Teachers, parents, and informal educators use the Internet as a tool to find ways of promoting learning in the home and in the classroom even though schools are closed for the summer. The Internet has made access to free, high-quality education web sites available to all who have a way to get on the World Wide Web. One such high-quality Internet resource is Verizon Thinkfinity.
Verizon Thinkfinity is an online clearinghouse developed by the Verizon Foundation to provide to the public literacy, education, and technology resources aligned with national and state learning standards. The purpose of Verizon Thinkfinity is to provide an easy to use venue where teachers and parents can find ways of using technology as a tool for learning either at school or at home. It also provides a venue for teachers and parents to connect with others who want to share their professional skills and expertise as much or as little as they choose. What makes Verizon Thinkfinity so appealing is how easy it is to navigate across its Web pages to view everything the Web site has to share with its users. Georgia’s Department of Education is one of thirty-six state education departments across the United States to partner with Verizon Foundation to offer this free service to anyone with access to the Internet.
Verizon Thinkfinity can be divided into three main parts: Thinkfinity.org, the Thinkfinity Community and TIMS. To save time, a search feature allows users to expand or narrow their searches throughout all the links by adding or removing different elements such as topic, grade level, document type (lesson plan, student interactive, primary document, etc.), or state/national standards. While connected by links on a common web page, each component of Verizon Thinkfinity can be used with or without a user registration. A user registration does have the benefit of allowing an individual user to save search results and to have full participation with other users in the Thinkfinity Community.
Thinkfinity.org is the main Web page where users can connect to all other areas of the Web site. Users can click on direct links to lesson plans, student interactives, blogs, an educational calendar, ongoing discussions revolving around current news and issues in education, and year-round professional development opportunities for educators. At the top of the web page, there are links to other sections of Verizon Thinkfinity – the Thinkfinity Community and TIMS. Links at the bottom of the Verizon Thinkfinity homepage (see below) connect users to ten major education organization partners connecting users with 55,000 peer-reviewed, K-12 and adult literacy education resources:
- National Geographic Education;
- Smithsonian’s History Explorer;
- Science NetLinks, and;
The Thinkfinity Community is the professional development component that brings together educators and parents from across the nation to share ideas and to participate in free continuing education courses. Registered users can network with other educators by creating a personal profile and participating in professional discussions. The MY STUFF feature allows registered users to customize how they save and arrange found resources. They can even make “friends” and share across the Web site with different levels of privacy.
Verizon Thinkfinity training is free! Courses are offered at different times across Georgia and the other partner states. Verizon Thinkfinity trainers conduct hands-on training sessions at schools and conferences that explore each component of the Verizon Thinkfinity Web site. Educators who are interested in becoming a Verizon Thinkfinity trainer can register to attend an online Train-the-Trainer session and earn up to two graduate credits. TIMS lists live and recorded webinars available at different times of the year and cover a variety of topics.
For additional information about Verizon Thinkfinity resources and training opportunities, please contact Tony Vlachakis, Georgia Verizon Thinkfinity administrator and state trainer via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 404-232-1322. To find out more information about Verizon Thinkfinity's partnership with Georgia's Department of Education, go to the Georgia Verizon Thinkfinity Partner Program Web page.
Please note: These particular online resources are featured in this series because they meet the criteria for selecting a good website and are either published or endorsed by an authoritative education organization(s) at the national or local level. While all of the featured online resources are free to use, they are still subject to federal copyright laws. The author of this article is a Thinkfinity Verizon Train-the-trainer.