In an earlier post (here) I told you about the communities that exist on the Innovative Teachers Network (ITN). Since the beginning of this school term, we have had over 20 new communities created on the ITN. All have a different focus and represent the innovative ways schools are approaching the use of technology to support learning. To find an existing community on the ITN, first you need to sign in*. Once you're in, hover your mouse over the Communities tab at the top of the screen and select Find a Community from the drop-down menu. This takes you to the first of several pages showing all of the communities that exist on the ITN.
Over the past few months two communities have really begun to show what can be achieved through communities. One is a public community, called MS Office and Learning Styles, and the other is a private community called Saltash.Net EPICT CPD. These communities each have a different focus.
The MS Office and Learning styles community is for sharing ideas and resources around using Microsoft Office in the classroom, in particular Microsoft OneNote. Contributors to this community are far ranging, such Dr Ole Lauridsen, whose research into technology and thinking skills can be accessed in the documents Learning Styles in PPT and OneNote - Learning Styles. (If you've ever wondered about how the use of colours in PowerPoint impacts attention span, this community has a document that explains all. Believe me the results are amazing!) Mike Tholfsen, who works on the development team for OneNote, has also joined this community and contributed a wealth of resources on using this marvellous application in schools.
Although the second example is a private community, the nature of what Saltash.Net Community School are wanting to achieve means that if you request to join their community, they will probably let you. The school uses their community as an organisational tool for their teachers to share ideas and support each other in the school’s goal of achieving EPICT status. The community contains ideas for virtual classroom tours and the activities that school is undertaking. If your school is thinking of developing some form of whole school professional development, then this community is an ideal place to start.
Creating a community is really easy, as I described in this earlier post. But before you create a community, think about what it will contain and who you're trying to reach. It is also a good idea to have resources ready to populate your community with. You will from time-to-time need to motivate your community by adding new resources, to spark new discussions and activity. It is worthwhile to consider ‘advertising’ your community through email or blogs, but you can only do this effectively if there are already resources in your community that you can point people to.
If you have community that you would like me to blog about, feel free to get in touch.
*Note: If this is your first time accessing the Innovative Teachers Network, you will not be able to access the VCT directly from this link. You'll need to go to http://uk.innovativeteachers.com and register to create a username and password for the site. Then click the link above (where you'll be prompted for your username and password) to get to the VCT.