image At the heart of the Innovative Teachers Network are communities, the ITN team see them as an essential tool in supporting any professional development happening in schools. How often have you attended a course only to put all the materials on a shelf, with good intentions to follow up on the list of actions that you made, only to find it still there 6 months later?

This always happened to me, I found that the enthusiasm I had on the course was a result of the sharing of ideas and experiences between the delegates. If I could capture that when I was back in school , then I think perhaps the course outcomes would have been more productive. This is where I think the communities feature on the ITN site is invaluable. If you running a course, setting up a professional development programme or just have ideas and resources you would like to share, then setting up a community on the ITN is probably one of the most productive ways of sharing and supporting your work.

In a community you and can make announcements, set dates for events and meetings, add links to websites, run discussions and upload shared files.

Setting up a community tips: Setting up a community on the ITN site is simple, firstly sign in to the site, click on the Communities tab and click Start a community. You need to make some decisions in filling out the form. What will you call the community? Don’t put the word ‘community’ otherwise it will appear twice when the community is created e.g. in the title box if you type E-learning, it will appear on the site as ‘E-Learning Community’, if you put community in the title it will say ‘E-learning Community Community’.

Make your community public or private. If you make it private you will need to approve those wishing to join the community, also you will get requests from people who are outside your initial group, it is your decision to let them join, my advice is to welcome them in, you never know what they could contribute.

Set the alerts on each section, this will automatically send you an email when something new has been added. Encourage your community members to do the same. You can set the Alerts in the Actions menu in each section.

Join other communities and see how they are set up and use this information to build your own.

When you create a community, there will be short delay before it appears live, whilst your request goes through an approval process. In the meantime as the community creator you will be able to see and work on the community.

Remember to try and keep your community up to date.