Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Jill Thomas

Jill Thomas is the Technology Coordinator or Sesser-Valier School District in Sesser, Illinois. Sesser is a small rural district and includes Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Jill's Perspective

I use TAPPED IN for our Regional Office of Education. We wrote a Federal Challenge Grant 4 years ago. It was funded for 5 years. In a nutshell, our goal was to increase professional development, engaged learning teaching strategies, and the Illinois Learning Standards.

We were looking for innovative ways to teach and learn and we felt that TAPPED IN gave us that avenue. Anyone who wanted to participate in "sessions" were required to attend one "face-to-face" meeting to learn how to walk and talk in the virtual learning environment. The rest of the sessions took place where the learner was, whether that was at home, in labs, or still at their offices. This cut down on travel time and was an inducement to take sessions. We will begin using the new version of TAPPED IN (TI2) this upcoming school year. We already have in plans "face-to-face sessions" for learning the updated environment. The teachers are excited to use this technology. Many of our students take distance learning classes and are beginning to become interested in online learning, therefore our teachers want to stay updated with the technologies available to stay "up" with students!

I have used TAPPED IN as one means of increasing professional development by offering online sessions through TI on a variety of different subjects. Some examples are: Giving New Life to Old Lessons, Creating a Student Portfolio, Creating Lessons Using the Nets Standards. After reviewing pre-selected web sites participants are involved in discussions and then on their own time create a product based on the material covered (updating an old lesson by adding new assessment tools or adding new websites or information based on what they learned in this session). We then "meet" back together again and share our product. It has been a successful avenue for learning and I will use TI2 in much the same way. Sharing files and notes will be easier though. We are anxious to begin using TI2 next school year.