The success of sites like Teachers Network are dependent upon the passion and dedication of their members. Our job is the design, build, and maintenance of an enticing, collaborative infrastructure that allows us all to get more done, work together better and share information between ourselves. Aside from the nuts and bolts that go into this, we need help from members to build and manage the content, the management of interpersonal issues that naturally come up (moderators) and subject area experts.
The site and policies are designed for total transparency. Contributors are visible for the work they do and contributions they make. As we grow, site usage will continue to be monitored and adjustments made where necessary. This process will be done hand in hand with the feedback from members and contributors.
What Is Teachers Network?
Our mission is to help teachers, schools and students work together. We provide targeted courses and materials, teachers and training. We are now designing an Electronics and Computer Science (ECE) curriculum for students (aged 4 through adult). Some of these courses are available now with the rest expected by the end of 2021. Low-cost student kits will be available to go along with these courses. These kits combined with Teachers Network online network resources facilitate more hands-on learning. Online classes and access to a new Teachers Network Learning Management System (LMS) is planned for 2022.
Teachers Network membership comes with many benefits. Benefits include free access to all course curriculum, collaboration tools, social networking and public resources. Members can upload and share documents, audio, video, pictures and discuss any topics of interest through groups, their individual member areas, and public forums. Members and group administrators control privacy for content they create or manage in their respective areas.
Our main focus through 2021 is completing the Electronics and Computer Science curriculum. We have started with this area for two reasons. These are some of the fastest growing areas in education. They also happen to be the areas where we have our core competencies. What we are building for these first courses are applicable to other subject material. As no single organization has expertise in all areas of education we are always looking for experts in other areas to expand what can be offered here.
Course and Curriculum Development
Teachers Network designs and makes available courses in several subject areas. We are interested in working with partners to also make available quality non-Teachers Network designed courses. This is a new area for Teachers Network with the first to roll out being the Electronics and Computer Engineering (ECE) curriculum. These are courses for students aged 4 through adult. The main focus is providing comprehensive training for pre-University level students. The first few courses are complete and the rest are expected to be ready by the end of 2021. This includes student kits needed for the home lab work. Most courses will eventually be offered as online alternatives either directly or through our education partners.
We are looking for education partners to expand the courses available. If you have existing courses or are designing new ones that you would like to make available, please get in touch with us. We are looking for partners to explore new opportunities with so let us know how you would like to work together. This level of cooperation is expected to expand in 2021 with the integration of these courses into the Teachers Network LMS and online payment solutions. This will make available an online training platform for teachers to teach either site hosted courses or their own. Teachers Network will take care of the platform technical issues as well as providing convenient payment solutions for independent teachers.
How Else Can We Work Together?
Teachers Network combines many social and collaborative features together into a single integrated environment. Each area has its own special needs but most need some combination of content authoring, moderation, and available subject area expertise. The areas below offer a brief introduction to some of the different parts of the site and the challenges they represent. This is not a complete list, and we suspect this will be somewhat of a moving target as we grow. Look at this as a starting point to see how what we are building can help you. We’re here to help, but need your feedback and assistance to make it truly useful and successful.
In addition to the areas of course and curriculum development, we are looking for partners to help in the following areas:
- Subject Area Experts and Moderators
- Site Wide Administration
- Forum Moderation
- Group Moderation
- Upload / Download Monitoring and Moderation
- New Web Tools (CSS)
Subject Area Experts and Moderators
A lot has been written on how to get along and what type of content to avoid. What we need here however is to make sure that the content we make available is to the best of our ability accurate and truthful. A quick review of your favorite Facebook groups should demonstrate rather quickly the huge amount of inaccurate and totally uneducated rubbish that is published as fact all the time. We need to work together to create an environment rich with reliable, factual, and helpful information. A good starting point is with objective subject area experts moderating their areas of expertise. Personal biases and political posturing must be left at the door (there are other platforms for this).
We also need subject area experts for the evaluation of current and future courses presented here. The Teachers Network developed courses we believe to be comprehensive, complete and accurate. Mistakes are made though and we’re sure that over time our courses will continue to get better with community involvement. For courses outside our direct fields of expertise we really need outside reviewers to make sure the quality of what we offer remains high. Subject area experts are also anticipated to be needed once we start online classes as we will need to provide qualified and professional evaluation of teachers who are promoted here.
Site Wide Administration
Most site administration is intended to make sure that members don’t stray from the Terms of Service. These terms, while articulated in legalese by necessity, are intended to be quite simple. The intent is to maintain a friendly, family oriented site free of undesirable content (porn, hate, fake news, spam, fraud, etc) to maintain a pleasant and efficient environment. A few areas that need to be monitored include member spaces, forums and galleries. At the moment we perform spot checks from time to time, but do not actively monitor all content. At the same time we strive for a safe and friendly environment, we must also respect member privacy. This can be a fine line if it is determined a member is in violation of the terms of service and/or involved in illegal activities. Protecting the safety of our members is always our top priority.
Instead of actively policing all site content we rely upon spot checks and notifications from members when they see something that appears to be improper. Other than the areas mentioned above it is not our place to censor any postings if at all possible. It is the responsibility of all members to properly maintain their own member area, and the responsibility of group admins to make sure their groups are run properly.
Discussion forums (sometimes referred to as message boards) are online areas where people hold conversations and communicate at their leisure. They are sorted by category and topic and contain discussions which are read and replied to by other members. Teachers Network has integrated discussion forums into all member spaces, groups and the system forums. Each forum can be run by separate moderators. Public forums are visible to all members and are moderated by the site administrator. Member and group forums are run by the member or group administrator respectively. Moderators filter what content is appropriate for their forums and set up access permissions. For instance class groups may want to be set to private access where only the group members can see and contribute. Different classes may have different policies on what they consider appropriate content and behavior.
Groups are special spaces made up of one or more members. They have their own private discussion forums, galleries, and document storage areas. Group members write and publish content, store and share files and other media among themselves. They are used for special interest groups, classes, and other situations where members want to work together. Access is controlled by the group administrator(s) and can be either public (everyone can join and see), private (the group is visible but content can only be seen by members), and hidden (same as private but not listed in the site group lists).
Groups can only be created by the site administrator. The requirements for new groups are that they have a clearly defined focus with some connection to education, and that an active member will take responsibility for the administration of the group. Public groups undergo spot checks from time to time however we try to stay away for active policing of private and hidden groups. The exception to the later is if we receive complaints about how they are run or inappropriate content.
The download area provides downloadable resources for the public. There is not much here yet and has not received as much attention as it should. In time more structure will be put in place in a way that allows for multiple independent administrators to watch over it. In the meantime if you have content that you would like to make available please let us know.
CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a language or set of rules for describing the look and formatting of web content. These are tools that advanced content writers use to make their published content more presentable. For more information on CSS see the How-To Guides Working With Images and Teachers Network CSS Style Reference. The available styles should cover most member needs but there may be times when more sophisticated styles are needed. If you need features that are not available, or if you have styles you would like to contribute please let us know.
We are always looking for new ways to better work together and how to better tune the services we are already offering. Any and all suggestions on how we can improve our services are most welcome. We’re also always looking for people interested in working with us on testing of possible new features. Tell us how you’d like to help or contribute!
Other Useful How-To Guides
- How-To Guide: Using The Site Editor
- How-To Guide: Blogging
- How-To Guide: Galleries
- How-To Guide: Groups
- How-To Guide: Forums
- How-To Guide: Document System
- How-To Guide: File Storage System
- How-To Guide: Setting Up A Member Home Page
- How-To Guide: Profile and Content Guidelines
- How-To Guide: User Account Settings