Making connections across networks

I want to write a little bit more about the database I've put online for educators that want to collaborate directly with other classrooms.

I got the idea from interacting with teachers on ning. I've been
trying to contact as many teachers as possible through many networks and it dawned on me that I'm making connections that a lot of educators need but can't make on their own because they don't have the time. I also noticed that a database of these people doesn't exist anywhere yet. So, the database I've put up at is basically a service to connect teachers that don't belong to the same networks.

I think a lot of educators go to sites like ning's classroom 2.0
and stay for a while with relatively little connection to other networks. They end up talking and sharing ideas a lot, which is great, but it's rare for me to see teachers take off and really connect their classrooms together. I think this is because there are too few teachers to fill a relatively large demographic range. However, I might be wrong about that. I know of one project on classroom 2.0 where a group of educators have come together for the purpose of creating joint virtual field trips. The idea is to expose students to places that are otherwise unavailable, and to make those connections between classrooms. There may be many other projects like this that I'm unaware of.

I'm building the database by talking to university administrators,
direct email, local educators, college friends, and online networks and communities. This isn't a process educators have time to take on individually, so I think the value is pretty clear in creating the database and promoting those distant connections that are hard to make as individuals.

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Comment by Daniel Bassill on July 19, 2007 at 8:08am
Hi Jared, I think the database is a good idea. In the Program Locator section at you can see how I've created a searchable database, that people can use to find tutor/mentor programs, based on where they are, what age they serve, and what type of tutoring/mentoring they do.

At you can see how I'm beginning to map the the homework help links in the web site.

The web site links section is interactive, meaning people can rate the links, post comments, or submit new links. Thus, the work of building a quality database can be shared by users, rather than be the work of just one organization.

I think that this concept could apply to what you're doing or what others might do to collect information, map it, and use it to help good learning and social benefit programs be in more of the places where needed. I've done most of this with the help of volunteers and an inconsistent flow of donor dollars. I'd be happy to share ideas with you or others.
Comment by Jared on July 19, 2007 at 3:12pm
Since I'm not an educator I'm trying to stay away from talking about students or connecting students with teachers, or software for direct application in the classroom. So, my database is just for educators that want to get in touch with other educators. Specifically I'm trying to connect educators Internationally unless an educator specifies otherwise.

However, making connections across networks is a big deal for anyone that is trying to connect to people online and you do depend a lot on other people to get the word out. I've been spending a lot of time every day trying to get support for the idea. What is difficult is that the success of the project depnds on making international connections that are very hard to make. There are a lot of barriers between myself and any given educator in France, not least of which is a language barrier.

We should stay in touch. I'd be interested to share experiences with you.


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