Blackberry Jam

I have returned to my Blackberry Alley blog site to introduce myself to my fellow learners in the Digital Media in the Classroom course at Wilkes University.  I say “returned” since lately I have been using my DEN STAR blog located at For this course I will post in Blackberry Alley. The name is derived from the narrow alley that ran behind my childhood home, and down which I trudged, at times reluctantly, and frequently late, to my little grade school.

For the past ten years I have been the technology coordinator at my school. What exactly is a “technology coordinator”? I wonder if there is an actual definition. At my school it means that anything remotely related to a computer is my responsibility.  In addition to teaching technology classes at my school for grades 3 through 8 (the librarian does K-2), and meeting with teachers to help plan the integration of technology into the curriculum,  I built and am maintaining the school website, do  the E-Rate applications, write and update the technology plan, serve as the PowerSchool administrator, train the teachers in after school tech sessions, upgrade and maintain all the PCs and laptops in the building (small school, just under 100 computers in all), manage the network and content filter, supply users with swipe cards for the security system, unjam printers, connect DVD players….you get the picture. If it has a plug, they call me.  For the past 3 years that is all I have been doing although for 7 years before that I also taught Spanish classes for K-8 in addition to the tech work. It got to be too much to say the least.

My classroom experience goes back 25+ years teaching grades 4 though 8.  I think I always was drawn to technology, though. Does anyone remember something called Systems 80? So old even Google didn’t have an image of it. 0826destinationI also begged to be the one to get the Destination computer in my classroom. Nod if that sounds familiar. I once did a summer internship with a major local business in their MIS department and one of my assignments was to use Lotus 123 on this new device they had just obtained, put in a little glass room all by itself…something called a “PC”. Sounds funny now, doesn’t it?

One of the ways I have grown as an educator has been to expand my personal learning network. The best way I have found to do this has been with the Discovery Educator Network. Since I became a STAR educator in 2006 I have learned so much, and made so many friends among educators all over the country. It is Vita Demina in SLwonderful to be able to share ideas and practices, to learn new things together, and sometimes just commiserate. I have become especially active in the Second Life group for DEN educators and am a recent addition to the DEN in SL Leadership Council. Besides it being a great vehicle for professional development it is also a lot of  fun and the tech aspects of it are quite appealing to the geek in me.

What I hope to learn in the Digital Media course is not only a more in-depth understanding of some of the digital tools at our disposal, but how to best make use of them by listening to the ideas and comments of my classmates and pondering the writings of some “experts” in the field, though we are all experts at some things and beginners at others.  The DEN slogan is “connecting teachers to their most valuable resource – each other” and I think we will learn far more from each other than we can from any textbook. Let the games begin!

P.S. A shameless plug, but if anyone wants to visit our classroom tech blog, we would love to see more red dots on our Clustr Map. I keep telling the kids that, “Yes, people do read what you write. It does matter.” They will begin next week and will be excited to see how the map has changed since they left in June.

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