A funny thing happened on the way to the forum…

Jan 23, 2006 by

This weekend I was forced to do something that I’ve been dreading since creating the web site last year. In response to the increasingly annoying posts and messages from spammers I “locked down” the forum by turning off the ability to post as a guest. Don’t fret forum users, the forum is still there, ready for your reading, but it’s now necessary to be logged in as a registered user in order to post. What’s the big deal you might ask? In order to encourage the free flow of ideas and resources without the hassle of signing up for yet another web service, I had hoped to keep the forum completely open to unregistered users and the general public. Since many members of the general public can’t seem to be trusted in keeping their Texas-Hold’em and Cialis spam links to themselves, I’ve closed the forum to unregistered users in order to stop unsolicited, and in many cases inappropriate, posts.

That having been done, I realized that I hadn’t yet dedicated a post to the use of the forum. A funny feeling overwhelmed me as I began to type. I grew excited, and optimistic. I was overcome with that energy and confidence you gain after walking out of a fantastic conference, your head swimming with new ideas to take back to your classroom. I had to write about the forum, and hopefully pass some energy on to the readers that have yet to join the discussion. If you are one of the 30+ people that subscribe to the feed via e-mail, or one of the dozens that subscribe via Bloglines or some other RSS aggregator, please take a few moments and browse the forum. If you find something intriguing feel free to sign up and add a comment. Or better yet, use the upload feature to upload lesson plans, ideas, or files you want to share with others (it’s free). It provides you with a link to the file, which you can copy and paste into any forum message, providing us with examples of work you’ve done with students, lesson ideas you’ve developed and want to share, or provide templates to use in other classrooms (really great for spreadsheets and Word templates). Toss out some ideas, join a discussion in progress, ask questions, and join us in taking ownership of technology in education. We look everyday for ways in which our students can take ownership over their learning, in hope that it will help them connect with the material, build their scaffolds higher and stronger, and provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. Educators are doing the same here, and hopefully that feeling will grow.

As the number of hits on the website continues to increase each month (last month we had over 28,000 hits), the amount of people browsing and using the forum continues to grow as well. I’m excited, because it means something is working; something is clicking. Educators are exploring the resources, reading the thoughts of other teachers in the field, and hopefully enhancing the education of their students. And that’s with only 25 registered members! Imagine what we could accomplish if more teachers posted, shared, and discovered. Even signing up just to post one site could mean the difference between a classroom struggling to understand a concept, and that same group of students exploring the site, comprehending the concept, and building their own foundation of understanding. The hard work that the moderators have put in thus far is starting to pay off. We have an excellent foundation of resources, tools, and knowledge amongst us, and sharing only makes that foundation stronger. Now that I’ve shut out the spammers, come join us, help us create something unique, something useful, and something that’s ours.

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2 Comments

  1. Tom

    Ben- That’s amazing. I didn’t realize you were getting that kind of traffic. I am impressed! No wonder the spammers are flocking. Sad to have to lock it down but I have to admit I was amazed the one day I forgot to log in and posted. I don’t think I’ve run into any other open forums in a long while.

    It would be nice if we could get more people contributing to the forum. You’ve created a great site and I think the tools are there teachers just have to decide to use them.

    It has always amazed me the sense of community and friendship that can develop through these tools. I know I’ve got people here who I can rely on and who share my interests. I just happen never to have seen or spoken to them which is kind of odd in the traditional sense.

    Keep up the good work and I’ll work on getting some more VA people involved.

  2. Ben

    I’m as astonished as you are Tom. While some of those hits are likely from search engine spiders and bots, it’s clear that there are an increasing number of people visiting the site. November saw 21,000 hits and this month has already seen 27,000 hits.

    Hopefully, having the forum restricted to just registered members won’t slow it down. Not that I’m too worried, as three new actual teachers just joined today (can’t wait to hear what TrekkieTeacher has to say being a bit of a sci-fi nut myself). I must admit, some of the more reliable and enjoyable friendships I’ve developed in the past few years have been with people that I only know online. Perhaps a convocation sometime in the future might be fun.

    Anything you can do to help “drum up” support is of course always welcome 🙂 I’ve recently been working some other boards that I frequent, and am starting to get ideas for a wiki-powered webquest project Todd and I had talked briefly about that should generate lots of fun interaction and intice people to participate.

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