The following are tips based on the participants who have been most successful in past LInC courses.
To make the most of this course, you will need to take an active role. This is not a "lecture-based" course. This is a course with a project of your choosing and substantial sharing and reflections between participants. In other words, this is a course about engaged learning that aims to model that philosophy as you are taking the course. You may already be familiar with this philosophy under this or a different name.
Your facilitator is available as a coach/guide to assist you in this process. But you are in the driver's seat. Please ask lots of questions and let us know what you need to know and which direction you would like to go in next. There are many means you can use to do this: e-mail, listserv, electronic discussion board, face-to-face meetings or online chats, and evaluation feedback.
Carpe Diem, Carpe Learnum, Carpe Rodentia!
(Seize the Day, Seize the Learning, Seize the Mouse!)
Send copies of your project and staff development Web pages as you are creating them. This is not a "one-shot" deal, but rather a process of discussion, creation, feedback, and continued refinement.
Remember that you are part of a group and you have unique expertise, experience, tips, problems, and discoveries that should be shared with your colleagues.
However, if you are ready to move ahead of your team, feel free! All the course material is online and you can access it anytime you want. Don't hesitate to ask questions about things that the rest of the team might not have encountered yet; you may be able to save us all unwanted frustration and confusion.
Keeping up the pace is half the battle. Be sure to check the assignment sheet to keep up with due dates. If you are working with a team in your area, schedule weekly group work times in advance--and don't cancel! Set benchmarks for your progress and continue working on the project each week.
Learn the technical skills as you find they are needed to work on your project. Don't wait until the day before an assignment is due to try a new technical skill for the first time! You may find that you've forgotten a password or run into a technical glitch that you were not expecting. If you try the new technical skills at least a few days ahead of time, you can ask for assistance and your colleagues or facilitators will be able to help you through the problem. This means less wasted time and/or frustration for you in the long run.
If you are taking an online course, it is very easy to think "oh I don't strictly have to do this today since I don't have a face-to-face class meeting. I'll do it next week." This is very tempting, but can quickly snowball into a problem. This has been a major obstacle for some LInC participants in the past. Don't fall into this trap. Pace yourself so that you don't end up trying to do everything in the last month of the course. You will need approximately eight to ten hours per week (including class discussions) to complete your project and staff development action plan.
This is almost as important as communicating with the course participants and facilitators. There are lots of pages in this Web site and lots of topics to read on the electronic discussion board. There are guiding questions, resources, instructions, templates, and examples provided to assist you with each part of your project development.
There is also a lot more information out on the Web. Read what is here first because it should guide your work throughout the process. Then if there is time and interest, go ahead and read more; carefully consider what you read and share your new insights with us all!
If you are lost, you can use the search and navigation bar links at the top of every page to find your way around. Both the LInC Online Web site and the electronic discussion board are searchable. This can be a big timesaver in finding what you need.
You can also "browse by topic" for information by starting on the LInC course overview page which describes each of the main sections, and then looking at each section's home page which describes each of the pages available in that section. We also have a table of contents page which lists (and links to) every LInC resource Web page. Links for the overview, table of contents, and each section's home page are also included in the navigation bar at the top of every page.
Think about something in your existing curriculum that needs to be improved, or a piece of it that you love to teach. Be sure to talk with your students to see what they would like to learn about. Many of the best project ideas have developed from asking students for their ideas!
In this information age, the content is not nearly as important as the processes we teach. Keep an eye toward your district and state standards and you should be able to marry your student's interests with your grade-level outcomes. Whatever approach you take, create something that you and your students will find useful in your classroom; it should enhance or replace something you are already teaching. It should not be the proverbial "one more thing" to do.
Try the activities and be sure to put whatever you create into your project folder on the Web server. Give yourself plenty of time to play around with new technology skills before the due date for the assignment. Allow time for things to get confusing (and get straightened out) before they get critical. Don't wait to publish your work until the last month. Publish early and reap the benefits of peer review. (It helps to not think of it as criticism!) It is normal and expected that you'll turn in several revisions, not just a final draft. Peer and facilitator review will help you to produce something that really is worthwhile.