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The Busy Educator's Guide to the World Wide Web...



In his book, The Busy Educator's Guide to the World Wide Web, teacher and Internet educator Marjan Glavac introduced readers to the best the Internet has to offer. In this Education World interview, he shares his thoughts with you. Included: Tips for using the Internet with your students!

Marjan Glavac, a classroom teacher and an internationally acclaimed Internet educator, began using computers in his London, Ontario, (Canada) classroom nearly 20 years ago. Since 1993 -- through online courses, Web sites, workshops, speeches, articles, Internet columns, and popular e-mail publication "The Busy Educator's Newsletter" -- Glavac has gone beyond the classroom to reach students, parents, and teachers around the globe. In his book, The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web, 2nd edition, Glavac introduces readers to the best the Internet has to offer.

Glavac has received the Roberta Bondar Award for Science and Technology; the NORTEL National Institute Award for Excellence in Teaching; the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and the Roy C. Hill Hilroy Award for educational innovation.

Recently, Glavac took time to answer some questions for Education World editor Linda Starr.

Education World: The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web provides an overview of some of the best educational sites on the Web. Why did you feel there was a need for this particular type of book?

Marjan Glavac: As a classroom teacher, I've used the Internet with my students since 1993. Despite the many changes that have occurred since then, I still find it extremely frustrating to quickly find useful and practical educational sites. It's even more difficult to find an easy-to-use, practical resource guide that doesn't cost an arm and a leg or include pages on the history of the Internet. I wrote The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web to address the needs of K-12 classroom teachers and to help them avoid frustration while looking for online educational resources about classroom management and discipline, lesson planning and work sheets, grants, testing, and subject-specific topics.

EW: With more than 1 billion sites on the Web, how did you select the sites you included? What criteria did you use?

Glavac: As editor of The Busy Educator's Newsletter, I'm always searching for outstanding sites and bookmarking them for future use. The newsletter also gives the Busy Educator's Award to Web sites that contain excellent educational content. There are some real gems among the hundreds of sites that have won the award so far. In addition, some of the wonderful educators who subscribe to "The Busy Educator's Newsletter" suggested great sites for me to include.

EW: What criteria did you use to select the sites?

Glavac: The most important question I ask myself when choosing a good educational site is Will this site make teaching easier or harder for the K-12 teacher? The truly great sites offer teachers help in understanding how to implement this new technology in the classroom and in developing curricula that will prepare kids for the future. Great educational sites help make teaching easier and give students an exciting addition to the curriculum. Good sites inform; they don't overwhelm. The sites I choose have to be worth the most precious commodity a teacher has -- time.

EW: What, in your opinion, is the greatest value of the Internet to educators?

Glavac: It's all about making connections. As educators, we're always trying to make connections for our students -- connections to the curriculum, to schools, to families, to communities. Any resource that makes those connections easier is very valuable. The Internet breaks down the four walls of the classroom and puts an end to teacher and student isolation. The Web helps connect everyone in the educational community, regardless of culture, race, religion, gender, or geography.

EW: If you had to name five sites -- specifically educational or not -- that a teacher shouldn't live without, what would those sites be?

Glavac: With more 1 billion Web sites, you've really put me on the spot! Here's my list: CNN because any list should have a news site on top. This one is easy to read, is updated continuously throughout the day, and doesn't have a lot of graphics. I also recommend Edweek a news site specifically for educators, and Education World because it was one of the first educational portals -- before portals became fashionable. Funbrain, ALFY, and Zeeks for fun, entertaining, and educational activities.

EW: If you were a school technology coordinator charged with demonstrating the value of the Internet to reluctant classroom teachers, which sites would you send them to first?

 

Marjan Glavac's Favorites!

Education World asked Marjan Glavac to share his favorite Web sites. They're listed below.

Favorite online projects:

Favorite school Web sites:

Favorite listservs:

Favorite search engine:

Favorite general Web sites:

Glavac: That is exactly what I've been doing since 1993: demonstrating the value of the Internet to reluctant classroom teachers and to parents concerned about safety on the Internet. The killer application that I present first, the one that still amazes people most about the Internet, is e-mail. When teachers know how to use e-mail to its fullest potential for themselves and for their students, reluctance disappears. The next step is to show teachers how to search for something. I try to show each teacher in my workshops how to find something of personal interest. It may be a book site, a local newspaper, a travel or an auction site, a site of gourmet recipes or antique cars. Once they've seen what's out there, they're usually sold on the value of the Internet. I'm always amazed that once I've shown teachers new to the Internet how to search, I can't get them off the computer! The next step is to show them how to access really useful educational sites, such as A to Z Teacher Stuff, The Educators Reference Desk, Classroom Connect, Education World, and Eduscapes.

EW: What should teachers look for when selecting high interest and educationally valuable sites to use with students?

Glavac: Teachers should use the same criteria for selecting Web sites that they use when selecting a book or video to use in the classroom. Teachers know their own students best and whatever criteria best promotes learning in their classrooms should also be applied to selecting Web sites for student use.

EW: What is your position on filtering?

Glavac: Personally, I'm against filtering Web sites. I believe that students need to be taught how to be responsible for their own actions, whether it's in the classroom or at home. Responsibility can't be the province of the technology. In order to teach responsibility, I have to be able to trust my students to do the right thing. School is one place where, with proper supervision, education, training, and trust, students can learn to be responsible for their own actions. If those conditions are present, then there should be no need for filtering. If any of these conditions are absent, then filtering becomes an option. Does every student do the right thing? No. Some make mistakes, some test teachers and the rules. With help from a teacher, however, students can learn from their mistakes and learn to be responsible. Having said that, I do believe filtering or the use of a firewall is necessary for e-mail accounts. It's very difficult to monitor and supervise incoming mail -- which students can't control -- for such things as virus attachments and inappropriate and offensive content.

EW: What management tips do you have for teachers using the Internet with their students?

Glavac: I've devoted an entire chapter to this topic in The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web, 2nd edition. Here are some of the important points teachers should consider before students go online:

  • Review the objectives of the lesson and the role of each student before going online. If you're going to use a computer lab, will you need a seating plan? Should you separate some students before entering the lab? It's better to deal with potential discipline problems before entering the lab, especially if the lab is in the library or a room shared with other classes. Do you have parent volunteers or friends who can help you? What happens if the computers go down? Make sure students know what to do if the computers go down, and have a backup plan. Follow up on what students learned when you get back to the classroom.
  • Most schools and districts have policies in place, such as an Internet contract or an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). If your school has one, make sure students and parents are aware of it. Sometimes the AUP needs to be signed and kept on file in the classroom or computer lab. More information on acceptable use policies can be found at Yahooligans Teachers Guide and From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal.
  • When I first started to do telecommunications projects on the Internet, my former principal Stu Cunningham gave me some great advice. He told me to always keep parents informed of what I did in the classroom with their children. Send home letters of permission, notes about the project, examples of Internet work. Write it up in your monthly newsletter and class calendar that goes home to parents. The last things parents need or want are surprises!
  • Provide students with a rule of thumb for judging whether a Web site is appropriate. My own rule of thumb: If what you are reading, viewing, or listening to would embarrass your parents, teacher, principal, minister, priest, rabbi, or mullah, then you shouldn't be there. There are times when students do click a link that takes them to inappropriate material. I then have students use the "five-second rule": it should take five seconds to click the Back button in the browser and get out of there! How do I know when students violate the five-second rule? If we're in a lab setting, a crowd starts to form around the computer monitor very quickly. If it's in the classroom, unusually high levels of interest in the computer occur!
  • You have only so much time during the school year to teach your curriculum. Sometimes projects seem so appealing before the start of a new school year that teachers develop "join-itis." -- they sign up for more projects than they or their students can handle. If you're an Internet novice or beginning a new and challenging assignment, consider a less intensive project, such as a travel buddy, Flat Stanley, or a class e-mail project. This is much better than having to back out of a project because of time constraints.
  • Treat virtual field trips with the same amount of planning and consideration you devote to real field trips. Because of the dynamic, anything-goes atmosphere of the Internet, some sites may be inappropriate for your students. As the teacher, you know what is appropriate for the grade and maturity level of your students and in accordance with your school and district rules.
  • Just because it's an online activity doesn't mean students can ignore common safety rules, such as don't talk to or give personal information to strangers. To reinforce safety rules, I have invited a representative from a local Internet provider to give a PowerPoint presentation on Internet safety that employs the acronym NASTE. It stands for the following:
    NAME: Do not give a stranger your name.

    ADDRESS: Do not give a stranger your address.

    SCHOOL: Do not give a stranger the name of your school.

    TELEPHONE: Do not give a stranger your telephone number.

    E-MAIL: Do not give a stranger any family e-mail addresses.

For more information on keeping kids safe online, see SafeKids.com, for students in grades three through eight, and SafeTeens.com, for students in grades nine through 12.

EW: What is the greatest impediment to the use of the Internet in the classroom?

Glavac: Access! Imagine 25 to 30 kids in a class having to share one pencil, one ruler, or one book! When your classroom has no computers and your students have no access to computers, students aren't going to use the Internet. Once four or five computers are available in every classroom and labs allow entire classes of students to visit and do research at any time during the school day, then the use of the Internet in our classes and schools will take off.

EW: Who can benefit most from the information in your book?

Glavac: The book, which has become a best-seller, is being used by schools at the elementary and high school level, in college and university Internet courses, and in teacher pre-service courses. My "Busy Educator's Newsletter" not only keeps the book updated by providing new sites but also includes lesson tips and news on Internet projects and awards for K-12 teachers worldwide. More information about who uses the book and newsletter can be found at The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web.

The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web, 2nd edition, by Marjan Glavac, can be ordered from The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web or directly from the publisher. The Busy Educator's Guide To The World Wide Web, 2nd edition, by Marjan Glavac, is published by NIMA Systems, 509 Commissioners Rd. W, London, Ontario, Canada, N6J 1Y5.

Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2000 Education World

 

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