Participation in Online Professional Development

Learning about technology and teaching is an ongoing activity that you'll continue long after this course is over. Fortunately, there are many free resources online that will help you along the way. In this assignment, you'll spend an hour participating in an interactive session on Tapped In, a network of teachers. Almost every day of the month, you'll find discussions taking place on topics of interest to educators. It's a wonderful resource that will put you in touch with new ideas for teaching with technology whenever you like.

To get started, go to Tapped In and get an account for yourself. The account is free and will not generate any extra spam in your mailbox except for a weekly notice of upcoming chats.

Once you have your account, you can log in an look around. Click on the Calendar and see what talks are coming up next. It would be very smart to attend one of the guided tours that take place every Tuesday at 2:30pm or Saturday at 11:00am. You'll find the helpers at Tapped In to be the best feature of the place. They're friendly and smart.

Here's a one-page overview of the interface at Tapped In.

If you'd like to practice, join Philip Molebash in his virtual office at one of the following times:

  • Tuesday, February 28, 8pm
  • Other time TBA

To enter the conversation, select Philip's name (PhilipM) and under the Actions popup button, select Join. We'll just chat about the course or whatever you like. This will provide a low pressure way to get comfortable with Tapped In's interface.

What Counts for This Assignment? This is meant to be an experience in Professional Development. I recommend that you attend one of the tours of Tapped In scheduled twice a week or visit me in my office at the designated time, but these don't count for the assignment. You need to attend a formal scheduled chat that's about something other than Tapped In itself. Unless you are a teacher of ESL or a foreign language, we do not recommend attending the Writing for Webheads sessions. Those mostly informal get togethers and are not representative of the other sessions on the Calendar.

A Note About Procrastination: Occasionally a scheduled chat at Tapped In will fizzle out early because of lack of attendance, a missing discussion leader, or technical glitches. Describing such a session will not qualify to complete this project. It would be wise to set aside time to attend more than one session and do it well before the due date for this assignment.

Some Notes About Netiquette: The meetings you will sit in on at Tapped In generally have a discussion leader. It's not a free for all. It's more like a college lecture/discussion than a party or AOL chat room.

Text-based chat has some unique characteristics. One is that anything said by anyone fills the screen with equal prominence. If the discussion leader makes a point and people are chiming in with side comments, the clutter on the screen makes it difficult to follow what's going on. Speak sparingly.

Please remember that...

  1. You are a guest in something very big. Tapped In is a community of 15,000 teachers with lots of experience and broad interests. It's not just a little piece of our course, so don't chatter with each other about class or American Idol. Tune into the other people there.
  2. You represent the University of Utah while there. Make us look good.
  3. If you want to say something just to one other person in the room, use the private message function of Tapped In by double clicking on the name of the person on the list of attendees. Only you and they will see what you type.
  4. Pay attention to the discussion and come to the meeting having become familiar with the Tapped In interface ahead of time.
  5. If you arrive after the session starts, don't apologize. That would be like walking into a lecture hall and shouting out "Sorry I'm late" while the presenter is in the middle of a sentence. Just slip in silently.
  6. You should listen first, and talk only when it's clear that the discussion leader is asking for reactions or questions.
  7. Don't add "me too" comments that clutter up the screen and don't add new information.
  8. Remember that you'll receive a transcript of the entire session via email as soon as you log off, so don't worry if you miss a URL or comment.
  9. Try to enjoy yourself and don't be put off by this long list of commandments. They're here because in the past a few people have wilded their way thoughtlessly through Tapped In sessions and diminished the experience for others. Ideally, you'll like Tapped In so much after your first experience that you'll join in regularly as part of staying on top of things in education.

You'll complete this assignment by posting to all members of the class via the OPD forum on Moodle a description of the session.

  • describe the purpose of the chat and provide background about the chat leader;
  • describe who the other attendees were;
  • summarize the discussion;
  • include links to anything useful that was discussed in the chat;
  • conclude with a reflection about what you learned and how you feel about this medium for professional development.

This assignment counts for 10% of your final grade. Your posting should therefore be substantive.

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