You as group owners have Nick and my ears, in this group, any time you have suggestions for how we can help you increase participation in your group.
I have thought that maybe I expect too much from my teachers and our Thinkfinity Community. Some have shared items, but not on a consistent basis. I thought this was a good idea, but it has not been as popular as I thought when conceiving the idea. Maybe I could use some additional ideas like you are suggesting. I really wanted this to be an additional resource site to go with items available through Thinkfinity. I am not giving up though! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Please keep reading and responding to the discussions in this group, Tina. Your thoughts, even your frustrations are valuable. It is our collective efforts that are going to help all groups advance. Also, watch the Blog tab in the Blogger's Edge for more tips. Together we pull teachers together. I'll be looking more closely at your group and I hope others will too, because we can give each other specific suggestions as well as put out general ideas to each other.
We're still struggling with this question, but one thing that we have found that helps is to post a question and then have another staff person here submit a response as a model or to refresh the conversation if we haven't heard from our members in awhile. We're fortunate to have several people here who all support our groups. Of course, we also try to be supportive and answer questions as soon as we can.
We've also built the group as much for sharing ideas as resources, and we've found that the more current the issue (e.g. the Virginia textbook controversy awhile back) or universal (e.g. your summer reading list), the more responses we get. That may be obvious, but they're nice ways to get people talking and comfortable in the group.
I'm looking forward to hearing others' responses.
Naomi makes some good points. Her History Explorers team goes that next step to post a first response to a well-constructed discussion.
If you don't have a team supporting your efforts, try opening a discussion in your own group and then select Send as Email/Share with Member from the Actions menu and ask a carefully selected member of your group or who may be a global member of the community to share their thoughts. Reach out to different members and as you get to know the expertise of your group members, you will make good choices. Members like to feel their expertise and opinions are valued. This can work to build engagement and to reach out and gain new members.
Thanks for sharing your process, Naomi. All of you are group owners, and it is well worth you time to join a few groups that and watch what they do well or where they miss the point. This is a safe group (and secret) group to share even constructive criticism.
And since imitation is the highest form of flattery, no owner will begrudge you taking an idea from their group and building it into your own group. :-)
We must remember a simple business model. A product must satisfy a need.
There are so many social media options now that we must set ours apart from the others. Teachers are bombarded HOURLY with the next, greatest thing. We must make the Thinkfinity Community their lasting choice.
I recently worked with a group of student entrepreneurs and business leaders. The goal was to connect them so they could learn from and support each other. However, there is no way that I would advocate using Facebook to connect my students to "strangers". The Thinkfinity Community however has the strength of its filtering and monitoring. I know from first hand experience how fast and accurate the monitoring and filtering is. This sets the Community apart from so many of the others.
We need to beware of having too many groups. People are fickle and the tiniest nuisance will send them away. If they have to hunt for the proper place to post something or if they have trouble finding something that they saw yesterday, they will simply move on. I know and you know how to do it. We must continue to explain searching and tagging and how they make life easier.
My final approach is to attempt to explain how technology does not add to the work load, it reduces it. I then explain that there are many ways to accomplish "social networking" and there are many tools out there. Let's start with the Thinkfinity Community and see if it solves our problems. If not, we can move on. That's my hook. Once I get them started with the Community, they won't want to leave to learn something else.
West Virginia Department of Education
I think I see how you can help the members of Thinkfinity Community, Mark. In your blogs, if you can focus on searching and tagging and safety, each topic being fairly brief and in your witty writing style, we can keep members interested and excited about using the community.
You are right, most members will stay if they get comfortable in the Thinkfinity Community venue and become engaged. Finding a group where the members are welcoming new members and pointing them to spaces out and about the community will certainly help.
You are right too about the number of groups. Three community hosts are tasked with locating and recommending groups that need to be deleted due to inactivity or might be merged because the owners and members have similar interests. Merged groups can allow for owners to combine their efforts and increase their membership outreach. Ultimately, members must have a reason to come back...networking with experts, fresh content of interest, and that feeling of belonging.