"A new age demands a new paradigm!"
-Walter McKenzie

Top Online
Educators 2005

Volume 7, Issue 7 - February 2005

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Walter McKenzie
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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 right.

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/TOE/. 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
California State University, 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 stimulating Webquests.

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 http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/JAN02_Issue/article03.html.

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 http://www.aea11.k12.ia.us/curriculum/science/constructivist.html. Some of the Webquests for her online course on the human side of computers can be found at http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/kalesan/edit420/webquests/webquests.html.

- D. Jessica Stumpp

Tami Brass
Technology Coordinator
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 in Minnesota.

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

Phyl Burger
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, Wisconsin


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: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/mentor/

- 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 http://www.sfaschool.org/GRADES/CompEd/ComputerCircles/researchsites.htm (Several Circlers have received national awards; most have received competitive grant funding for their schools.)
  • encouraged Circlers to develop school web pages; http://www.dobschools.org/diocesan.htm
  • 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 schools
  • suggests both hardware and software ordering information http://www.dobschools.org/software_suggestions.htm
  • provides technology staff development and encourages teachers to share their expertise with peers through a diocesan program of structured in-service workshops. http://www.DOBschools.org/wksmtgs.htm
  • 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

Brenda Dyck
Middle School Teacher
Masters Academy and College
Calgary, Alberta


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

Karen Ellis
Founder, Owner, CEO
Educational CyberPlayground
Guavaberry Books


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
where they are published on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Karen handles about 500 emails a day, scanning for cool stuff to send to the lists.

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/. The new database redesign is now up!

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/NCFR/. Last fall she evenproduced a video about it that is streamed at

For all of her efforts on behalf of educators everywhere, Karen Ellis is truly deserving of this recognition!

-Walter McKenzie

Shae Johnson
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 classroom.

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.

Mary Kohmuench
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 community.

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 be useful.

- Brenda Wood

Carol Anne McGuire
Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Imperial Elementary School
Anaheim, California


When you visit Carol Anne's web site (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

James Musgrave
Grossmont College
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.

Jim explains:

"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."

Will RIchardson
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 topics as:

  • The potential of the Read/Write Web in the classroom
  • The 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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