First published July 2, 2008
We have been talking about building online communities around specific websites where educators can share their teaching experiences and resources. Yesterday, PBS Teachers took this concept to a whole new level when it unveiled a new online community that has the functionality of many of the popular social networking sites.
PBS Teachers Connect describes it this way:
“PBS Teachers Connect is an online community of teachers exchanging ideas, resources and instructional strategies on the integration of digital media and technology.”
In many ways it is a blueprint for what K-12 publishers can and should do to build vibrant, purpose-filled online communities. Here are some of the highlights:
At no cost, educators can search more than 3,000 standards-based classroom activities, lesson plans, interactive resources and other materials on the PBS Teachers Web site, then easily bookmark, annotate, share and manage their tagged content within the PBS Teachers Connect community. Many of the resources feature PBS’ award-winning programming and content, including on-demand streaming video from select PBS programs.
SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS
In recognition that most students now spend a part of each week participating in online social networks and teachers need to become more familiar with common social networking tools, PBS Teachers Connect will provide the tools for educators to create communities around a variety of special interest topics. Wikis, blogs and forums lead the way with five initial forums and blogs launched with initial threads to start the conversation.
PBS Teachers Connect has modeled their features and tool kit after many of the prominent non-education social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook so that users of these sites will feel right at home.
–a personalized homepage for each user
–enhanced user profiles
–a searchable database of resources and community members
–bookmarking tools and discussion threads
–by fall, private messaging, community feeds, friend feeds, online events, and a digital media gallery, will be available.
Well, because it is PBS, the site is free to registered users. In some sense the business model can be summarized as “doing well by doing good.” By marrying social networking functionality to their quality content, PBS Teachers Connect is hoping to touch more teachers and enliven more classrooms with new learning opportunities.
Because it is PBS, teachers who have been sitting on the sidelines about the value of online social networking will now be persuaded to join, to watch, and then to participate. Other education publishers can learn a lot from watching the launch of PBS Teachers Connect.
For more information on K-12 publishing and social media, read:
Full disclosure: The Teich Group writes a quarterly newsletter for alumni of PBS TeacherLine, an online professional development program.