by Donna Baumbach, Director
Instructional Technology Resource Center
University of Central Florida
Combine your professional responsibilities to lead staff development, to teach information skills, and to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
Project-based learning. Laptops in schools. School video news programs. Learner-centered instruction. Multimedia student publishing. Electronic learner-support systems. . . .
Even for teachers who were trained recently, and certainly for those who have been teaching more than a few years, these may be completely new topics and activities. Interestingly, most of these activities at some point involve Internet skills. How can teachers keep up? With increased demands for teachers to be in the classroom and not out at professional conferences and staff training sessions, it is not easy. While there are many Internet-savvy teachers and those who "surf" for their own personal needs, some teachers still remain unaware of the vast educational opportunities available on the Net. Media specialists, whose most important job is to create a school community that can access, use, and value information, can help. A little patience in taking these teachers from where they are and leading them to where they want to go will be appreciated and will have lasting impact on students.
INTERNET AS A PROFESSIONAL TOOL
Most good teachers are always looking for new ideas, new techniques, new ways to make learning more effective for their students. Show teachers how to access the Internet from home or school to enhance their professional development and classroom performance. Even if they think they will never use the Internet with students, hook them with one of the following professional development benefits:
"Meet" Like-Minded Professionals. E-mail, listservs, and newsgroups can help teachers cope with the isolation many may feel. Through these discussion forums, teachers can keep abreast of current issues, trends, and ideas. They will find others with similar problems, share solutions, and ideas. They will become energized and refreshed by talking and working collaboratively with other like-minded people. For a good list of listservs that you can recommend to teachers, try Liszt: Education (http://www.liszt.com/select/Education). Yahoo! has a good listing of newsgroups that might be of interest (http://www.yahoo.com/News_and_Media/Usenet/Newsgroup_Listings/). Another good place to meet teachers and share ideas is The Well Connected Educator site (http://www.gsh.org/wce).
Find Free Information Resources. The Internet has thousands of lesson plan ideas organized in a number of different ways. ERIC, for example, maintains a large collection of lesson plans (http://ericir.syr.edu/Virtual/Lessons/). Surely, there will be at least one site of interest to each teacher in your school. In addition, there are an equal number of public domain and shareware programs available for downloading, many from gopher or FTP sites. This used to be somewhat intimidating, but now with a Web browser, it is truly as simple as "point and click."
Develop Electronic Information Skills. With information and indices increasingly migrating to the online world, most teachers know that they need to develop electronic search skills. What an excellent opportunity to help them find what they need, and, in turn, have them help their students develop skills in Boolean logic, truncation, wild cards, and specific phrase or keyword searching. Help teachers to find a good Internet search engine or two and to become expert at using its advanced features. What may be a good skill to have right now will become an essential skill in a short time.
Keep Up-to-Date. We all worry about getting behind in this fast-paced, everchanging world, but many newspapers (http://www.usatoday.com) and magazines (http://www.infotoday. …