Thursday, 23 June 2011

What do you get from being a Premium Member?

Submitted by Deb Avery
In this first blog post, let's look at how being a Premium Member can benefit you.  Look at the  BENEFITS tab to see what you will gain by being a Premium Member.  You'll see that Schoolnet SA makes a  commitment to you
"As a premium member we will focus our attention on you to ensure that you will grow professionally....and its all free!"

But - what does this really mean?
Teachers who have signed up as Premium Members obviously want to grow and develop their ability to integrate ICTs into their teaching.

Schoolnet offers some excellent face-to-face courses, and many members will have benefitted from these. You may still want the opportunity to participate in one or more of the courses. But for many members, the need is to develop specific skills, in order to take their teaching to a new level. Our aim is to find out what those specific needs are and to provide short interventions like webinars, podcasts, “how to” videos and access to lesson and project ideas, amongst other ideas.  For example, here is a photo of the 'Schoolnetters' being trained by Gerald Roos to deliver the Getting Started course. This session was held in Johannesburg in 2010.

A second thrust will be to help overcome the “loneliness of the only ICT integrator” that some of us feel in schools. In many schools, the ICT integrator is tolerated, sometimes encouraged, but seldom understood. Through the Premium Member group, we will all have the opportunity to share ideas with other like-minded educators and network together. This could include discussions on topics of general interest – like “Should learners be allowed to use cellphones in class?”; discussions involving special interest groups, like Art teachers for example; or discussions between teachers who are in the same geographical area and are able to support each other more closely. This could also include inter-classroom collaboration between different schools or classes who have Premium Members on the staff. SchoolNetSA has a great 'family' scattered all over South Africa. Here are some of them gathered at a conference in Cape Town.

Providing resources to help each Premium Member to develop their own Personal Learning Network (PLN) is going to be one of the benefits. A PLN can be defined as “the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online.” We will devote a blog post to this in the near future and hope to have some webinars and interventions to help you develop your own PLN.

The Internet is full of resources for teachers to use – lesson plans, ideas, games, projects, new tools – sometimes there is so much that the mind boggles! As a Premium Member you will have access to some resources that have been reviewed by other Premium Members and rated as worth looking at. You can follow Schoolnet on Facebook and Twitter to access these resources, and we encourage you to add to the discussion threads.

We are also collecting local resources to share – good ideas from South African teachers. You are encouraged to add to the Library of useful materials that can help other teachers develop excellent classrooms.

And then there are the practical things – early notification and preferential booking for SchoolNet events, newsletters and access to the blog

At this stage, we don’t really know what the members want in the way of interventions. We will only know this if all members participate in surveys, discussions and interventions. We also know that it is necessary for enough people to be involved to make the group really work. Market research shows that a critical mass of members needs to participate in order to make a group viable. So you need, not only to participate, but to encourage other colleagues and friends to join and participate. Don’t be a “lurker” – one of those who look but never respond. Please join in the discussions, the interventions, the collaboration and the sharing.

And then you will gain the full BENEFIT of being a Premium Member.