It's All About Connections

In this month's cover feature, "Online Training: What's Really Working," page 32, author Kim Carter examines the latest developments and challenges connected with educating educators via the Web. Perhaps not surprisingly, the pros and cons of this delivery system remain essentially the same as those we flagged for student distance learning way back in our March 2002 feature, "Virtual Learning Takes a Front Row Seat." Basically, the issues come down to flexibility, accessibility, and scope versus a lack of engagement, motivation, and connection. And it appears that this last piece, "connection," is the most magical ingredient of all. No matter how much multimedia or other fancy technology is integrated or how high quality the material is, without connection, without that sense of community, we remain isolated-and as far as technology and education go, isolation may be the single greatest enemy of progress.

Also in this issue, we bring you some very practical, comparative information on student information systems and handheld computing devices. Todd McIntire's "Student Information Systems Demystified," our Product Spotlight on page 9, discusses six key questions to ask vendors before committing to one of these high-ticket items, and then shows you, feature by feature, how 11 SISs stack up against each other. In our Reviews department, page 16, author Richard Hoffman offers "A Handheld Handbook," which includes both detailed descriptions and in-depth evaluations of six of the latest palm-sized devices for schools. We hope you'll find these features helpful tools when it comes to making your upcoming purchasing decisions.

And yes, it's that time of year again, everyone. We are pleased to be rolling out our annual Ed Tech Leader of the Year program, this year sponsored by PLATO Learning. We encourage you to nominate yourself or a colleague-a teacher, tech coordinator, or administrator. For details, see page 43. We are also happy to be accepting student photo creations for our Portraits of Learning contest (page 41). Why not incorporate digital photography and the 2004 theme, "My Personal Universe," into a curriculum unit for your students? Winners and their schools stand to round up great prizes from our sponsor Adobe, and to have lots of fun in the process.

We look forward to hearing about your successes and to seeing what masterpieces your students will create this year.

Susan McLester, Editor-in-Chief, T&L