Sunday, August 05, 2007

Detroit Metropolitan Educational Technology Users?

I love using the internet to meet and interact with other like minded educators. However, many educators do not participate in online resources or may simply be lurkers. Many of these educators may be interested in using technology in their classrooms, but they are simply intimidated. Personally, I have no problem with online interactions, but I still find face to face to be much more powerful. Additionally, face to face offers educators who are intimidated by technology a way into the conversation. So, where is an educator to turn if they want to attend educational technology conferences and meet like minded individuals? In Michigan we have the MACUL annual meeting and a few other regional conferences. In many cases educators would incur some expenses for travel as well as need to pay for the conference (not to mention the fees for their professional affiliation).

Currently, in Michigan, we are loosing funding for schools. There is a fear that schools simply can't afford to send teachers to meetings and if they can it is only one or two educators at most. So what do we do? Even if we have the money to get us to conferences there are really only a few opportunities every year. Before we get to the main point of this post I need to describe another group of dedicated educators I belong to.

I'm a member of the Detroit Metropolitan Area Physics Teachers (DMAPT). As near as we can figure, this 2007 marks the 50th year the DMAPT has been meeting. Some of our current members go back nearly to the beginning of the organization. They have long since retired, of course, but continue to attend meetings because they have a passion for teaching and they've made many life long friends through the organization. We try to meet every month during the school year, although we never quite make it that often. Meetings are held in the evening during the week. Experience has shown this to be the most popular time. Typically we are hosted by one of our members and meet at their school. Often we will be invited to meet at one of the local colleges. Last year we had one meeting at Wayne State and another at the University of Michigan.

Typical meeting agenda:
  • Eat pizza (every one tosses in $5 or so and the host picks it up)
  • Chit chat with like minded educators while eating dinner
  • Do a quick round of introductions
  • Cover any New/Old Business
  • Then we have Presentations - Members volunteer to get up and share lessons/demos/labs they find useful. Occasionally a member will share an idea they had and seek additional input on how to execute it effectively. The presentations are often, but not always, grouped around a particular theme.

All in all, our meetings are very informal and a lot of fun. I always come away having learned a lot. Our dues are a very affordable $5/year and the only meeting fees we have are used to cover our dinner (if you come in after dinner or choose not to eat, the meeting is free). The dues are used to cover any dinner expenses that go beyond the typical $5/head and very occasionally pay a speaker. All in all it has proved to be a very successful model for a grass roots educator association.

So, what's the point of all this? I've been wondering if there might be any interest in forming this sort of organization around technology integration. Originally I'd thought of proposing it as a MACUL SIG, but then I changed my mind. We could look at being MACUL and/or ISTE affiliates, but by being independent, the only cost to join would be our own membership dues.

Anyway, I've rambled long enough. I think you should be able to get the idea of what I'm talking about. If anyone is interested in forming such a group (or a similar one following a different model) please email me, comment on this blog, or start a forum discussion. Or I suppose you could do all the work of forming a group and send me an invite to your first meeting ;)

Cross posted to maculspace.ning.com

2 comments:

Stacy Reed said...

Hi Steve,

I'm not a teacher, but I'm very interested in technology in learning. I have set up a wiki that lists hundreds of free educational resources and I'm looking for a way to make more local educators aware of the free information available to them and their students. It's called Librarian Chick and it's quickly gaining popularity. I'm hoping to move it to a better wiki server in the near future. I've also reviewed software for Tucows for the past 7+ years and have recently created a new site there listing Web 2.0 services.

I'd love to form a group of like-minded individuals who can benefit from each other's knowledge and passions. If you ever do put a group together, will you keep me in mind?

Great blog, btw!
Stacy

Mr.A said...

Steve,

I am a 5th grade teacher in Detroit hooked on web2.0 check us out at
http://classofambrose.blogspot.com and I am also working on uniting tech teachers in the area at http://edvibes.com/about I also blog at http://ambrose.edvibes.com let me know about your local group I would be interested.
Alex