Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Carolyn Gery

Carolyn Gery is the Technology Coordinator for Berkeley High School, the main 9-12 campus in Berkeley, California. She coordinates technology funding for the site as well as works with the K-8 coordinator to create articulated technology staff development opportunities for the district. She has worked at Berkeley High for the last 4 years. Before coming to the Bay Area Carolyn was an Assistant Curriculum Coordinator and Spanish Teacher for 10 years at Kapa'a High School in Kapa'a, Hawaii. Carolyn is currently an Educational Technology Doctoral student at Pepperdine University.

Carolyn's Perspective

I was first introduced to distance learning through a one-year teacher technology development program in Hawaii. The program, T3 or Telecommunications and Technology for Teachers integrated "live" broadcasted class sessions that connected participants on all of the islands. At that time newsgroups were a major component enabling us to stay connected in between class sessions. Chat rooms, although introduced, were not utilized in the program and were not connected to educational learning activities.

After moving to Berkeley, I realized that I wanted to pursue educational technology at the Doctoral Level. I was introduced to TAPPED IN as I began the program this year. Our program is a hybrid model that combines face-to-face time with online learning. Twice each term we meet for one-week sessions and conduct the rest of our studies online. We utilize both TI and newsgroups for class sessions and group discussions. The development of a tight community in our group is a major factor in determining student success in the program. What amazed me most in the beginning of the program was how connections created during our face-to-face time became strengthened through our interactions online. In TI you "hear" individual voices and "see" your classmates as you solve and discuss issues together, this is a true bridge between the two distinct learning environments.

I realized the power of Tapped In, especially the group feature, could have diverse implications for secondary students. Recently I have been working with teachers and TI as a tool to stay connected with students that are unable to be physically present due to health or emotional problems. One teacher has taken the training a step further and has developed an online summer reading group for students. The intent of her program is to give these students additional practice with writing and discussion at the level they will encounter their next year in high school. She has created an incredible site on TI that integrates images of whales, links to Moby Dick resources and a dynamic discussion center. There will be a few meetings during the summer that will integrate online and experiential "Moby Dick" experiences - one example is a whale-watching trip!

TI has continued to provide me with ideas on how this can be applied in both my student and professional lives. I am now starting research on global community centers housed in remote locations that use technology to stay connected. It would be interesting to see the issues generated from these centers form the basis of scholarly global debate in TI. And the ideas keep coming!