ITN: 2005 Top Online Educators
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Top Online Educators 2005!
This is the highly anticipated issue of Top Online Educators of
2005, now in its second year. In creating this honor, I wanted to
recognize those educators who are singled out by their peers as
being an inspiration to educators both locally and across the online
community. At the outset of the search for these individuals I asked
for nominations of colleagues who are in the trenches doing the work
of our profession. The thoughtful responses I have received have
been a pleasure to consider, and in a very real sense everyone who
is nominated is a standout in our profession in his and her own
In addition to this month's newsletter, all nominees are showcased
on the Innovative Teaching web site for the coming year at
http://surfaquarium.com/TOP10/ They have each also been notified
and given a web award which they may showcase on their web sites as
they continue to make a difference both online and in the classroom
every day. I encourage you to visit their web sites and contact them
to congratulate them on this recognition of their accomplishments.
Thanks to everyone who participated! I now present to you the top
online educators of 2005:
DR. KATHRYN ALESANDRINI
Professor, Applied and Advanced Studies in Education
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
As an online instructor, Professor Kathryn Alesandrini has been
teaching online courses for years at California State University,
Los Angeles and began adding online components to distance
telecourses in the mid '90s. "Dr. A." (as students refer to her)
has taught thousands credential and masters students in Education
and, more recently, teaches an online course introducing the "human
side of computers" to students in disciplines across the university.
She has had a significant impact on education in three key ways:
stimulating students to explore the role and impact of technology in
society, creating and leveraging multimedia content, and creating
Students explore the many issues surrounding the impact of
technology on modern life in the broader society in online courses
that "Dr. A." has designed and taught. Students learn about topics
such as virtual identity and online communities, privacy in today's
electronic world, online security and safety, the new economy and e-
commerce, legal rules and regulations of information use,
information literacy and the "digital divide" and more.
"Dr. A." creates and leverages multimedia content, especially video
and graphics, to bring online content to life. For example, she used
related clips from a previous telecourse she developed (local area
broadcast TV with viewer call in) to add human interest to an online
course. Audio narration was added to online illustrated lectures.
Then students could supplement the online content with a companion
CD-ROM containing the video. As more students have broadband access,
she plans to bring more multimedia content directly online. Her
academic inquiry into visual constructivism and suggestions for
practicing online educators can be found among the featured articles
at the United States Distance Learning Association site at
Finally, Kathryn engages students with online activities and
Webquests that stimulate learning and motivation. She is a major
proponent of the constructivist approach to learning (see her
article entitled "Teachers Bridge to Constructivism" available
directly here or by clicking the article title listed at
Some of the Webquests for her online course on the human side of
computers can be found at
- D. Jessica Stumpp
Oak-Land Junior High School
Lake Elmo, Minnesota
During the past school year, Mrs. Brass has been central to
instituting a 1:1 laptop initiative at our school. She has been
responsible for designing the program, developing policies, training
staff, training students... We are the first 1:1 public junior high
She is an incredible asset to our school. She has done an
outstanding job of designing and redesigning our school's website.
She is constantly learning and exploring and sharing the knowledge
she gains with all of the staff. She searches the web just to find
sites to help us educate our students in a more meaningful and
technologically rich environment. Her excitement is contagious.
There is not a staff member at our school that has not been
positively influenced by Tami's dedication.
- Katy Pupungatoa
University of Wisconsin-Stout
My nomination for one of the top online educators is Phyl Burger.
Phyl Burger teaches Bullying in Schools, a popular online course at
the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Phyl helps educators around the
world take a proactive stand to keep schools safe for everyone. She
facilitates a highly interactive asynchronous learning experience
and helps educators develop action plans that involve the school
staff, parents and community. Her Web-based course activities
provide the opportunity to work with different class members, and
everyone benefits from the diverse experiences.
Phyl helps teachers who are new to the online learning environment
feel comfortable, welcome, and engaged. She's a tremendous example
of a warm, friendly distance learning facilitator who provides swift
and thoughtful feedback to each of her students and assists in their
personal and professional growth experience.
Participants in her Bullying in Schools course say:
"This class has had a huge impact on my classroom. I have been using
a program from this course for morning meetings and have seen a huge
change in my students. My kids are more caring and receptive to each
other. They are becoming much better listeners and my classroom has
a family like atmosphere." ~ Elementary Teacher, Rhode Island
"This is a course that will keep your attention and arouse your
inner spirit." ~ Third Grade Teacher, Kaiserslautern, Germany
"I like the way I have bonded with the other teachers online. This
is my first experience with a course online, and I have found it to
be very beneficial." ~ Language Arts Teacher, Oskaloosa, Iowa
Also, this spring Phyl is teaching a new course Mentoring Teachers:
- Joan Vandervelde
BROTHER WILLIAM CLIFFORD, CSC
Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Technology
Diocese of Brooklyn Schools
Brooklyn, New York
As Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Technology since
1998 Br. William Clifford services 68,000 PreK Grade 12 students
in 167 Catholic elementary and high schools in the Diocese of
Brooklyn, NY. Through the efforts of Br. Clifford this richly
multicultural and mainly middle class population enjoys excellent
instruction, software, and today's business technology as they
prepare for the future.
Bro. Bill's service and contributions include:
-presenting at state and national educational conferences
-NY State approved reader for school technology plans
-reviews E-rate applications
-developed a centralized registry of information, eMail and forums
for the diocese: http://www.DOBschools.org
-supports (with his expertise and presence) technology coordinators
and computer-using teachers via Computer Circles
htm (Several Circlers have received national awards; most have
received competitive grant funding for their schools.)
-encouraged Circlers to develop school web pages;
-maintains a diocesan First Class system of email, forums, chats for
administrators and technology coordinators
-posts multiple grant opportunities, contests, etc.
-obtains monies and other resources to advance technology e.g. smart
boards, laptop carts, Dana handheld computers, Classroom Performance
System, scientific probes, etc.
-facilitates fair and equitable distribution of resources among
-suggests both hardware and software ordering information
-provides technology staff development and encourages teachers to
share their expertise with peers through a diocesan program of
structured in-service workshops
-gives multiple in-service classes and follows up with individual
encouragement and support
Br. Bill's bottom line: supply the "goods", provide educator in-
service, be available for questions to offer the individual student
the opportunity to succeed.
We proudly nominate Br. Bill as a Top Online Educator.
- Janet Peters
Middle School Teacher
Masters Academy and College
The Web-based projects Brenda Dyck develops for students are
substantive, meaningful explorations of real-world issues which
middle schoolers are ready to explore. I recommend any and all of
these fine examples of technology integration.
Brenda strives to expose teachers to various tools that when used
will challenge students to implement higher level thinking skills
while participating in online project learning. She is an amazing
educator and deserves to win this honor.
- Karen Kliegman
Founder, Owner, CEO
As owner of Educational CyberPlayground, Karen has been developing
online educational content for years. SHe has been doing a lot of
site work recently, making it easier to navigate through the 1700
pages of content found there!
In the last couple of years Karen began hosting Gleason's Sackman's
newsletters (NetHappenings, K12 Newsletters and Network News), which
she has taken on as her own project with Gleason's retirement (enjoy
yourself Gleasonm - you've earned it!). Karen saw it as a major
privilege to be a part of Gleason's efforts and she felt it was a
piece of K-12 online history that shouldn't be allowed to disappear.
You can find them at http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Community/index.html
where they are published on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Karen handles
about 500 emails a day, scanning for cool stuff to send to the
Karen has also kept Gleason's Hot List submissions going, and is
currently in the middle of updating the Hot List Registry of K12
schools - which he had started first before any one else got into
it. Check it out at http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Schools/default.asp.
The database redesign should be up this month.
A personal passion of hers, Karen tries to get ed techs, classroom
and music teachers to record childrens' songs and submit them to the
online library project she created called the National Children's
Folksong Repository [NCFR] http://www.edu-
cyberpg.com/Culdesac/Repository/NCFR.html. Last fall she
evenproduced a video about it that is streamed at http://www.edu-
For all of her efforts on behalf of educators everywhere, Karen
Ellis is truly deserving of this recognition!
Fourth Grade Teacher
Greenwood Laboratory School
College of Education at Southwest Missouri State University
Shae Johnson has been teaching for 32 years now with 21 in the
fourth grade. She was went through educational/technology training
in 2001-2002 with the eMINTS
http://www.emints.org/about/index.shtml professional development
available in Missouri schools. She has a classroom of 30 students,
15 computers, a workstation, scanner, digital camera, a SmartBoard,
and various college practicum and student teachers.
Shae's website is outstanding. It has been designed to be an
integral part of the fourth grade curriculum, and she spends many
hours updating and maintaining it. Her 9 and 10 year-old students
as well as the college students who come into the room and parents
benefit by the wealth of information that is on the web.
Shae's instruction includes inquiry learning techniques as well as
direct instruction where the children are allowed to explore, ask
questions, develop reports, models, experiments, presentations and
much more. Students learn how to do research, write reflective
responses, and learn about, then use critical thinking strategies.
The classroom environment is exciting and enthusiastic, nurturing
and stimulating. It is a place where children are allowed to talk,
move about, work in partnerships and cooperative groups. If you
view her website, you will see so much about what goes on in the
Many area teachers, especially those who are now learning eMINTS
instruction, come to visit the classroom, use her website, email her
with questions, and she is always available to help. College
Education students are placed in her classroom so they may learn
more about eMINTS and classroom management, inquiry learning, and
hands-on education. They leave knowing so much more than the
theories; they learn practical applications.
Nine and ten year olds learn lots of information, but they also
learn much about technology and Internet by the time the year is
ended. The learn self-evaluation techniques, they learn poise in
presentations, they learn how to work with a team and with
partnerships, and they learn to reflect on their lessons and
thinking. Weaved into the entire curriculum is service learning.
Foundations are set at this level, citizenship is strong, and
learning how to apply their learning to help the community is
integral in her students' education.
High School Business Multimedia Teacher
Lakeland Regional High School
Wanaque, New Jersey
Mary has been an educator for the past 30 years. She has worked
extensively in the integration of technology in teaching. Over 12
years ago, Mary established a multimedia lab that is used by all
departments in her high school. She was also instrumental in
establishing and developing her high school's web site. She
currently teaches Publications 1, 2, and 3 and Multimedia
Presentations. She not only teaches students, but has done a great
deal in training teachers at her school as well as members of the
At her web site, http://www.in-visions.net , she posts tutorials,
useful links, assignments for her classes, and shares her work with
other teachers. She also has two Web Quests that teachers may use.
She has presented at workshops and encourages teachers to help
themselves to her lesson plans and also encourages them to share
lessons they develop with other teachers. Mary has strived to put
as much of her curriculum online for the students to use. Not only
does she post assignments, tutorials and links, but also has various
forms for the students to fill out online.
Mary has and continues to share her knowledge with her students,
teachers, and the people she meets. I hope you find her web site to
- Brenda Wood
CAROL ANNE MCGUIRE
Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Imperial Elementary School
When you visit Carol AnnE's website (USA's message to Oprah) you
will surely be inspired by her enthusiasm in promoting the "Rock Our
World" project she has created:
"Rock Our World" is an International project involving 9 classes in
8 countries on 6 continents. It incorporates the entire iLife Suite:
Garage Band, iPhoto, iTunes and iMovie. Students from each country
share their stories through words, still pictures and movies. Then
they compose songs together in a truly collaborative effort!
Be sure to visit all of the links on her website to see the
incredible learning that is taking place for her students. More
projects are being planned. She is simply amazing!
- Charlene Chausis
El Cajon, California
Jim's Grammar and Research Hospital (password protected) opens with
grim sounding organ mousic and the introduction:
'Do your returned papers look like the Battle of Gettysburg has been
fought on them?
Have you battled with the deadly microfiche in the bowels of the
library and lost?
You've come to the right place! We're here to fix you up!'
The resulting menu offers a variety of topics on writing and
researching at the college level, with a healthy does of levity to
keep perspective as students work through the site. The lessons,
tutorials, sampe papers and online tests all provide stduents with
the tools to master college english skills.
"As I believe my students need some humor to go along with their
online studies, I created this site. It has already been recognized
by the international panel of San Diego's SIGKIDS, and the site was
developed under a grant for an online course by the California
Virtual Campus, Section 3. The streaming video was kindly made
possible by Blaine V. Morrow at Palomar College. I use it in my
online English classes as a major component in the "research and
argument" phase of their curriculum."
Supervisor of Instructional Technology and Communications
Hunterdon Central Regional High School
Flemington, New Jersey
Will has been one of the most influential people in getting web logs
(blogs) used in K-12 schools across the US. His blog is probably the
most widely read blog among educators.
His list of contibutions, articles, and presentations, includes such
-The potential of the Read/Write Web in the classroom
T-he uses of Weblogs in the classroom
-The new Internet literacies that these technologies demand
-How schools can use these tools to improve communications
Will was on stage during one of the keynotes at NECC in New Orleans
this past summer and has been quoted in many articles from major
publications. Will is one of the Tech Insiders for eSchool News.
- Craig Nansen
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©2005 Walter McKenzie