Long ago, when the Internet was just beginning to become a big part of our lives, Kathy Schrock was there to help guide educators. She seemed to know how busy our lives were and made it her mission, as an avid tech enthusiast, to help us find the best resources.
Today, Kathy writes, speaks, blogs, tweets, and conducts professional development workshops, presentations, and keynotes all over the globe.
We at TechnoTeachers are thrilled that Kathy took the time to drop by our cloud office to speak with Jules about her passions and her tips for gaining followers on social media (hint: “pay it forward”).
TT: Why did you initially decide to become a teacher?
KS: As much as my high school guidance counselor told me I should be an engineer (since there were no teaching jobs open back then and I was really good in math and science), I loved school so much and had such great teachers along the way, that I wanted to have the chance to teach others.
TT: How did you move from being a classroom teacher to being a consultant/writer?
KS: After undergrad, I attended library school and became a school library media specialist, mostly at the middle school level. Being one that had an early introduction to computers in high school with an IBM 360 when I was a freshman, and loved it, technology grew up as I was growing up and I became passionate about it.
As a librarian, I understood, ever before the Web was available, that access to information was wonderful, and I began to collect Gopher (pre-Web) sites and then World Wide Web sites, keeping the list of them organized in a recipe box. When an Internet service provider started up on Cape Cod, he told me if I learned HTML, he would post my list of sites. That was in July of 1995. That December, the NEA Today newspaper highlighted my directory for educators and it quickly became very popular.
In 1999, I moved my site to the then brand-new Discovery Education site. I love to learn, and each year I studied some topic of interest to me and applicable for teachers, and developed new presentations. Because of these topics, and my name recognition from the site, I was asked to present at conferences. I did that for many years while working in the schools, but retired from teaching at the K-12 level in 2011 and now teach graduate level courses for the Wilkes Discovery Master’s program at Wilkes University (PA) and work as an educational technologist full-time-- speaking, presenting, and training all over the world.
TT: How have you gained your following on social media do you think? Top tips?
KS: I like to think that I have gained my following on social media by providing my followers with items of interest for both their own professional development and for teaching and learning. I cull my followers, blocking those that don’t fit my idea of my audience of educators, so I pretty much always know who I am “talking” to.
One great tip is to look at the lists of those who you follow on Twitter. If you frequently receive great information from someone, take a look at who they follow and follow some of those educators. In addition, on Twitter, users can create lists of Twitter-users and not actually follow them. However, when you click on their profile in the online Twitter app, you will see a link for “lists”. You can view their lists and chose to “subscribe,” which adds their list to your lists. I use this feature when I want to learn more about a topic. For instance, I subscribe to a list created by a great administrator, and the conversation of those on that list helps guide me as I prepare and teach new things.
TT: Why do you think it is important to grow as a teacher / share your ideas with others?
KS: I truly believe in the “pay it forward” way of thinking. If you are taking ideas from other educators, and using them in a way that is applicable to your class or your content area, you should share out how that went. It can simply be a quick blog post with a link to that post posted in Twitter, Google+, a wiki, or Pinterest. If you don’t like criticism, then turn off commenting. Commenting on a blog post does richen the post, but if you are not soliciting feedback, and are just sharing, then there is no harm in turning off comments for those posts.
TT: Which are the top 3-5 pieces of work you'd like us to share in this blog and why?
KS: The first two of pieces of work that I would like to share are my main Web sites: Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything and iPads4Teaching. The Guide to Everything site contains support pages for the presentations I give and have given in the recent past. Even when I stop sharing a presentation, I do add new items to the pages. I retire the pages when I feel they are no longer applicable for others. The iPads4Teaching page contains tons of iPad-related materials broken out by areas such as collaboration, creation, classroom workflow, and others.
My personal blog, Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch contains reviews of items and some rants by me, and is more eclectic in nature. My current blog for Discovery Education, Kathy Schrock’s Katch of the Month, is more pedagogical. For instance, I just completed a series on student literacies for the digital age and one on higher-order thinking skills and Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.
If you want to keep up with items I discover daily, you might want to follow me on Twitter. I won’t promise that everything will be educational in nature, but about 95% is and the other 5% allows you to get to know me a bit better!
Check out Kathy’s main websites (above) and let us know which strategies you’ve tried in your teaching and how it worked out.
Quick. Name three things you know about Ava Lovelace. Okay then. How about three things about the ENIAC Team? What about Grace Cooper?
Hmmm. . . We thought so. It turns out that they were all pioneers of computer technology.
Let’s begin with Ada Lovelace. She was the daughter of Lord Byron. But that and the fact that she was beautiful are the least of her attributes. Lovelace was in fact an English mathematician who many people credit with being the first computer programmer, back in mid-nineteenth century. Lovelace’s ideas, working with Charles Babbage and his Analytical engine, created the foundation for scientific computing as we know it.
The ENIAC Team came later. In 1946 this team of six women programmed the first electronic computer. At the time, their accomplishments were somewhat overlooked ––the men who built the machine got all the attention (surprise!). But never mind. The team eventually had its day. In 1997 all six women were inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.
Grace Hooper was also a force to be reckoned with. Hooper was both a computer scientist and a United States Naval officer. She is also famous for having created the first computer language compiler, which paved the way for languages such as COBOL. A true innovator in the field of computer science, Hooper lived up to her nickname, “Amazing Grace.”
In the spirit of celebrating modern-day women pioneers, a few colleagues and I—back in the 1990s––founded an organization called Women in Technology—or WIT, an acronym we were very pleased with. We were graduate students at Harvard who banded together to make sure women received the acclaim (and opportunities) we felt they deserved. The University supported us, including giving us funds to meet regularly and to throw big events in which we honored women in the high-tech industry for “Lifetime Achievement.”
When a few brave men asked if they could join WIT, we paused for about thirty seconds and then said “sure.” We believed it was all about being inclusive. Since we didn’t want to be excluded from any of the boys’ clubs that were supposedly extinct, we felt we had to set an example.
We had a great time being WITs. But more importantly, we made connections (many of which are still active today), shared edTech ideas, and networking beyond our academic microcosm—yes even in those primitive times before social media was even a gleam in anyone’s eye.
Today you can find the spirit of WIT in lots of places. Check out Women in Technology, an online organization with this cool mission: “Advancing Technology One Woman at a Time.” Here you can find news, events, networking opportunities, career development and more. Australia has its own Women in Technology website focused on three main areas: “Advance, Connect, and Empower.” Australian sisters, check this one out and get back to us!
If Twitter chat groups are more your thing, go to #Women in Education and connect with educational initiatives with women from near and far. Or follow Women in Technology, or WITWOMEN, on Twitter. This group provides a Washington, DC-based forum for powerful women in media. No admission fee. Just click on follow, like we did.
Once you’ve had a chance to suss out the landscape, ask yourself: In what way am I a WIT pioneer? What’s the best way for me to share my expertise with others? How can I reach out to young women who are just getting started and give them a boost?
We at TechnoTeachers are convinced that by joining forces, and being generous to each other with information and opportunities, we can help even more women realize their WIT dreams. “One woman at a time.”
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