Summary:How can we keep teachers connected to each other across time and space? This monograph illustrates how the web can be used effectively to facilitate continuity and follow-up opportunities at sites. Showcased are the Bay Area Writing Project's ezine, Digital Paper, and the Alaska State Writing Consortium's Virtual Open Institute. This in-depth piece could be helpful for sites whose teachers are geographically distant from each other as they explore shifting to virtual spaces for institutes.
So, what does a successful virtual institute include? The success of a virtual institute is determined in part by what the institute does not include. The online format lends itself to packing in more and more activities and technology. Couldn’t we just explore digital storytelling? How about if teachers create class blogs? What readings are required or optional? Online institutes that are not focused on technology have the same challenges around what to include and what can be omitted. We have striven to keep the institute uncomplicated and engaging by carefully picking and choosing materials and activities. A successful online institute, like any successful institute, should leave the slightly exhausted participants wishing for ways to continue writing, stay connected with the community, and transform their own classrooms by incorporating skills learned at the institute. Fortunately, because the institute takes place during the school year, much of the integration happens naturally, but we must avoid anything that could be viewed as merely time-consuming busywork by already busy teachers.