Affinity Space Reflection
My experience with my affinity space, Teachers.net, continues to be a roller coaster of enjoyment and disappointment. Regretfully, this reflection dwells more within the latter. After exploring and experimenting with the chat boards over the last few weeks, I decided it was time to move beyond the discussions and see what else that site had to offer. Weeks ago, upon first looks, there appeared to be a plethora of resources and information. This notion was dashed upon digging deeper. Although the site is constructed with the ideal of providing a holistic platform for all teacher resources, broken links, inability for detailed searches and lack of depth severely hinder the usefulness of the site.
Although there is a considerable archive of lesson plans, 4687 in fact, the search parameters are limited to one: either grade level or content level. It is not difficult to see the predicament this creates. In defense of Teachers.net though, they did make it incredibly easy to share original content with other members by utilizing clear links and forms for submitting new content.
An additional flaw is content areas with broken links. These are primarily in relationship to the live chat boards. In addition to the broken links, there are no participants, so it is a bit of a moot point anyways. This ties in closely with an aforementioned concern dealing with lack of participation. After more closely scrutinizing different message boards, it appears there are only 250 to 350 participants at most in the most heavily trafficked boards and some groups as few as 45. Even with the more popular groups, there is still a disturbing lack of participation on many posts with the most deeply analyzed posts only chalking up 5 to 6 responses. The discussion boards are missing the key element of discussion.
Unlike many other affinity spaces, there is no hierarchy based on number of posts, likes, etc. Everyone is equal, with no motivation to post other than goodwill and the desire to participate in a teacher community. Despite my strong objections to motivating people to post comments through status achievement, perhaps this approach would be successful with Teachers.net.