Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Russ Knopp

Russ Knopp is a veteran middle school teacher in rural Waitsburg, WA. He uses technology extensively as a learning tool for students in his grades 6-7 combination class at Preston Hall Middle School. Only recently a member of TI, Russ's students are now connected and participating in community learning at TI also. In December Russ was selected by Washington's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as one of 14 members of a committee to establish state standards (EALRs and GLEs) for using technology in education for WA state.

Russ's Perspective

As a result of my passionate and expansive use of Web 2.0 for my students and myself, I continue to learn what our students will likely need to know and be able to do to be successful in the 21st century. Based on what I continue to read and hear, students will need to be connected, creative, and curious.

First, it seems connectedness is a given today, or is it. Sometimes it seems we are connected most places but at school, where, in this man's opinion, we need to work harder at teaching than filtering. That's a topic for later discussion. Students are connected by cell phone (text messaging and more) and the Internet (communities such as My Space, and Facebook). Our students have "friends" at those connections and interact multiple times a day, sometimes meaningfully. Tapped In provides a safe, meaningful, LEARNING opportunity for our students through that kind of connection. Since I believe our students will be competing globally for work, it makes sense that we give them opportunity and practice for learning in that venue before graduation. Go Tapped In! For some time my students have participated in on-line communities via Moodle, blogs, wikis, video conferences, and e-mail. It seems to me that TI consolidates some of these and expands (at least my students) outreach for learning and sharing.

Second, today's and tomorrow's world of a) voluminous and growing amounts of information and b) world flattening will require creative solutions for finding, managing, and storing in a meaningful way all that information and preparing it for expedient sharing with users in our ever-expanding sphere of influence. TI is providing such a venue for educators and their students. What a concept - that teachers participate in a forum where we involve our students. We learn with them and experience similar joys and frustrations. Isn't that just as it should be? Thank you, Tapped In!

Third, more for where it's covered in this writing than for its importance, curiosity for the sake of this "discussion" will have expanded meaning to include zeal for learning, and even passion for work. Although curiosity has been alleged to affect cats negatively, we need to encourage guided and safe curious activities for our learners. It is my hope that modeling such behavior may be the most effective way to teach it. Once again, I can accomplish that and more as I participate along side my students in Tapped In. According to Alan November on one of his podcasts, the leader of the world's largest bank (HSBC) was quoted as saying that a "passion for work" is one of the top two qualities that organization seeks in prospective employees. The other of those is empathy. It is my hope that as my students witness these qualities in their teacher and other students whom they may meet in Tapped In, it will stimulate them to follow the lead of other curious, zealous, even passionate learners. I can always hope, can't I?

Ultimately, it is my hope to use Tapped In for my students and invite other student and teacher groups to join us in learning in a forum that promotes connectedness, creativity, and curiosity in a way that leads to probable success now and in the future. We all need to be life-long learners!