Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Mary Thompson

Mary Thompson teaches pre-service teacher technology courses at the University of Houston and conducts an online technology integration course for 100 student educators in their first semester of field-based placement.

Mary's Perspective

I literally stumbled across Tapped In as I was searching for professional development opportunities for students in my very first online course. I teach pre-service teacher technology courses at the University of Houston and conduct an online technology integration course for 100 student educators in their first semester of field-based placement. These students have been introduced to basic technology tools in previous semesters and are in their last semester of coursework before embarking on student teaching. I feel that this is the perfect time to introduce them to online opportunities for furthering their understanding of the profession that is teaching and how modern technologies can enable them to advantage themselves of resources that might otherwise be unavailable. Tapped In is the perfect resource for developing this understanding. Here is how I introduce Tapped In to my students:
Why Professional Development?
Continuing to learn about teaching and new teaching resources will enable you to be a more confident teacher and will help you to find resources and stay creative for years to come.

Today, technology enables the classroom teacher to reach far beyond the walls of his or her classroom to access a huge variety of activities that contribute to ongoing professional development.

Tapped In Discussion Forum
During CUIN 3113, you will use an outstanding online tool to take part in a professional development opportunity which would not be possible without technology. Tapped In is a free professional development resource for teachers and is used by educators all over the world.

An account at Tapped In allows you to take advantage of a number of professional development opportunities from participating in chats over a variety of educational topics, signing up for membership in discussion boards (including one especially for pre-service teachers), to having your own virtual office space for posting interesting links and holding your own discussions.

It is hoped that you will find participating in the required professional development chats so rewarding that you will continue to use the Tapped In Forum as a source of support and professional development throughout your career.
My students' response to Tapped In has been overwhelmingly positive! Many of them were initially quite skeptical and others were filled with trepidation at the thought of using a chat forum to discuss their ideas about teaching. It is truly a credit to the Tapped In Help Desk and particularly to BJ Berquist for making so many of their first experiences so rewarding and valuable. I have a number of students who have participated far more than the course's required two sessions and who have expressed the desire to continue returning as they embark upon their teaching careers. I look forward to seeing them continue to return to Tapped In for years in the future and seeing them take on the roles of experts for my students who are just learning the ropes. This is truly the development of a profession!

Additionally, Tapped In is the perfect resource for those of us conducting online courses. Being situated in the fourth largest metropolis in the United States, it is quite difficult to arrange help sessions and meetings with students who spend the majority of their time in far-flung school districts. To aid me in this endeavor, I set up online office hours from 3:00 to 5:00 each Sunday afternoon. My students were able to come to my office and ask questions and receive assistance from home. This worked quite well a number of times and further convinced my students of the value of this resource.

Note: I, myself, was a total newbie to Tapped In and the chat environment in August 2003 but I was so convinced of the value of this opportunity and so impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the participants that I added it to my course and introduced it to my students in September. I am so glad that I decided to do so and I look forward to introducing it to all of my students in my future courses. Thanks!

For those who are interested in learning more about the course I teach, the website is http://www.coe.uh.edu/courses/cuin3113. It is constantly under development and I welcome any suggestions for improvement.