Recently I attended a conference where we discussed collaborative tools. Many at the conference had never used a Ning, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Diigo, or other Social Networking site.

The group was attempting to collaborate online after the conference. I listened to ideas on how collaboration should happen and/or what the best method should be. The conference leaders finally decided that they should use a list serve to share the information. Their reasoning was that such a tool would benefit all teachers. Every attended could subscribe to the list serve. Those who are subscribed would receive messages in their email. Anyone who had input would be able to comment to the list serve and everyone else could read their message.

I am subscribed to over two dozen list serves. Due to the quantity of list serves I am subscribed to, I have settings to get one combined message a day, or one a week. I find many become quite redundant in the information - for example: the same questions are asked once a week or more. I see the usefulness of all of these list serves. I, however, think collaboration could become better. Several list serves that I am subscribed to have not generated any messages in over a year. I know I am unable to grow professionally when sharing is not happening. On the other hand, several of these list serves have been very beneficial in providing pedagogy ideas for my teaching.

On the other hand, I am active on many social networking sites. Perhaps it is due to the "newness" of these sites that I find much more collaboration happening. For example, I generally receive at least 1 idea or useful web link from Twitter every 30 minutes.

I also like how several of these social networking sites allow the sharing of documents, videos, and pictures. I rarely receive notifications of such resources from any of my list serves. I think people using these list serves also use technology to enhance teaching.

Perhaps the list serve (started LONG ago in a galaxy far, far away) was the precursor of today's web 2.0 collaboration tools. I enjoyed reading @Twilliamson's blog post on the topic: "Debate over Listserves: Web 1.0 or 2.0?" I know that I personally am not unsubscribing from any of the list serves I currently use.

I'm interested in reading (or hearing) your thoughts on this subject. Bring on the use of Web 2.0 tools ... Please reply to this post using any format that you feel is appropriate.

Views: 21

Comment by Eric Biederbeck on July 26, 2009 at 7:16pm
My feeling on the matter is that the list serve certainly has its place and it works for you the way you use it. At the same time, you are using other sources (such as twitter). Now it seems to me that many of the other people at this recent conference don't use other sources. Personally I've found that many people don't feel any reason to change unless they are forced to. I think the leadership at the conference might have been better served by forcing the people to go outside their comfort zone and keep connected via something other than a list serve (like a Ning for instance). I feel this is much like in our classrooms with parent communication- if we don't make parents get info via your website or twitter (for the even bravier) than parents will not use those resources and instead will just rely on the old standby paper copy
Comment by Meg H on July 26, 2009 at 9:10pm
Disappointing. A listserv is technically not even a web 2.0 tool. It does serve its purpose, a broad distribution communications tool using the standard e-mail which we are all familiar and comfortable with, and its sole purpose is to inform. nothing web 2.0 or collaborative about it. But that's not really the issue here, it's one of accommodation at the risk of professional growth. As a profession we really need to start forcing the issue and not succumbing to the convenience of all - I realize such a remark may make me unpopular, but after reading a number of articles on the promise and reality of web 2.0 in education, it's painfully clear that we have become very good at intellectually addressing the issue while leeting the application of these "promising" practices fall way short of the reality.
Comment by Glen Westbroek on July 27, 2009 at 10:47am
Eric and Meg have made great comments. I was using Diigo today and was reminded how powerful that tool is for collaboration. There is no real good listserv method to share bookmarks, ideas on what is read, or links quite like social bookmarking sites provide.


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