I wonder sometimes why sites like for educators dont get up and moving more quickly. I am heavily imvolved with various artists forums online, and they are much more active spaces for sharing, learning, discussion etc. And new ones get going quickly - I was involved with one Glasss art forum, which became a vibrant online community months, if not weeks, after opening.

Having been used to those communitites, I find it very frustrating that there is virtually no replies to posts here, few new threads, etc.

I know one answer will be that we have to reach a critical mass for that to happen, but as I have witnessed in the glass community, that happens much faster in other fields. Every new education community I have joined has been slow to get off the ground, and eventually, I will stop coming and checking, as there is nothing new to read or respond to.

Why is it that teachers seem so reluctant to utilise this amazing learning/sharing/social opportunity? I think that edublogger world has huge potential, but I am concerned that my patience will not last till that potential is fulfilled.

And yes, I am being intentionally controversial (hmm, maybe not...argumentative?) - anything to provoke a response! :)

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Interesting question Suzanne.

Sure critical mass helps - if you look at typical online participation rate 90 % lurk, 9 % contribute every now and then and 1 % all the time. So one point would be that just because a person is not contributing does not mean that majority people are not gaining from an online community.

Saying that as a contributer, it can be frustrating if no one else is contributing. My thoughts for any new community when it starts is it needs a core group of individuals that building up the communication. So if we look at the core people in this community, these people already have huge demands on their time, are extremely busy helping out lots of people. And why should they be expected to do all the work. Community members should take time to get involved.

I have been participating in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, and we eventually formed a team to do the daily tasks. People from this group have now set up their own community http://betterblog.ning.com/. Will be interesting how this community goes. However I will believe it will be strong for a few reasons. You have a core group of people, who have already been working strongly together for a month. All the core people are overachievers, and in the !% category. Helps if you encourage the one percenters in a community. Other features that will add the success are a structured program of weekly challenges. And the site is very structured - it is fairly clear on how New people can keep track of the forum..

The other large online community I belong to has different themes for each month. And then key discussions threads are started up based on the themes. I believe that having monthly themes, or some weekly aspect of these communities increases participation. Communities do need some structure to encourage participation.

Sue
I guess Ive been spoiled. On the glass forums active participation is MUCH higher than 1%. I am used to asking for an opinion, or assistance, and having a response within a day at most (which is allowing for the time differences). I have responded to 4 discussions on here I think, and none of them have any further replies.....its very hard to maintain interest in that environment.
Suzanne, I understand your frustration, of course it's difficult to keep interest when there are no replies. I'm part of the Spanish speaking group here, which is quite active and I think that's why I keep coming. I think this happens because the members of this group have developed a strong sense of belonging. Maybe this is not happening to the rest of the community.
I'm quite disappointed,too. When I joined in there seemed to be much more enthusiasm.
Hello Suzanne,

Your point is valid. Nevertheless, I think that an added measure of patience at this particular time would prove beneficial - both to you and to all of our community's members. Here are a few of my thoughts related to this very issue:

1. It is an extremely busy, transitioning, period of time right now for all teachers in the northern hemisphere, as it is the beginning of a new school year. I'm sure that in a few weeks there will be more teachers willing (and with a little more time) to participate.

2. Many people are "social network"ed out. Ning, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace - Social networking has just begun to explode. I like to think of this as an early stage for social networking - as so many people are exposed to it, they are highly likely to jump from one network to another. In time, I think that the networks that truly matter will float to the top. I guess as a community, it will be our responsibility to decide if it's really worth it for us to stick together.

3. To be honest, I think we're still in an infantile stage with EduBloggerWorld. We've only held one virtual meetup.

So, I would hold of on giving up on our community. I, like you, also think that EduBloggerWorld has tremendous potential.

As a result, I'll reserve final judgment for a future date.
Oh, I agree. I am not giving up just yet. I'm just trying to get a discussion moving - and hey, it seems to have worked - there have been more posts to this thread than I've seen to any of the others I've read. :)

I think one of the reasons momentum can be slow to build compared to other communitites, is because in the other ones, people have joined initially as part of their leisure time, and related to something they are passionate about. I know that teachers can be very passionate about their work, but many of them do see use of technology as a chore related to their work, not as fun, relaxation, social activity etc. And they are VERY short of time at work - many of the teachers I work with struggle to find time to check their email, never mind particpate in a forum or social network.
Unfortunately - that aspect isnt likely to change anytime soon - the only way a space like this will be utilised effectively is if teachers see enough value in it to warrant giving time in their busy schedule.
Hi Suzanne!
Welcome colleague from my home town of Melbourne. I appreciate you airing your frustrations with online forums for education. I too feel the same way at times. One reason perhaps is that there are a number of social networking sites that we all contribute to therefore some of us are perhaps spread a little thin...but then that just supports your argument that there are not enough educators involved. Having just started at a new school in Qatar I am still amazed on a daily basis by the educators who live in oblivion of Web 2.0 tools and have no idea what I am talking about. It is certainly still a very new mindset to be online and interacting and sharing. Another reason for non-participation may be the time of year and the enormity for most of starting new classes and getting settled. We are monitoring the traffic to EBW and find that there is a constant stream if visitors....we just need to be more proactive in enticing input and interaction...but it has to come naturally.
I've run into this enough times now that I feel safe in generalizing; many teachers have a fear of being judged. There is still a perception that teachers are expert, authoritative, literate, knowledgeable... There's always the danger that if you put yourself "out there" you'll be judged and found wanting. It's much safer to be an information consumer.
I was discussing this with a colleague today, and I came to another potential conclusion about the reasons why some teachers dont get more involved. And I don’t want this to come out as negative as it may sound - but sometimes in my experience teachers are quite reserved about sharing their resources. They love to be shown useful resources online, but are very hesitant to put theirs out there - partly from that fear of being judged, as Diane mentioned, and partly because they feel protective of their work, and like to hold onto their ownership. I think the people who benefit most from online communities are also those who give the most - you only get out what you are willing to put in. So, if people come and look, and say 'I wonder what is on here that I can use and benefit from?' and don’t give back, then the number of useful resources will be relatively low, and people will not find it a valuable site to visit.
This is very true Suzanne. I work for the YES I Can! Science Project at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We've been developing an online curriculum-based database of K-12 Science resources for more than a decade and during that whole time, we've encouraged teachers to submit their lesson plans for inclusion. While we have typically 120,000 downloads a month, I can count on one hand the number of lessons we've had submitted, "uploads" I guess you could call them. Teachers tell us that while they can easily follow their own lesson plans, it would take time and effort to turn them into "publishable" works for use by others. Of course we all know there is little time or energy to spare when teaching. I guess "downloading" is main-stream professional practice; "uploading" isn't.
Here's a question for the group. How much do you think the communication medium affects the message, (and please, don't go McLuhan on me)?

There are segments of society that perceive writing as:
-a noun
-a finished product
-"learned", i.e. scholarly.

Bloggers on the other hand tend to also see writing as:
-a verb
-a work in progress
-a progression in thinking
-a cognitive habit that leads to learning.

Where do teachers fit?

I know other forms of communication are possible. Voicethread for instance is a great accompaniment to text-based blogging. What if we built a community that relied less on text and more on voice? Would it feel more welcoming, less formal, more conducive to conversation?
Personally I don't think the medium will make a difference. The key is people have to buy into participating, and with majority of people being more comfortable with being an information consumer you have develop strategies that will make them want to stop being consumers and make them want to participate. Actually again I should also clarify that there are a lot of people that belong to this forum, that are not consumers, and participate hard helping lots of people.

Sue
I dont think teacher's per se can be seen to 'fit' on either side of that argument. They are as varied as any group of people, and have many different opinions on learning styles and what is effective. I was in a meeting recently where a teacher was adament that by allowing music to be listened to in class, that student were incapable of learning in depth in that environment - others would argue that many of our current generation of learners are incapable of learning without other stimuli in their environment....

I think many people would find it confronting to have voice included in an online community, as there is less of an opportunity to hide behind your online persona. On the other hand, I have witnessed a lot of nasty flaming incidents that could have been avoided if people could hear the intent and context behind the written word.

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