During the past year, the Internet has left the realm of research labs and higher education and entered mainstream America. Among educators, there is a growing sense that there is a "use it or lose it" opportunity. Many people have seen firsthand what can be achieved when students are provided with Net access and shown how to use online tools to support learning. Educators who are coming online must themselves experience what it is to learn through project-based, technology-enhanced approaches in their own learning in order to support this kind of learning for their students.
NetAngels are some of early adopters of the Internet who are exploring its potential for education. These educators became NetAngels by helping others who are new to the Internet. These individuals have real-world experience in gaining support from others in the school, district, and community; finding funding; training teachers; demystifying technical issues; and making the Internet part of the innovative classroom and school. They have stories to share with other educators to help them use the medium to its full potential.
Educators who aren't on the Internet or have had minimal experience with it can learn from these NetAngels and understand how to incorporate the Internet into their own professional development and students' learning. Without this understanding, schools won't connect to the Internet and educators won't use the connections they may have.
In this book, the NetAngels and other educators already using the Internet in their classroom tell their stories to those educators uncertain of the educational benefits that the Internet offers. The stories by educators take the reader through the use of tools from an educator's perspective and provide tips on how to effectively integrate the tools and resources into the classroom. The educators' stories also serve as a guide for dealing with many of the instructional, curricular, professional development, administrative, and community issues that develop around the use of the Internet in schools.
The seeds for the online portion of the book already exist. (http://prism.prs.k12.nj.us:70/0/WWW/OII/OIIhome.html) Started by Ferdi Serim, the author of the book, and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Online Internet Institute (OII) is an online six- to nine-week course where Internet-using educators, proponents of systemic reform, and content-area experts form online collaborative groups to 1) learn to use Internet tools better; 2) develop the process of creating online lessons; and 3) create new forms of online lessons.
From these courses, which are held four times a year, OII plans to build an online National Professional Development Library (NPDL) composed of educators' stories about their online learning process, lessons, and resource ratings. Songline will be hosting this Library.
The goal of the book is to invite educators online and reassure them that there will be people there to greet them.
This book is like a travel guide, in that it helps orient you to a new place and immerse yourself in a new culture. Practically speaking, it offers advice on how to adapt, how to get what you want, and where to go to get help.