There is a community of passionate educational technology people out there. The community includes experts in everything from designing and maintaining computer networks to teaching people how to send email with attachments. They’re generally well-read, insightful professionals, and they’re all working to improve the use of technology in schools.
They’re also a very kind, welcoming, and helpful collection of people. If you want to improve what you’re doing with technology in the classroom, you should be part of this community. You don’t have to be an expert in anything. You just have to have the willingness to interact, ask questions, and provide your perspective.
A great way to introduce yourself to this community is through EdTechTalk. It’s part of the Worldbridges network, a truly impressive global network of people working in a variety of areas. The EdTechTalk community centers around webcasts. Typically, two or more hosts hold a live audio conference online. This conference is streamed, so anyone on the Internet can listen to it while it’s going on. In some cases, guests are invited to participate in the shows by using Skype to call in. Think of it as an online radio talk show.
While this is all happening, there’s a text chat. People listening to the show can comment on the show while it’s taking place. The hosts are also in the text chat, so they can respond to questions and issues raised there. Depending on the show, they may also use screen-sharing software that allows them to demonstrate applications and web sites. In a few cases, they also provide video.
After the show, the audio is bundled up into an RSS feed, making it a podcast. So even if you don’t show up for the live show, you can listen to it later, just like you would with any podcast. Since the web sites for these shows all encourage comments, you can provide your perspective even if the show isn’t offered at a convenient time for you.
So what kind of shows are there? Here’s a rundown:
EdTechWeekly (webcast) is a fast-paced roundup of news and resources related to educational technology. Hosts Jennifer Maddrell, Jeff Lebow, and Dave Cormier offer rapid-fire links, resources, and news items, typically covering 20-30 different topics during the 40 minute program. It’s on Sunday nights at 7:00 Eastern.
21st Century Learning (webcast) is a weekly show hosted by Alex Ragone and Arvind Grover, two teachers in New York City. They frequently host discussions and interviews with educators discussing the impact of new media and new technologies on education. This show is the only one offered during the day in the United States, taking place at 1:30 PM Eastern each Tuesday.
Making Connections (webcast) is a good place for teachers who want to learn new tools with others. Each week, they take a new technology, and work together to learn how to use it. Host Cathy Evanoff is extraordinarily helpful and patient. No prior experience with the tools is necessary for this informal show, which takes place each Tuesday night at 7:00 Eastern.
Women of Web 2.0 (webcast) is for all who are using the tools of the Internet whether it be in a classroom setting, leading seminars, authoring books, maintaining blogs or wikis, or just enjoying the tools of the Internet in an educational and exciting way. The show is brought to you by Vicki Davis, Cheryl Oakes, Sharon Peters, & Jennifer Wagner – four women who not only love using the tools of the Internet but also love sharing the tools with others. It’s on every Tuesday night at 9:00 Eastern.
Teachers Teaching Teachers (webcast) is hosted by four teachers: Paul Allison, Lee Baber, Susan Ettenheim, and Thomas Locke. Every Wednesday evening at 9:00 EST, they get together and discuss effective practices in technology, current research, and new media. Their focus is on developing teacher knowledge and leadership in their schools and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student online reading and writing through the use of blogs, wikis, podcasts and webcasts.
EdTechBrainstorm (webcast) is a show hosted by Doug Symington. These are free-form discussions where anyone can chime in about projects they’re working on and challenges they’re facing. Join Doug each Thursday night at 9:00 Eastern.
It’s Elementary is a new show planning to begin on July 9. It will highlight best practices and help teachers overcome obstacles to using technology in an elementary school environment. It will be hosted by Lisa Durff, Jose Rodriguez, and Alice Mercer. This show will air every other Monday, at 7:00 PM Eastern.
Assignment: Listen to at least two episodes, each from a different show. Pick a show, and tune in online while it’s being broadcast live. Join the chat at EdTechTalk.com. For extra credit, use Skype to join in the conversation.