Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Kimberly Flack
Kim Flack (KimberlyRF) is an Instructional Specialist Coordinator working at
ASSET-KAET-ASU in Flagstaff, AZ, training teachers to integrate technology into
their everyday activities and curriculums. Kim taught high school Special Education
and Journalism for 10 years prior to joining ASSET.
"Hi, Welcome to TAPPED IN. Can I help you with anything?" The words on the screen
spoke softly to me, and sounded in my ears like a clerk as I first enter a store
to shop. I wasn't sure whether to click the X in the top of my screen quickly
and run. I couldn't do this. Teenagers did chats, people on talk shows did chats,
but teachers? I just didn't know. This was unfamiliar territory.
I found myself typing back. "Hi, I'm here for the Crazy 8s Summer Carnival."
My response suddenly went from my typing area to the conversation above. I had
entered cyberland, chatzone, TAPPED IN and there was no turning back. Suddenly
people smiled, waved, nodded. The chat screen became alive with human interaction
and a voice directed me to the appropriate location and said I could follow someone.
With a simple keystroke accompanying the word follow (/follow) I was able to attach
myself to another educator and begin the conference. I was fascinated with the whole
process. I attended 6 presentations that day. Of course, I began conservatively.
I learned about PBS educator sites (I work with the local PBS affiliate and was
drawn to hear their presentation - it seemed safe). I became familiar with the
Global Educators' Network. I met someone who volunteered for TAPPED IN named Keiko
who had an office with a pet and a coffee pot and served sushi. I checked in to
various presentations as the day went on. I discovered I had a microphone following
me, recording the text, my movements and that I immediately received a transcript
of my travels and conference attendance in my email as I disconnected from TAPPED IN.
That afternoon I attended a fun session, Virtual Pets. And, when I couldn't imagine
this environment becoming more complex, I opted for a nightly tour of TAPPED IN
offices and learned about how to create a Virtual Office. I was hooked! I set
out to find room in the North end of the Tower. 2413 became my own!
Research says 95% or more of human interaction and conversation is nonverbal.
When we transplant ourselves into the online environment, we often lose those
nonverbal elements that are so vital to interacting with one another. We teach
our students lessons in Netiquette and what it means to TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
and warn them about rereading what they send to cyberspace, because it is all too
easy to become misinterpreted, without those nonverbal elements of communication.
The wonderful thing about TAPPED IN is they added this element to this cyber
As you listen to presenters, you can add those most important elements to the
conversation that show you are interested and participating. You can nod and
smile and even raise your hand to ask a question. The presenters can project
web sites off to the side of the chat area, much like an "in person" presenter
would share an overhead image or handout. These features, coupled with presentation
groups are often small, allow for intense interaction with the speaker and the
audience members. Participants leave the presentation loaded with new web resources
and ideas, armed and ready to go back and try new things in their classrooms.
The world wide web is such a vast place. The resources can seem overwhelming, and
many times useless when simply searching alone at Google.com. But to receive a tour
and explanation of sites created by other educators, and then to see how it connects
to other resources on the web, makes those sites seem so much more applicable to
classroom curriculum and so much more "safe" to use in my teaching. TAPPED IN
adds all those dimensions to educator sites, by allowing guest speakers to share
in this forum.
The calendar each month is full of events to attend: every content area, every age
level, all over the world. In my work for ASSET,
training teachers to use and integrate technology into their curriculums in Arizona,
I hope to increase the number of face-to-face training sessions about the TAPPED IN
environment so that more educators become comfortable using technology for more than
just games or research reports. I encourage teachers to experience a guest speaker
or a conference online, because how often do you pay hundreds of dollars to attend
an event, but never get to ask your question or discuss a relevant issue very important
to your teaching? TAPPED IN brings those experts in the field to a place that makes
it okay to ask questions and make the presentation more personal.