Meeting Colleagues Online: Here Are Some Ways to Extend Your Professional Reach through Web-Based Communities. (the Online Edge)

Article excerpt

One of my greatest privileges in doing Web-based staff development programs in school systems throughout the United States is working with some of the most talented and dedicated technology coordinators. These too-often unheralded education leaders typically come to school early, stay late and work "days off" to implement and manage technology for their school systems, yet they somehow find time to provide whatever support I need.

As the result of such working relationships, I have developed friendships with key technology coordinators including Gary Day and Tena Reese in the Rogers, Ark., school system; Chris White and Walter Ford in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; and Rich Molettiere in Omaha, Neb. Similarly, I have been grateful to work with technology professionals in various state organizations, such as Brad Martin of Technology and Innovation in Education,, in South Dakota, and Tom Rogers of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, I try to keep in touch with these individuals by e-mail and value the times when our paths cross at conferences. When I have questions, I almost always know people to call.

SHARING EXPERTISE In fact, talking about new technologies with colleagues is an essential part of being a school technology coordinator, especially with the explosion in Web-centered products and services. For example, Don Benton, the director of technology in Arkansas' Hot Springs school district, has a strong network of people he speaks with regularly including Chris Mahoney, the director of technology in the neighboring Lake Hamilton school district, and Rick Martin and Debbie Morrison at the state level. He also participates in a statewide online technology discussion group that offers "worthwhile gripe sessions," and "unlimited free technical support." Mahoney underscores that point by saying that he relies on peer colleagues for technical expertise, since they "cut immediately to the chase." To illustrate, when several coordinators needed to compare PDA models from various companies for keeping sports statistics and e-mailing results, they divided up the testing responsibilities, since the undertaking was too much for one system to do alone. …