Frequently one complaint of many teachers is that they feel secluded or alone in their classroom – particularly if they are the “shut the door” traditional style teacher. Some teachers overcome this with participating in professional learning communities (PLC’s) or team teaching. While those strategies are important structures within a school system, a teacher sometimes needs more than collegial friendship from within their school network. This is where social networking sites designed for teachers come into play. When networking with other educators on teaching related social network websites, a teacher has the opportunity to learn fresh ideas and realize he or she is not alone.
In August, 2010, a teacher networking site named Teachbook was sued by Facebook over the use of the word “book” in its name. Facebook contended that people would confuse the two, despite the teacher focused domain being different in name and scope.
Teachbook is not alone, however, in their mission to facilitate teacher networking. Around the world teacher networking sites have sprung up in recent years. England and Australia have focused social networking sites for their educators, and many companies have generated similar sites.
One of these teacher focused social network sites is called Teachade. The heading of the site states that is has “free educational resources for educators and teachers.” It is an online community for teachers which houses Web 2.0 tools designed for K-12 teachers. It is a free site and creates an online collaborative, professional environment. Currently more than 3,000 teachers belong to the site, receiving access to databases of resources, group forums, digital planners, and many more features.
Another social networking site for teachers, English Teacherlink, was developed specially for English teachers. Many forums are available with daily posts by active participants. Members are listed alphabetically as “English Teacherlinkers” where people can choose to follow the member. In addition, blogs, teacher related events, and other articles are available.
Australia has also developed a free, online network for educators called Education Network Australia (EDNA). Users can browse its immense amount of resources, read about pertinent educational topics, and discover educational events. Groups and lists are connected for teachers to use and to provide feedback. In addition, the homepage hosts a RSS feed of headline news pertaining to educational issues.
Other teacher centered sites avail themselves to sharing resources with teachers, however they miss out on the social networking aspect. A great example of this is Teacher Planet which contains tons of thematic units, rubrics, grand info and more. Yet as of this post no forum existed for teachers to network.
Comparing the styles of these online teacher resources, the social networking sites appear to meet the needs of more teachers. Through collaboration, teachers can use these websites to challenge themselves as professionals while sharing ideas with other teachers. What a great way to increase a teacher’s influence on children around the world!
Have you ever used an online social networking site other than Myspace or Facebook? What do you think of the teacher centered online social networking concept? Please comment below!
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