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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You are a good man!
Liz:

I read some of your welcome notes to new members. Wonderful. You are awesome.
Hi Steve and others who posted on the topic of the forums,

Expanding the forums is a good idea.

However, I'd like to suggest a better way to follow the forums, add them to your aggregator. I follow the forums with Google Reader and have been doing so for a few weeks now. I found that I was missing too many good discussions. Now, I never miss a topic posting and, honestly, it's the only reason I remember to come back regularly.

Just add this URL to your aggregator: http://classroom20.ning.com/forum?feed=yes&xn_auth=no

Dan
Daniel:

Great reminder. And if you use this url for the feed:

http://classroom20.ning.com/forum/topic/list?feed=yes&sort=most...

You get not only the original posts, but also all post replies! :)

Steve
Thank you Steve,

I'd like to volunteer to be a Classroom 2.0 'host'. I'd be happy to get emails from new people who are too shy to post on the forums.

If the host thing gets bigger, it might be a good idea to put a line under each host's name telling any 'specialties' they have, such as that they speak a foreign language, or they're particularly interested in elementary school, or whatever.
Under my name it might say that I know the Forums pretty well, but not the blogs. There is no reason for this, except that the forums are at the top of the page, and I usually get so entranced with them that my visits to the site end before I can scroll down to the blogs.

I'm not keen on the idea of asking new members to introduce themselves, if they haven't volunteered to do so first. Many people prefer to first join a social networking site as a 'lurker', and only add something when they feel moved to do so. Some of these people might be put off by an unsolicited request for an introduction.

(But then I am an enneagram 2, and so would be expected to say such a thing)

John
Interesting idea on the "specialty" line. I love collaborative thinking.

Thanks for the offer to help. Much appreciated! Let's see how we do with our first three volunteers, and then I'll ask for a changing of the guard in about a month.
Count me in, after a son's weekend wedding my life will be back to normal. When my name comes up on the roster send me a list of written instructions---I'm getting old!! ha. N
Right on!

You could even informally poll the existing volunteers after a month, and see if there are questions they've had trouble with, and choose new hosts based on that information.
I really struggle with these issues of social networking and sharing information. Especially in the realm of professional development which I think embraces all this activity.

Firstly, I'd like to see some formal training of educators happening through this site. Open forum courses, like open form courseware. Lots of experts who could lead courses and contribute and I think the idea of a "host" is a tiny start in the area of sharing our knowledge towards a greater good. Diploma given after the course.

This leads to the idea that after awhile, a community needs "content" like a city needs parks, tennis courts, pools, libraries, shopping malls and restaurants. It is not just people phoning from their homes and walking on the street chatting. I know I'm being metaphorical and vague but think of the metaphor for a moment when you think of thousands of educators in one community......right now, it is like a beach party gathering in some way. Sooner or later, permits and formality will beckon. It's natural.

I really think more content is needed. That is what teachers need. Hard core blackline master stuff. Yes, that is passe but if you follow me, this site will have to develop and extend into other areas in this realm.

I also am distrustful in the long term, of the linear dialogue that happens here. It is very analogue in my opinion. We need portals, where you dive down the rabbit hole and discover......a web with Classroom 2.0 in the middle and lots of branches. A totally redesign if there are tens of thousand......also it must be less script/text based than it is at the moment. Sure for the moment with us analogue nerds aboard it's okay but eventually the pictorial and image laden vocabulary of the youth with replace our chicken pecking scrawl....

I wish I could be more concrete and less "poetic" but just trying to stir the soup.

My take, based on my own stumblings, bumblings, tumblings down many a rabbit hole...

DD
http://eflclassroom.ning.com
DD, it would be good if you could flesh this out a bit. I agree with the content suggestion (and there is a wiki).

What about reviews? On many of the tech forums, reviews of products tend to hold the thing together. They become permanent resources that will draw people back to the site.

Maybe you could set some examples with video reviews of some product or technique?
Hey, "old guard," here's another question for you: in addition to fine tuning the job description of moderator, would you care to comment now on the roles/responsibilities/expectations for individual members?

And I don’t mean codes of conduct, netiquette, or guidelines for appropriate use.

I am talking about minimal expectations for participation and attitude to ensure a meaningful learning experience within the network (in addition to a safe, ethical and responsible one).

I am not trying to sap all the fun out of this place, but being a member in good stead within any organization requires a certain amount of practice, commitment, and, dare I say, DISCIPLINE. What are those habits and disciplines?

This thread has been very helpful to me in that I am currently studying social networking as a means of teacher professional development, particularly mentoring and induction of new teachers. I’ve spent some time in recent weeks trying to get a handle on the moderator’s role in these virtual learning communities. Some good discussion resulted at Ning in Education when I posted a question there, and now this thread has emerged with many good insights about how to nurture and grow a network.

But. . . .

In my quest to define the moderator’s role, I had completely overlooked the minimal standards for individual membership. From this discussion, I've already gleaned a few points: 1) it is good to use an aggregator for new posts and replies, 2) bring your questions to the forum, 3) add an introductory note and thumbnail photo about yourself so other members will be more inclined to connect with you.

What else? Is it possible to articulate these expectations, without being too prescriptive??
what are the limits to freedom. If the moderator is really moderating, should there be some criteria for what is relevant, irrelevant or just plain spam (on the other hand there is also some community responsibility amongst the mature for responding to discussion spammers). Are there also criteria for extending the discussion, or taking the initiative of creating a new discussion (ah! 'old guard' ways nearly caught me - I was going to say 'thread').
Should- in a professional realm like this one - there be some requirement for fresh information, relevant data, solid research. (Somebody, recently here was pleading for us to be 'feet on the ground practitioners'.) It's lovely to pool ignorance, or share prejudices, but to move forward, it's handy to have data from the past which can inform a vision for the future and which leads to action in the present.
This is, in a sense a rehash of (my response to) Mary Hricko's project from ningineducation - Theoretical research on social neworking tools. Looks like a great idea to be part of. Have a look.

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