Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Jan Friesen

Jan is an Instructional Support Specialist for the eMINTS program in Missouri. She helps a group of teachers in Missouri with integration of technology. Most of the teachers work in 3rd and 4th grade classes. She has been a member of TAPPED IN since 1999.

Jan's Perspective

I can't remember when I first stumbled into TAPPED IN. I'm sure it was sometime when I was working on my Masters in Educational Technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. When I first visited it was too much for me. I had heard of MUVEs and MUDs, but I could not imagine spending the time it would take to learn to use one. I knew that feeling comfortable with TAPPED IN was important, so I forced myself to log in now and then and wander around. What helped me the most as I gradually became comfortable with TAPPED IN was that there was always a real person at the Reception Desk. The helpful and friendly BJB, the paint palette, was there almost every time I came. I could immediately get answers to my questions. Over time I think that interface also improved which made getting around easier. Directions on how to do many of the things I wanted to do were available with the click of the mouse.

It probably took me a year or more to be able to remember my password and to think about going into TAPPED IN more often. I think what got me going regularly was the WebQuest sessions with Bernie Dodge. He has visited Missouri a few times and so it was nice to be able to keep learning with him and others. These WebQuest sessions were my first experiences of being in a chat room. At first it was frustrating. The conversation is not linear and it takes time to learn to follow them. Many students are used to this type of disjointed communication and it does not bother them. It is important for educators to learn to use this well.

Gradually I learned more and attached a picture of an elephant to my identity (elephants never forget) and set up an office. I also added a cat, a coffee maker, a couch and a vending machine that dispenses chocolate. Fluffy was hungry, so I had to learn to feed her. Kari, who was at the reception desk at the time, even came to my office to help me learn how. The fact that I could humanize this computer environment amused me and it was not difficult to do. I would like to customize the look of my office, but decided that the learning curve and time it would take is not worth it for me. Stop by my office sometime to say "HI" (1506W). If I am not there you can leave me a note on the Whiteboard!

Years have passed since I stumbled in, but I keep on trying and learning. Now I always remember my username and password. I am recognizing some of the same names in the After School Online sessions and thinking about the next step. I work with elementary school teachers. The goal of our statewide program in Missouri is to integrate technology in student-centered inquiry-based ways (http://emints.more.net). The ultimate goal is to enhance student learning and we are seeing some terrific results. I also guide a few courses for Connected University. I have begun to share TAPPED IN with teachers that I am working with and also to use my office for Office House with Connected University. I am hoping that it will become a useful virtual meeting place in the near future.