Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Eric Groves

Eric has been teaching for 35 years. Although trained to be an English teacher, he extended his courses at UVM so he could begin his career as an Industrial Arts teacher. For his first 15 years he taught courses in drafting, furniture construction, machine shop, welding, sheet metal fabrication, and precision sheet metal in Massachusetts public and vocational schools.

When the Macintosh LC came out, he fell in love with it. He was teaching Mechanical Drawing at the time and talked his supervisor into letting him into the proposed new Mac Lab to teach drafting using a program called MacDraft.

Later he taught grad courses in technology integration to other teachers in the evenings and on the weekends. The first course he developed was based upon HyperCard. "Quelle program!", he says. He has taught over 100 graduate level courses from Introduction to the Web, Web Development, Research Methods Using the Computer, to Development of Reusable Learning Objects Using Flash and Producing Podcasts for Educators.

The second half of his career was devoted entirely to network supervision, teaching computers and their applications, and technology integration at the high school and college levels. He joined TI in May of 1998 and has used it on a regular basis with the teachers in his courses since then.

Eric's Perspective

Sometime in 1998 I received an email tease about an ASO meeting for Science and Math teachers-ASO, what the heck is that? As computer coordinator in a school system, I thought that that might be a promising resource for teachers of those subjects in my building. The problem was I had no clue what ASO* meant and I can remember asking my AV coordinator to see if he could record it off the satellite for me... imagine?

I did, through a mental process I liken to driving a blunt 2 by 4 into frozen earth with a sledgehammer, teach myself enough to join TI, and enter an ASO session. That first time, I felt like I was standing blindfolded in the middle of a busy intersection, buffeted by swiftly moving 10 wheelers brushing by me and nearly knocking me over-one way and then the other. The ASO facilitator** was from The Math Forum and he was great. Most everyone there was "very hip", unlike me. He even called me a couple of weeks later at work and offered to do a free workshop for the math teachers at my school underwritten by The Math Forum. Wow, that increased my trust factor "big time".

I quickly saw the value of TI, signed up for an office (it wasn't automatic then), and that spring I ran our last technology staff meeting of the year in it so that all our tech specialists could attend without leaving their individual school buildings. At the end of the meeting I emailed the complete transcript to each of them which gave them a complete record of all the tech questions covered-especially useful for those who showed up late or had to leave early because of building demands.

Once I was "sucked into" the Mac, I had developed a side gig teaching grad courses for teachers in need of professional development and I still do. I began bringing them into TI for a couple of sessions of each course I taught. I usually told my students that on a certain meeting date, we'd be taking a field trip, they should wear sneakers or comfortable walking shoes, and try to stay together after we got off the bus where our guide, a woman named BJB, would be taking us on a tour of a very unique professional development center for teachers. What a kick it was to see their initial reactions and get their impressions afterward.

Prior to the trip, I would have them prepare to paste a brief self intro, and a couple of questions, during the tour; one about resources related to their curriculum and another related to what TI had to offer them as educators in general.

BJB typically had the answers for them, and if she didnŐt, she got back to them within a couple of days (and usually the next one), before our next class which began as a TI debriefing session. She was always knowledgeable, resourceful, and kind.

Three years ago, I retired from public school teaching after 32 years, but I still teach grad courses for teachers for Fitchburg State College through Merrimack Education Center. I have done so for almost 15 years-over 100 of them. At least half of them had components that took place in TI.

This term TI enabled me to teach a course to Massachusetts teachers that could not have run otherwise. The computer lab was unavailable for five of ten sessions because of scheduling conflicts, so I was able to run them through my TI office. Since I had to go online, I was able to schedule a trip to Black Mountain, NC, where I was able to run one session, another was run while at the library in Norway, Maine close to our summer home, while the rest took place on my wireless network at our home in Massachusetts via TI. It doesnŐt get any better... does it? All I need is my office at Tapped In, and a network connection somewhere in the country, and I'm "good to go."

*ASO = After School Online
**The facilitator was TI member David Weksler