This assigment has been a challenge. I’d never even heard of “communities of practice” until our recent ETC live session. Thankfully, I’ve had the link to Etienne Wenger‘s explanation and use it here as the basis for evaluating SimpleK12, The Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0 and for making my final selection.
The SimpleK12 Teacher Learning Community is packed with courses, live webinars, and an impressive list of presenters from diverse educational backgrounds and expertise. The Forum is organized into Recent Posts, Members Meet & Greet, General Education Discussions, and Help Section Discussions. SimpleK12 currently has 364,343 members.
I subscribed to this site last year to take advantage of their course and webinar offerings. It took a premium membership to have full access to the courses (there are 35 categories to choose from) and enabled me to document my learning with Certificates of Completion. Many school districts and independent schools accept in-service hours earned on SimpleK12 for re-certification.
The Educator’s PLN is a Ning, founded and maintained by Tom Whitby. It is a smaller community (approximately 15,000 members) well designed to encourage users new to participating in collaborative communities.
Simple navigation and a subdued color palette, provides a more reflective environment for viewing and contributing to the Ning. There’s a new feature since my last visit: the option to create and customize my own page with a selection of templates and color schemes much like those offered on other blogging sites.
Members posts articles, add videos, join groups, start discussions, and make blog posts. There is page for joining discussions on EdChat. The links on Twitter and Understanding PLNs improve help make sense of these tools and how to use them.
The home page welcomes viewers with an explanation of it’s purpose and links on how to get started in Classroom 2.0.
I reviewed the information, but the more I tried to navigate and take in all that appeared on each page, I grew increasingly overwhelmed. The site is packed with resources and connections. There are over 74,000 members. Yet, again it is the layout and navigation that turns me away. Perhaps at a later date I’ll be more receptive.
Back to where I started…
So I’m back to SimpleK12 as my primary community of practice. The interface is so easy, and the membership and content only continue to grow. I like what I see happening in the Forum. Undoubtedly, the layout makes it easy to follow discussion threads. Whereas before I was an observer and content consumer in SimpleK12, I now feel ready to actively engage.