To whom it may concern:
I would like to add my endorsement for Jeff Lebow as Technology & Learning Leader of the Year. Through his Worldbridges communities, he has made it possible for countless education professionals from all over the world to interact with one another, share resources, and build personal learning communities.
My involvement with Worldbridges began in 2005 while searching for education-related podcasts. Jeff was a pioneer in this area, producing the weekly Ed Tech Talk podcast. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this was the tip of a much larger iceburg.
Ed Tech Talk isn’t just a podcast. It’s an audio archive of a real-time conversation held by participants from all over the world. Listeners tune in live to the webcasts of these conversations, and can interact with the hosts and show participants in a text chat. This makes the show a uniquely interactive experience.
I soon found that Jeff had built an entire community of communities in Worldbridges. While Ed Tech Talk is one aspect of this diverse group, there are also groups devoted to professional development in the CMS Academy and Webcast Academy. The EducationBridges community is attempting to help teachers better incorporate technology in their teaching by providing support and funding for innovative projects. Puscanweb and TibetanBridges encourage free speech in Korea and Tibet. The Webheads in Action group represents an energetic and devoted collection of teachers from throughout the world who are embracing the need to improve our students’ knowlege of world cultures and global connections.
Within the Ed Tech Talk community, a number of shows have developed, following different formats. There are shows available for teachers at any grade level, and there are resources that will meet the needs of any teacher’s technological level. In addition, the community is not afraid to debate many of the controversial issues in educational technology.
As I gained a better understanding of Jeff’s work, I also became more involved. I have participated in several of his “webcastathon” marathons, where teachers are encouraged to share ideas, debate issues, and solve problems over the course of a 36-hour webcast. I have listened live to most of the nine weekly shows on the Ed Tech Talk network. I have also participated regularly in the Ed Tech Weekly roundup of news and resources. Thoughout this process, I’ve met some outstanding educators, learned about some wonderful resources, and changed my view of how professional development should be conducted. Jeff is responsible for all of these changes.
As a humble, unassuming person, Jeff downplays his importance in all this. The reality is that Worldbridges is his vision. He developed the idea, got it off the ground, and still pays the bills to keep it free. He contributes countless hours each week to make sure everything is running smoothly. He encourages people to get involved, and pushes them to provide more, better content for the community. He is a strong believer in collaboration, and is willing to help just about anyone with a good idea and a little ambition.
I know of no other person working in educational technology who is more deserving of this award.
John C. Schinker, M.Ed
Brecksville-Broadview Hts (OH) City Schools
Update: Lots of people agree, including Dave Cormier, Jennifer Maddrell, Alex Ragone, Sharon Peters, Dave Cormier, Lee Baber, Jeff Flynn, and probably many others.