an English teacher in France. He currently leads the Euro Language Teacher sessions that meet each week at TAPPED IN.

Phil's Perspective

I first discovered TAPPED IN a year ago last August, after studying a lot of material on Bernie Dodge's WebQuest page and reading the transcripts of several of his monthly sessions. Right away I knew that TAPPED IN was going to be an important resource in my personal quest for professional development.

I live pretty far off the beaten path in educational training and research circles - a small village in South central France. Being able to work online with other educators through TAPPED IN was a real godsend for me. The first scheduled sessions I attended, the Social Studies Forum with Michael Hutchison, really opened my eyes. Here was a group of like-minded educators, all chatting about a single topic, exchanging ideas and resources, and actually viewing web sites together using the "project" command - perhaps the single most useful feature in TAPPED IN. This was a forum for exchange and collaboration with possibilities far outstripping traditional chat tools and e-mail discussion groups. I was hooked.

Soon I had designed my own virtual office and set up a series of scheduled online sessions in a time slot more friendly to European educators. The 25 some sessions I have moderated this year, often with guest presenters, have allowed many colleagues to take advantage of this unique community of practice. I could not begin to list all the helpful contacts I have made over the last year, both with other classroom teachers and with people working in educational organizations like PBS, the Library of Congress, Kiko and so many others.

The people who have helped me so much, like BJ, Kari, and Judi of the HelpDesk team, have inspired me to go the extra mile helping other people get acquainted with the TAPPED IN community and other EdTech tools. It is this sort of personal investment and continuing interest in helping others that transform the abstract concept of a "community of practice" into the warm, dynamic powerhouse of learning that is TAPPED IN. My only hope is that, as more and more online educational services vie for people's attention, TAPPED IN can continue to be the one place where people all across the educational spectrum can meet and exchange ideas, regardless of proprietary site licences, payment schemes, and other shortsighted commercial interests.

If you are new to TAPPED IN, or have never really seen its possibilities as I have, please, jump right in, attend a few sessions, and you too will be convinced. See you soon!