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John Simkin

Progress Report

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In some respects the International Educational Forum has been a great success. In just over six months it has obtained 956 members and over 9,100 posts have been made. We have members from at least 36 countries (it is obviously more than that but I can only work this out from the people who have posted their biographies). This includes educators from every continent. All told, 589 people have made one or more postings.

However, the situation is not as good as it looks. The majority of members have only made one or two postings. We are also very dependent on a few committed members. For example, only 20 people have made more than a 100 postings. (John Simkin, Andy Walker, Graham Davies, Wim Dankbaar, Marco Keone, Derek McMillan, Larry Peters, David Richardson, Richard Jones-Nerzic, Jack White, Dalibor Svoboda, Larry Hancock, Jean Walker, Andrew Moore, Ulrike Schuh-Fricke, James Richards, Maggie Jarvis, Paul Kerrigan, Lee Forman and Anders MacGregor-Thunell.) This list shows that the activists come from several different countries: UK (5), USA (5), Sweden (3) Australia (2), Netherlands (2), France (1) and Germany (1).

A close look at the list reveals another one of our problems. These people tend to post in one or two sections of the forum. It is of course these sections that have been a great success: ICT, History, Politics, English, E-Learning, Debates in Education, JFK, etc.

I am keen to make another effort to see if we can really develop an international forum that provides a real service to all teachers. To do that it will be necessary to follow the example of the more successful sections.

The formula for success seems to include regular postings that are likely to stimulate debate. One way you can help this happen is to PM other members about the posting you have made. This is the way I got the JFK going. It started with only five regular posters. However, when visitors saw that contributions created a response, they were willing to join and post their comments. There are now more individual posters in the JFK section than in any other area of the forum. The message from this is that each section of the forum needs at least four of five members willing to start threads and to reply to comments made by others. Do all administrators have this level of support? Is there any chance of finding others from your subject area who will join you on the forum.

Another reason why the JFK forum has been so successful is that I have given it a link from all the pages of my Assassination of JFK website. Students and researchers have got used to visiting the forum to read what has been posted. They also use the forum to take me to task for what I have written. Is it possible for you to link up part of your website to the forum?

For example, a group of history teachers have joined forces to provide a new service for their visitors. We have formed a series of panels in order to answer student questions on history. Although little time has been spent on promoting this service, it has already created quite a bit of interest. Is it possible that you could do something similar in your subject area?

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=179

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