Magazine article Technology & Learning

Connecting with Professional Organizations Online

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Connecting with Professional Organizations Online

Article excerpt

Having a hard time catching up with your professional associations? The Web can help, with access to a host of organizations and resources to keep you current.

I discovered the importance of professional associations as a new teacher, when our staff redesigned the K-8 science program. It seemed an overwhelming task until we discovered that the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) offered step-by-step planning, implementation, and evaluation materials. I became active in that organization, and when my responsibilities expanded to include additional curriculum areas, I quickly joined other associations. Now, as technology is being integrated across the curriculum, I make continuing use of resources from groups such as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Professional organizations offer a host of valuable services. In addition to publications that cover curriculum development, grant opportunities, and political issues affecting schools, many associations sponsor conferences and workshops, distribute teaching materials, and participate in the establishment of national standards. Unfortunately, though, educators underutilize these offerings because they do not know about them, and newsletters have a way of stacking up, unread.

Web Solutions

Fortunately, many education associations now maintain sites on the World Wide Web that provide a gateway to professional resources and services. Association Web sites offer immediate access to information, and encourage individuals to become involved professionally far beyond their schools. At these sites you will find extensive resources including up-to-date statistical data, curriculum guidelines, information on exemplary programs, names and addresses of contact people, and position papers on front-burner education issues. Many sites let you run keyword searches on specific topics and download the information to your computer, where you can manipulate it electronically for use in proposals, presentations, and reports.

For example, I was recently looking for research to support the notion that technology has in fact improved the education of K-12 students. Following a link from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Web site, I wound up at the "Impact of Technology" page at the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory (McREL) Web site. There I found a ready-made bibliography of assessments, a summary of current evaluation findings and results from a national assessment study (www. …

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