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A plug for the ISED-L mailing list and greater connection between educator islands

September 10, 2012

Now that I’m back at my old school, I’ve also returned to one of my old jobs, serving as co-advisor to the Student Weekend Activities Group (SWAG). This is a pretty big job, since we work to plan activities that are going to keep 300 students engaged and entertained every weekend.

One of the things I’ve been trying to is figure out ways to streamline our signup process for weekend actvites. Right now, our students go up to a bulletin board and write their names on a list to sign up for an activity, and I thought it would be so much simpler if I could find a website where one could simply sign up electronically. But all of the signup sites I found were geared at single events, and some didn’t allow you to see who else had signed up, which is an essential feature when you’re want people to be able to see that their friends are going too. So after half an hour of googling and experimenting, I had decided I couldn’t find anything that would meet our needs.

I sent a message to the Independent School Educators Discussion List (ISED-L), asking if anyone knew of software that would simplify our signup process, and with 24 hours, I got a response pointing me to SignupGenius, a free and super easy to use signup system that does exactly what we want.

This is a big shout out to the ISED list which contains over 2000 educators, probably the largest collection of Independent School Educators out there, and a very valuable resource for asking and answering questions. Still, I can’t help but feel that 2000 subscribers feels like a drop in the bucket compared to all of the Independent school educators out there. Often, the list itself feels cut of from the wider world of bloggers and twitter, or at least I don’t see a lot of overlap in the names of people who post there. I think the same can be said of many of the physics mailing lists I read as well.

This gets me thinking of the universe of educators more as a series of very loosely islands, and in the worst cases, those islands can be quite tiny—educators at a single school, or even worse, the only physics teacher at a single school. It makes me wonder what we could do to help strengthen those connections and in particular, push them across various media, so that the listserv people could be talking to the blog and twitter people who could be talking to the only go to face to face conference people.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 11:14 am

    Sometimes small islands are better, because people have more in common and are more willing to talk to each other. Getting “everyone” involved in a discussion tends to result in it being dominated by a few loud voices—look what has happened to American politics, where the extreme right wing has dominated discussions.

  2. September 14, 2012 5:10 pm

    Really interesting post. The question that it raises for me is: what brings teachers together? My guess is that it’s a combination of community and resources. I think some teachers (the bloggers and tweeters) see the potential for that and jump at it, while others are skeptical / shy / busy. To get the skeptical ones over the tipping point, I think the key is to improve on the resources (and let the community follow). Note: Glenn Waddell and I have a hunch that the key resource is “the problem.” Thanks for the post.

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