Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Beginning of the Journey

My ed tech learning journey seriously began when I enrolled in the JHU/ISTE A&S certification program in April of 2007 and arrived at NECC in Atlanta in late June where I met Liz B. Davis. Through Liz’s mentoring, my world shifted, my eyes opened and I was hooked on all the cool Web 2.0 tools and the ways to virtually connect with like-minded educators. I remember sitting with her and sending my first tweet. It was through that simple act of face-to-face friendship and sharing that I found myself walking a different path in my professional career creating my personal learning network.

As a library media specialist in an elementary school in Montgomery County Maryland, I thought I was pretty tech savvy by having students use the subscription databases for research while using Kidspiration or Inspiration for their note taking and concept mapping. Every student wrote and illustrated a book using technology and fourth and fifth grade students were sharing and commenting on each other’s book reviews within Blackboard discussion threads. The TV news crew used technology to create animated credits and edited their videos with digital editing software, even though we had to convert the footage back to analog for the non-digital studio equipment. We worked with what technology we had, and took full advantage of it.

Then in the summer of 2006, I left behind my young students, the books and technology of my library media center and moved on to a district level instructional specialist position. My students were now the district’s library media specialists, adult learners, and I was developing curriculum for all of them. My focus broadened and my professional learning needed to be stepped up a notch or two, one of my reasons for enrolling in the JHU/ISTE program.

The yearlong program was phenomenal, rigorous and just what I needed. I truly experienced and came to understand the power of life-long learning as the online program forced me to take charge of my own learning. I was free to explore my interests as they related to the concepts of the courses and more importantly, I learned how to reflect on my learning. I developed lasting friendships with many of my cohort members, content for another post.

So why did I wait until now to start blogging? Fear of putting myself out there for one, time constraints for another, and not sure I had anything more to add to the ed tech blogosphere.

A very practical reason I’m starting is that I am asking my UMD iSchool’s School Library Media program graduate students to use blogs to reflect on their learning in their “Integrating Technology in Learning and Teaching Course.” Have to model what I ask the students to do!

Yet, there is another stronger reason. This past year I started playing at the national level expanding my PLN even more. Being part of the ISTE SIGMS playground at NECC09 and now serving as the professional development chair for ISTE SIGMS, I’ve been inspired to contribute and add to the professional growth of library media specialists. Lisa Perez (SL: Elaine Tulip) SIGMS chair, has challenged me as we develop the SIGMS PD programs. Check out our webinar archives at the ISTE SIGMS wiki  or join the ISTE Community NING and participate in the SIGMS monthly article discussions.

 Always an admirer of Joyce Valenza,  I jumped at the opportunity this past year to be part of the AASL Geek Squad and Joyce’s “Smackdown.” This powerful group of library professionals continues to grow and develop ways to share our collective knowledge, all in support of student learning.  We will be sponsoring monthly webinar gatherings in the TL cafe through the generosity of Steve Hargadon.  More on this in another post.

It is through this involvement that I do sense the need to add one more voice to the ed tech blogosphere. I do believe in the power of words as an effective method for forcing change, using words to champion for the needs of students to have access to quality library media programs, using words to share with other library media specialists and professionals the strategies and resources we can use to implement change in education.

I’ll write this blog like I make my quilts, pieced together by imagining the message I have to convey and letting the ideas, tools and relationships reveal themselves through the creative process.

It is through the collaborative, creative efforts of my PLN buds, Andrea Christman (christman26 for tweeters)  and Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones that this blog is now in the virtual landscape. They both said I could do it, and Gwyneth gave me the final inspiration to start the journey, as she took pieces from one of my quilts and created the masthead image. Awesome!

There is more, so much more to learn and share and there will be more, but it’s my first post. Enough, I did it!


  1. Oh YAY! Great blog, great post and thanks for the shoutout! It's great to have your voice out there blogging cause you are a whole lot of AWESOME and you have a LOT to share!! Hugs & cheers dear!
    ps. and i'm honored to be listed in your blogroll...something i need to add to my blog!

  2. ps. the only quilting i can do is with photoshop! LOL your quits & you voice are an inspiration!

  3. Brenda,

    What a great start for a blog: a description of your own professional journey.

    I look forward to reading - and being inspired by - your future posts.

    I GEEK the Geek Squad!

  4. Brenda I love your new blog. Congratulations! And I am honored to be part of your inspiration. I remember well those days at NECC talking about all of this stuff. It was so new back then (not really that long ago). I hope our paths will cross again and I look forward to keeping up with you through your blog. I've added you to my blog roll and my reader!

  5. We welcome your artful piece to our growing quilt, Brenda! I look forward to reading about you and your students. And I am honored to be considered among those who've inspired your new stitches.

  6. I'm glad to be a part of your journey! It certainly is more fun and inspirational to have creative, thoughtful friends like you to "travel" with. Looking forward to reading more...thanks for the shout out!