When Classroom 2.0 started, there was a big question about whether social networking would even be an appropriate tool for an educational network. I believe that was quickly answered, and for many of us, CR 2.0 became a place of some amazing and engaging dialog.

The original purpose of the site was to provide an easy, user-friendly entry-point into using Web 2.0 for those who didn't have much (or any) experience with the collaborative web. I still think the site does that, but now that it's grown to almost 3400 members, I get the feeling that some of the sense of being a "community" that originally developed is harder to experience. And maybe that's OK, as lots of you have taken Ning and built your own communities that are more specific to your particular needs.

But I'd also like to tap into some of the "old guard" and find out if there are things you think I could be doing to improve/grow/facilitate what takes place here. When you take the time to participate, you make a huge difference and are appreciated.

(I also have to say that I really think it's time for some kind of a Classroom 2.0 get-together, virtual or physical. I'll be announcing EduBloggerCon 2008 soon, to take place in association with NECC, and this year we're also going to have EduBlogerCon West in March as part of the CUE.org show in Palm Springs. I'm hoping a lot of our CR 2.0 friends will come. But I keep wondering if there is enough critical mass to do a Web 2.0 in Education conference by itself... It wouldn't have to be huge, but I think it would be an amazing event.)

So, old and new guard, where do we go from here?

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True, Nancy,
But it keeps 'em off the streets. (Although I must admit, I don't like it when it happens to me - either in person or on-line but that's a typical reaction of an enneagram 5!)
And I guess it keeps the invitiations to present at conferences rolling in!
Well, the answer to the question can you continue to have deep conversations when you get into the thousands of members seems to me to be yes. I wasn't one of the early joiners. When I joined I think there were already many hundreds of members. But I was welcomed and messaged by a couple of people, very interesting people from different parts of the world, who weren't trying to sell me anything, so that intrigued me and kept me coming back for a while.

Then I found a need that CR20 could fill. I was giving a workshop on Web 2.0 for Administrators and I needed suggestions. I posted a forum topic and I posted on my home page. I got only a few responses, but they were really good responses!! I excited talked about this kind of networking in my workshop, and hopefully some of my colleagues joined too.

So, I don't know if I'm typical, but it seems like I've been able to find a few like-minded folks among the throngs who are here, and that's all I need. Could that be a model?
Marian:

I guess that is the hope, and I'm glad you've had a good experience here. I hope it's representative, but I do worry that the size may put some people off and make it seem more threatening to be a part of all that is going on.

I think the greeter/host idea makes sense based on your first experiences.

Thanks!
I just blogged here about this issue. Thanks Steve for addressing it. When I first got here it was much smaller. That had its benefits. As the community grew and my life got busier I stepped away. Now that I'm back things do seem a bit overwhelming. But I've also gotten so many responses to the discussions I have started and so quickly too. That has been really helpful and fun.

I love this community. I feel like we all come here with such a great attitude and a positive spirit. I agree that new people might feel lost here at first. I like the idea of having different members volunteer to welcome and help new members out when they first join. Maybe you could ask that as a question to new members - "Would you like a member of the community to show you around?" I would certainly be willing to help out for a period of time. I'm sure many other people would also like to volunteer.

I agree that the groups function isn't really useful. I started a group a while ago and I don't feel like it went very far. Maybe we could create groups by the letter of your last name - so you could have a smaller group to you could get to know.

-Liz
I have to echo the sentiment about how awesome this site is as a reflective resource, reality check, and place for collaboration. I think Steve has filled a hole with Classroom 2.0 that was missing in Ed Tech for quite some time.

I've learned a great deal here in my short amount of time. Also, I think as Ed Tech folks we are so often busy with designed and giving training, our own PD (in some form or another), and trying answer the question of how to tackle ed tech adoption that collaboration can easily take a back seat. I've come to enjoy viewing and posting to the forum - I try to at least take a look daily...and every time I do I seem to learn something or see something in another perspective.

There are many talented, knowledgeable, and dedicated folks here willing to share their experiences and insights. I think that's one of the things that makes it a great place....and knowing that no matter where we live or what we teach many of the Ed Tech themes are the same...

Technically, I think as some others may have pointed out that the forums sometimes seem to get buried - but I really hate to seem nit-picky. Overall, I think the site provides a good framework that can transcend time and technology.

Thanks Steve for your hard work in providing such a valuable resource.

~Edwin
OK, I've done one thing which I think will help. I've expanded the number of forum posts on the front page to 20. Until Ning changes the main forum page to give the option for chronological listings, I hope this is an appropriate fix. I had it longer before but shortened it to make the main page less imposing... Let me know your feedback.

I'm also going to add a box on the front page indicating special "hosts" for the month. I'm putting Elizabeth down because of her post, and would think three or four each month could do something really helpful. Let me know if anyone else wants to be added. The idea would be that the CR 2.0 hosts will try to squeeze in to their own day making helpful comments or welcoming new people. They will also be visibly available if someone feels they want to ask a question through email to get help--which may be easier on someone new who is shy about posting publicly.

Great, great ideas. Let me know if you think I'm implementing them well enough.
Thanks Steve,
Should I be welcoming people when they join or just waiting for them to contact me? How will I know when there are new people? I am also willing to be a guest blogger - but not the first one.
-Liz
Brainstorming:

Be on the lookout for new people
Look for natural connections or associations
Welcome new members if it seems appropriate or helpful
Try to comment on posts or blogs that don't have any comments
Try to draw attention to un-noticed but valuable cotributions

Think that's a good outline for "hosts?"
I'm using this spot to gather additional ideas for "hosts" or "greeters."

* Checking forum posts for uniform tags, so that they can be found later.
You might check the Introductions Forum, some people check in there.
Could be nifty to catch some of the new folks who join without providing an introduction and (nicely) ask them for one. I know I've sometimes rocked up to the page of a new name, and if they haven't got an intro, I tend to leave without a comment. If they're 'present' with an intro, I'll leave a Hi, or something similarly deep.

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