Crowd Wise 10: What to read next

Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are 
the product of disagreement and contest, 
not consensus or compromise.
James Surowiecki



Where can we find research and more information about working in e-communities?  Are there any courses you can take online or in person? 

Have you read a great book or can you recommend a helpful website or ebook helpful to those new at creating e-communities?

Best,
Karenne

This posting is the final part of the series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

Crowd Wise 9: On the dirty subject of money

"Dogs have no money. Isn't that amazing? 
They're broke their entire lives. 
But they get through. 
You know why dogs have no money?  
No Pockets." 
Jerry Seinfeld


I remember tweeting a while back that I pay to have the ads on my online platform (with students) removed and the response I got back was "I'd rather find something for free."



Now, I don't pay for the community where I work with other teacher-bloggers - I see it as a place where we're all in the same boat together, however, my student community is part of my job where naturally, I earn a salary therefore I'm actually quite happy to pay for it (it makes my work better).

I tend to think if the software developers and companies who produce these platforms never ever earn any money for their time, energy and creativity then eventually they'll be forced to shut up shop.

Yet... most people tend to agree with my co-tweeter, why?

Best,
Karenne


This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

Crowd Wise 8: Working with Learners vs Working with Teachers


Educational e-communities can contain groups of students, groups of learners or both.  In your experience which is easier or more comfortable?

Are the activities the same?  Why/why not?

What are some of the differences you've noticed in ratio of participation, collaboration and communication?

Best,
Karenne

Crowd Wise 7: Building the team

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. 
Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." 
Margaret Mead

Throughout the world we can see - in towns, cities, countries and companies that to create anything of any real value takes much more than one mind and one pair of hands.  We know, intuitively, that the many are hundreds of times smarter than the few.  

But is it easy to find others to collaborate with? 

And once we've found them, how do we transfer off-line team-building skills into an online environment?


Are there specific activities which we can use to help build strong groups which actively work together towards a common goal?

Are you and your e-community working on a collaborative project right now?  What are you doing? How did you find or make the right people to adopt your project and take on important responsibilities?

Best,
Karenne

This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

Crowd Wise 6: Threats to e-communities

He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; 
and if he was really evil at heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march 
from his home; and if he would not really have rather stayed there in peace.
J.R.R. Tolkein


Every community has its darker side and the virtual world contains its seedier side too.  Sometimes they can become even more emotionally challenging, due to the anonymity of parties involved.   These are just a handful of the things that may crop up when you run or participate in an e-community - knowing about them helps you to deal with them so I've listed a few below:


The Door-to-Door Salesman
Sole purpose for joining an e-community is to advertise pharmaceutical products, commercial services and generally talk about what they have on offer and only what they have on offer.

Will directly spam your members and generally make a real pest of themselves.


The Troll
Primary purpose for joining an e-community is in order to spread their self-hate on to others.  Will start fights.  Highly difficult to recognize - not all argumentors throw flames and most debators are not trolls.

It's also important to note that conflicting opinions within communities often help members bind better together!


The Cold-Shoulder
Moderators who don't understand the psychology behind the actions of those who are brave enough to add to a discussion, for the first time,  ignore ego-boo which in turn stops other members who were not brave enough to yet, from adding anything further: collaboration dies.


The Pirate
Sole purpose for joining an e-community is to steal content and ideas for their own commercial ventures.  Will trawl through your archives until they find what they want, copy/steal it and obviously not attribute this work appropriately.


The Kidnapper
Sole purpose for joining an e-community is in order to find new members for their own e-community.  Will spend time getting to know your members and then spam the core with invitation links:  often convincing them to take on moderator positions etc within the other community.  


The Predator
Sole purpose for joining an e-community is for sexual purposes.  Will seek out your young, principally female members, and spam them with invitations to connect outside the virtual world.  Sometimes only mildly irritating -at other times highly dangerous, especially if you're working online with young children.


The Drop-Out Leader
Gives up on his or her community before allowing it to reach critical mass.


The Lost Leader
Primary purpose of starting an e-community was out of self-love.  Tires of the work involved and abandons his or her tribe leaving members unsure of future direction and lost.




If you run or participate in an educational community, have you had any experience with the above?   How did you deal?

Have I missed any other threats?


Best,
Karenne


This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

Truthtelling and the global EFL teacher

Catching up on current articles in the blogosphere I came across two which were very similar and I had a strong reaction as I flashed back to a question I was asked twice in my life and the consequences of telling the truth and not telling the truth.  

I used to teach teens and I really, really, miss them - of all the types of students I've ever had over the years these were my absolute favorite: teens push you, challenge you to rethink and find new ways to make their lessons interesting -  their music, their interests becomes yours as you  hunt for ways to make the class content all about them...

Anyhoo, I've made a vow to keep my posts short so on to my stories:


Hong Kong
Me: 27 years old
Student: 16 years old.

She corners me as I'm leaving the classroom.

"Miss Karenne, can I ask you a question?"
The Filipina cleaning lady was coming into the room at the same time.  She glances at her.
"In private?"
I look at the cleaning lady and she walks back out.

"Yes, Jenny, what is it?"
"How do you stop yourself from getting pregnant?"

Instant panic set in but I sat down.   I looked at her eyes - saw the worry, the fear and the bravery in them - knew that it took guts to wait for me like this and knew that it was not easy to ask a grown-up such a grown-up question.

I told her.

The next day I was called into the headmistress' office and immediately fired.  The cleaning lady hadn't completely left and had reported me.   It was a good job which paid well and I was gutted: stupid me for telling the truth. Luckily, very soon after that I got an even better job being Director running a charity.



Ecuador
Me: 32 years old
Student: 16 years old

They cornered me as I was leaving.

Angie and her sister,  two of my absolute favourites but I was always careful not to let this show.

"Karenne, if someone wants to sleep with their boyfriend, what do you do to not get pregnant?"

Angie was taking part in our year-long cultural exchange program and would be leaving for the US in six weeks.  I had heard that partners of these teens often put a lot of pressure on them to prove that their love, confirm their relationships were serious...

"Don't they teach this at school?"

Angie's sister rolled her eyes.   It was a dumb question, I knew that when they weren't with me learning English, they were taught by nuns.

"Oh girls, I'm so sorry - I think you need to ask your mother that question."
 I'd learned my lesson and I didn't want to lose my job.

"NO - my father would kill me.  I have to be a virgin - please.  My boyfriend, he doesn't want to use a..."

Her voice trailed off, there were tears in her eyes.  I saw the same bravery I saw in Hong Kong.   I remembered the consequences of crossing the cultural border of what is deemed appropriate information for a 16 year old.

"Sorry, Angie, I can't tell you.  I'm so sorry."


Five months later Angie was sent back from Colorado.

A brilliant, A+ student on a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity was sent home because she was pregnant.


A job is a job and that is easily replaceable. 

The truth is the truth and that is never replaceable.




I have never forgotten those lessons.  Has anything similar ever happened to you?

As ambassadors, as global rovers trotting throughout this planet we TEFL teachers will be faced with questions and cultures which easily clash.

We teach real people not machines - sometimes they will come to us with  problems they want honest opinions on/ situations they want to receive real solutions for - they look for real, alternative ears to listen to their thoughts and they want real voices to answer them.


History has been littered by those who are afraid of speaking out honestly: small crimes committed and world-changing evil perpetuated, allowed even, all because people protect themselves and don't express their yeys and nays.

Who are you - who will you be?

Best,
Karenne
*names and some locations changed to protect the innocent.

The two posts which inspired this piece:
Sometimes Less is More by Anita Kwiatkowska
How open is too open? by Eisensei

What's in the News?

"Pick a card, any card.

Share with us what you heard in the news today /this week/ this month..."





"Interesting!  I didn't hear about that, did you Frank?"

"No way!"

"He said what?  Anna, what do you think about people who do that sort of thing?"

"Uh huh, I agree."

"So what happened next- oh, the word you need for that is prejudice - preh.djew.dis - golly! Oh yes, Stefan, do write it down, it's spelt p-r-e... that is terrible and then what did they do?"

"Well done.  That was a very, very good story.  Thanks for sharing it with us, I hadn't followed the story myself... oh yes, you can put the card back on the table, yes face-up's fine.   By the way, Stefan, great grammar, I didn't hear you make more than one or two mistakes - perhaps you can work on your past perfect when you get home this evening - uh, huh, use link to the games I gave you last week.

So, who wants to go next?  Jakob?

Pick a card, any card..."


"Tiger, really - back, is he?  Funny."

~ ~


Best,
Karenne

p.s. Teaching dogme-style (or in any other communicative way) means that you put the student at the center of your classroom, or... let me see if I can say this in other words - Der Weg ist das Ziel (the journey is the reward) and not getting to page 65 by next Tuesday :-).  

It means your work is in the classroom, not before or after - but intensely paying attention to your students in TT focused listening; it means you encourage them and help make sure that the words that need to come out come out.

It means they spend most of the class time simply speaking.

Brains = Filing Cabinets or QuadPro Hard Drives?

Oh, naming this post that was just a ploy to get you to come here and listen to me muse about linguistics a little...

Thing is, right, this morning when I jumped into the taxi and gave him instructions to my home, I mixed up nahe with cerca.

I did that all weekend while I was in Spain...  

Trying to finding my way back to the Spanish I used to speak quite fluently (5 years now since it was part of daily life) was not so so hard... but then in mid-flow, for no reason, out jumped German:  filler words, prepositions - that sort of thing, words that had no business taking part in my conversation.  

And when reflecting on this annoying trait, I remembered how when I first got back to Britain after years and years in Asia I kept on slipping in Chinese whenever I got into taxis... despite the fact I didn't learn much Cantonese when living in Hong Kong.

Fellow ELT globetrotter, have you noticed that sort of thing happening to you too or is it just my funky brain?

Why does this happen?   

Do we store 2nd/3rd/4th languages within the same drawer in its gigantic filing cabinet?   Anyone know?



How can we help our students - those in the same boat obviously - how do we cut out the cross-circuitry and speed up the processing of lexical units?

Best,
Karenne

Crowd Wise 5c: Why do people join e-communities?

An ant can carry a leaf
but a colony of ants can carry an elephant.
African proverb

From the dawn of time, or better said, from the dawns of civilization we divvied ourselves up and created tribes.  We roamed in groups across vast plains, colonized nations overseas and settled down in towns only to then construct cities.  We joined football clubs and today we join e-communities.



But why?

What is this driving force, this need which makes us want to team together - aren't we all innately selfish beings with the primary concerns of home, food, shelter and our own genetic prolongation?

Why do some of us lead and others choose to do a Ruth, to make other people our people, other traditions our traditions?   Why do we protect, admonish, support, love, help, reject, compete with, collaborate with, fight with, laugh with...

people that we do not even know?

Share with me your thoughts, musings or opinions on this issue.

Best,
Karenne


This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

Crowd Wise 5b: My culture, your culture, our culture

People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what – and who – we are not. 

We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings.   Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where people are becoming more and more closely interconnected.  
Kofi Annan



Cultural differences have been noted in groups of monkeys which live in different regions so it's hardly surprising to note culture becoming an issue within e-communities.

Some of this might have something to do with rules set or not set right from the outset, sometimes it has a lot to do with recognition and egoboo, sometimes it is made up of professional  partnerships and other times competition and jealousies.    Sometimes it springs directly out of the leader's own approach to leadership and his reasons for creating the group in the first place.

What happens when the tribes' needs change?    What does a community do when it realizes it has leaders who are autocratic  or it begins to suspect that shady politics, raw ego or financial gain may be in the background of every message sent?   

What can a community do when its leader feeds off its members by asking for more and more and never really giving back?  How does it butt in and interrupt, asking for a new tone?

Why are some e-groups nothing more than deserted ghost-towns, others a warm safe nest and still others warring battlefields made up of various splintered tribes?  

When working with a global group of human individuals, be it with teachers or students, can culture online ever be agreed upon and defined?

Best,
Karenne


This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url: http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

ELT Blogosphere & Twitterverse, Summary Feb 2010

Top posts on Kalinago English in February
Reminder: 
ELT Carnival of Lessons, deadline March 21st, 2010


And the stuff I really enjoyed reading last month....


Teaching English and other ELT Related Issues


    Thought-provoking, challenging and interesting posts on teaching from out there in the Blogosphere



    Lessons, Tips and Ideas for the classroom

      Articles and Links to Share with our Learners

        Technology Related News, Issues and Tips

        Social Media


          New!!! ELT-Bloggers to check out


          Useful links related to this posting:
          Teacher Reboot Camp, What did they Tweet
          Larry Ferlazzo, Monthly Best Twee


          Best,
          Karenne

          Crowd Wise 5a: R u U online?

          I first started asking this question long before I entered the world of the web2.0.



          It was based on what I'd heard about second-life, way before I even knew teachers taught there, and I wondered if a person could 'exist' in 3D, as an Avatar, ultimately more beautiful and dynamic than their real selves and still maintain their personal sense of identity.   I never really did get into second life, in the end, I s'pose because that question never really went away for me.

          Some people believe personality is static, something you're born with and that's that: neither changing nor evolving, not influenced by circumstances or location, no matter where you are or what you are doing.   Others believe that we are constantly and consistently changing in order to adapt to new environments. 

          I'm not sure what I believe.

          Having traveled all over the world and been part of so many different kinds of societies and real life communities I would be lying if I didn't say that I have witnessed my phraseology, body-language, accents and mannerisms change many times - adapting to fit- and it was hardly surprising to see me evolving once I embraced the culture of the web2.0.

          Unquestionably, I'm bolder and friendlier online than I am in person.

          Much more likely to approach strangers and say hey and much more likely to "friend" and randomly chat to others than I do in real-life.  In real-life, if we want to be honest here, unless I am in the classroom then I'm the one sitting nursing her glass of wine in the back of the room, on the comfy sofa and the one who goes back to her hotel room early while others sit around to drink 'til dawn - 

          Online I tend not to lurk.

          And yet...

          Hmm...

          In life, I love introducing like-people to like-people, adore the thrill of finding someone else in this big fat world who thinks similar to the way I do about a certain subject and boy do I get a kick out of that in my online life. In real life, I delight in having a good philosophical debate, even arguments- a toss of ideas which lead to me learning something brand new / gleaning a different perspective on an issue I might have once felt passionately the opposite about... and of course, we won't even begin to go into giggles I get out of taking the p* out of certain members of the twitterverse, just for the.. the fun of it.

          In life, I take risks: try out things which are way too hard for me to really do (like climbing into volcanoes, like riding elephants, like swimming in shark-filled seas)  because to be honest,  I don't really care that much about the consequences...  I just don't really take my self all that seriously (says she the blogger reflecting on her serious thoughts on-line).

          Am I different?

          Dunno. Dunno.

          As above all else, most importantly, in my real-life I don't suffer fools gladly and most surely do not online either.   So how is it that certain things change in virtual realities and other things become more pronouncedly the same?  Why those things?

          What do you think?
           
          Are you... U when u're online?

          Best,
          Karenne


          This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  http://kalinago.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/crowd-wise  into your reader.  

          Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!
           

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