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John Simkin

Virtual School Website

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In your posting about Virtual school did you demonstrate a hypersensitiveness one seldom sees.

On the other hand it’s not the first time you translate postings as an attack against you and your deeds. Why it is so? Do you feel that you are always right and therefore fight vigorously to keep supposed attackers at bay?

Contrary to your believe I really did have Virtual school in my thoughts when I wrote my posting. True the situating inside History department mirrored the situation inside Virtual school in the same way as the situation inside the whole Virtual school mirrored back into History department.

1. Generally speaking there were a lot of people inside Virtual school who from time to time was unhappy for not being paid for the work done by them. You were one of them during the early days of Virtual school, let say from Stockholm inauguration meeting and until Helsinki meeting. You discussed this fact with me quite often. You basically conditioned your contributions with payments. One such debate did you, I and Vesa Viherva have in Helsinki, You wanted to be paid, me and Vesa didn’t bother with receiving money. Our line of arguments was tax situation in the Scandinavia. Participations on conferences were an acceptable reward for us two. It was not for you. I do remember how hard it was at that time to obtain material from.

On the other hand you became later more active taking adequate materials from your Spartacus site (Immigration project for example) and shared it with us. For this you should get BIG thanks. Also obtaining the new and interesting material with the help of “Ask the expert” was a big achievement for the CMS´s History Department. I already thank you for that at Education forum.

2. There were around 180 teachers inside various departments creating contents. There were huge amount of people without web site and doing very well as there must be people with web site doing not so well. What is wrong with this assumption?

Jan Wickleus at Civics, Clara Brandao at Geography to name a few without web site …

Something must be wrong from your point of view because you are attacking wildly when I mention this ……. Exactly for what should I apology?

In my posting I was generally questioning this aspect which was in an automatic matter repeated and thereafter assumed as the solution for raising amount of contributions in the later days of History department.

Personally I always felt that my own web site had the name “History department”.

There did I create following things:

- section “Articles on History teaching” where articles on ICT and education written by friends were published

- section “Library of links”

- section “Curricula” or “How the history is taught in other countries” and wrote one of the articles.

- section “Notices in brief” and solely posted short notices there from 1999 and until 2004

- section “Picture Gallery” and contributed to it

- wrote about Aviation history in Sweden for “Aviation project”

- section and content about “Olympic Games”

- section on “Multimedia”

- section on “An outline of History of Different countries”

Subsequently I also tried to secure at least some flow of contributions into the sections I initiated.

At the “new” CMS History Department I initiated section “Historical places around us” and started to contribute to it. My next contribution to this section is dealing with Stockholm Olympic stadium.

I did also worked with and translate a new article about “how history subject is taught in Czech republic” (yet unpublished).

Of course this is of no value today, but anyway …..

With arrival of Richard into our group things started to develop faster and for the better. His arrival meant transfusion for us all, old members of History department. We got two huge projects started and soon published at the site. You John changed too and became more active than before. It was great to se …….

3. Communities were neglected by very many departments which caused a deep sorrow inside management team I will guess. The management team was hoping that activities there would improve a statistic of activities done inside Virtual school thus giving us more funding. And you must agree that this was of a crucial importance! When reading yours

“All members joined Communities section and posted messages.” I’m startled. How can you possibly know this? When I was checking with “Heads” of a few departments all of them told me that they were not doing very much inside.

When visiting History community (What’s New?, Projects, Bulletin Board and General Issues sections) I can sum up this statistics:

One member = 33 postings, one member = 5 posting, one member = 1posting, one member = 1 posting, one member = 2 posting, one member = 1 posting,

When visiting our Debate forum at Community I can sum up this statistics:

Topic starters: one member 4 topics, one member = 1 topic, one member = 3 topics, one member = 0 topics, one member = 0 topics, one member = 0 topics.

Debate postings: one member = 1 posting, one member = 1posting, one member = 4 posting, one member = 18 posting, one member = 2 postings, one member = 3 postings,

Yes, all members joined Communities section and posted messages before they left. But isn’t it a rather poor result for almost three years of activities.

4. Olympic Games project: Olympic Games articles were written by me, checked by Anders and rewritten by me. Anders wrote his own version after that.

Olympic Games section contain a subsection “About Olympic Games”, a subsection ”Contributions” and also subsection “Suggestions on how to contribute” . Most of the published words were written and organised solely by me.

I choose to publish Anders article about Modern Olympic Games instead of mine in the end. Anders also promised to write a contribution about Barcelona Olympic of 1936.

Read your own words John from the meeting in Gothenburg:

“John explained the importance of the Olympic Games project to the Virtual School. All members of the department agreed to produce content and teaching activities for the project. It was agreed that some of these teaching activities would be based on material on existing websites. John also took responsibility for trying to persuade other teachers to donate material. A thread has been created in the discussion forum for this purpose.”

Anders was the only one who delivered what was promised. The Olympic Games project could be found at Old History department at:

http://vs.eun.org/eun.org2/eun/en/Celebrat...lang=en&ov=3315

This whole activity was published as required in good time before Olympic Games in Athens and I must say I’m very proud that History department created such a large contribution to the “flagship” of Virtual school in 2004.

I kept informing the members of the History department about the progress and final launch with posting at Education Forum.

What you John were doing with Olympic Games project in autumn 2004 after Olympic Games in Athens ended is a mystery for me ……

Why did you write about Baron Coubertin eight months after I wrote about him? His biography was already written and published …..

That you transferred (did you?) the whole Olympic project from old web site to the new one was a good deed though it was my task. I would have done it sooner or later like I transferred other material.

At the end …….. please give attention to the following thoughts:

During the sex years of your membership at History department you probably left behind 30 contributions? Or more? 50 maybe?

I didn’t count them I’m just guessing ….. What would your guess be?

During 14 months of its existens you wrote and posted 2 829 postings at Education Forum!

What kind of Virtual school would we have created during these six years if you have been half ….. no, 10%! …… as active at History department as you are at Education Forum??!!

The same of course apply to all of us, former Virtual school members giving our energy, time and intellectual capacity to Education Forum instead to History department during last 14 month.

After all it was amount of contributions and activities which kept Virtual school alive.

Like it or not Education Forum has been in the last 14 months a main grave digger of Virtual school, diverting effectively much of the contribution flow from a task we in the past promised to support and fight for.

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Like it or not Education Forum has been in the last 14 months a main grave digger of Virtual school, diverting effectively much of the contribution flow from a task we in the past promised to support and fight for.

Perhaps you could explain how you reach this absurd conclusion?

Becta funded the Education Forum for the Virtual School.

They then withdrew the backing probably because the decision had already been made to wind down the Virtual School.

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The idea of Virtual school was to fill its educational space with people willing to produce educational material and be part of educational debates. I personally always thought that the members of Virtual school should work inside it in the same way as journalists writing articles for their newspapers work. This seldom happened.

Who was it who did not produce these articles? I for one supplied several articles for publication. Unfortunately, many of these did not appear on the website. The reason for this is that until recently members did not have the power to upload material to the VS website. This was a common complaint from the early days of the VS. It took several years to rectify. When they did buy the necessary software to do this, it was of an appalling quality and was difficult to use. However, I did struggle on with this and I think you will find that the Olympic Games Project is the largest amount of original material put on the website. I have done this despite my ministry telling me that it was the responsibility of the head of department to do this.

Yes, Virtual school did have later a lot of members with their own web pages but as far as I remember many of these members kept on to develop their ownership and at the same time often decline when asked, to share at least a part of their content with Virtual school, with the apology that they were not been paid to do so.

This is completely untrue. I have been to every Virtual School History meeting and have never heard those with websites (Richard, Nico, Anders, Juan Carlos or myself) refuse to provide content without payment. In fact, in all cases they provided content without payment. I think you owe us all an apology.

Also participation at the debate forums created by Virtual school was rejected with the same apology  ….. “not being paid for” …….. !

Furthermore the Communities  (working places created by Virtual school) were neglected too. For what reasons do you think?

This is again untrue. All members joined the Communities section and posted messages. The problem was that these attempted at creating a debate ended in failure. There were several reasons for this.

(1) The software was lousy and posting messages was difficult compared to other forums.

(2) It was not easy for non-members to post in the Communities section. In fact, I do not remember any non-member doing this.

(3) As it was only members communicating with each other we found it easier to do via the joint email facility (something that did work quite well).

(4) Several of us were members of Andrew Field’s History Forum. This was a forum where we were willing to be active. For example, I started several debates on both the VC Communities and the History Forum. Whereas the posting on the VC site was always ignored, I got large numbers of responses on the History Forum. It was suggested that the Virtual School start up its own Forum that covered all curriculum subjects. You did not like that idea. However, when my ministry decided they would fund such a forum, Andy, Richard and myself went ahead and did it. It has been a great success.

Members of the History Department never insisted on payment for posting messages in the Communities section. Do you think they got paid for posting on the History Forum and the International Education Forum? Once again you owe us an apology for this libellous comment.

Until this day I cannot understand why the people with own web pages (which many of you argue was essential things in order to make Virtual school working) did contributed basically as little (or as much) and as unwillingly (or as willingly) as the teachers which didn’t have web pages.

And it was only amount of contributions (not ownership of one owns web page …….), that made Virtual school and which also in the end ended its activities!

You appear to be implying that people with websites contributed less than those without them. As Kjell and yourself were the only ones without websites I assume you are saying that you produced more than the rest of us. That is not the way I remember it.

It is true that there is probably a link between the number of page impressions the VS website received and its eventually end. I know my ministry were unhappy with the low number of page impressions. However, that is not surprising as the VS website had little to offer visitors. That was because of the limited amount of content and the poor communication software that was being used.

I asked Magnus about this problem. He provided me with the statistics concerning the website. Magnus pointed out that History was not a problem. In fact, it was the most popular of all the departments. The reason being was that people were arriving via member websites. The problem was that visitors rarely stayed very long when they arrived because they could not find enough content to make it worth their while.

The Virtual School was highly successful in creating friendships. Without it I would not have met people like Anders, Juan Carlos and Nico (I knew Richard from elsewhere and was responsible for bringing him into the VS). However, as an attempt to get people to collaborate via the VS website it was a failure. That of course did not stop members collaborating on other projects, such as the Ask an Expert and the E-HELP activities. These are bottom up projects. This is the true lesson of the Virtual School.

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In your posting about Virtual school did you demonstrate a hypersensitiveness one seldom sees.

On the other hand it’s not the first time you translate postings as an attack against you and your deeds. Why it is so?  Do you feel that you are always right and therefore fight vigorously to keep supposed attackers at bay?

Contrary to your believe I really did have Virtual school in my thoughts when I wrote my posting. True the situating inside History department mirrored the situation inside Virtual school in the same way as the situation inside the whole Virtual school mirrored back into History department.

1. Generally speaking there were a lot of people inside Virtual school who from time to time was unhappy for not being paid for the work done by them. You were one of them during the early days of Virtual school, let say from Stockholm inauguration meeting and until Helsinki meeting. You discussed this fact with me quite often. You basically conditioned your contributions with payments.  One such debate did you, I and Vesa Viherva have in Helsinki, You wanted to be paid, me and Vesa didn’t bother with receiving money. Our line of arguments was tax situation in the Scandinavia. Participations on conferences were an acceptable reward for us two. It was not for you. I do remember how hard it was at that time to obtain material from.

On the other hand you became later more active taking adequate materials from your Spartacus site (Immigration project for example) and shared it with us. For this you should get BIG thanks. Also obtaining the new and interesting material with the help of   “Ask the expert” was a big achievement for the CMS´s History Department. I already thank you for that at Education forum.

2. There were around 180 teachers inside various departments creating contents. There were huge amount of people without web site and doing very well as there must be people with web site doing not so well. What is wrong with this assumption?

Jan Wickleus at Civics, Clara Brandao at Geography to name a few without web site …

Something must be wrong from your point of view because you are attacking wildly when I mention this  ……. Exactly for what should I apology?

In my posting I was generally questioning this aspect which was in an automatic matter repeated and thereafter assumed as the solution for raising amount of contributions in the later days of History department.

Personally I always felt that my own web site had the name “History department”.

There did I create following things:

- section  “Articles on History teaching” where articles on ICT and education written by friends were published

- section “Library of links”

- section “Curricula” or “How the history is taught in other countries” and wrote one of the   articles. 

- section “Notices in brief” and solely posted short notices there from 1999 and until 2004 

- section “Picture Gallery” and contributed to it

- wrote about Aviation history in Sweden for “Aviation project”

- section and content about “Olympic Games”

- section on “Multimedia”

- section on “An outline of History of Different countries”

Subsequently I also tried to secure at least some flow of contributions into the sections I initiated.

At the “new” CMS History Department I initiated section “Historical places around us” and started to contribute to it. My next contribution to this section is dealing with Stockholm Olympic stadium.

I did also worked with and translate a new article about “how history subject is taught in Czech republic” (yet unpublished).

Of course this is of no value today, but anyway …..

With arrival of Richard into our group things started to develop faster and for the better. His arrival meant transfusion for us all, old members of History department. We got two huge projects started and soon published at the site. You John changed too and became more active than before. It was great to se …….

3. Communities were neglected by very many departments which caused a deep sorrow inside management team I will guess. The management team was hoping that activities there would improve a statistic of activities done inside Virtual school thus giving us more funding. And you must agree that this was of a crucial importance! When reading yours

“All members joined Communities section and posted messages.” I’m startled. How can you possibly know this? When I was checking with “Heads” of a few departments all of them told me that they were not doing very much inside.

When visiting History community (What’s New?, Projects, Bulletin Board and General Issues sections) I can sum up this statistics:

One member = 33 postings, one member = 5 posting, one member = 1posting, one member = 1 posting, one member = 2 posting, one member = 1 posting,

When visiting our Debate forum at Community I can sum up this statistics:

Topic starters: one member 4 topics, one member = 1 topic, one member =  3 topics, one member = 0 topics, one member = 0 topics, one member = 0 topics.

Debate postings: one member = 1 posting, one member = 1posting, one member = 4 posting, one member = 18 posting, one member = 2 postings, one member = 3 postings,

Yes, all members joined Communities section and posted messages before they left. But isn’t it a rather poor result for almost three years of activities.

4. Olympic Games project: Olympic Games articles were written by me, checked by Anders and rewritten by me. Anders wrote his own version after that.

Olympic Games section contain a subsection “About Olympic Games”, a subsection ”Contributions” and  also subsection  “Suggestions on how to contribute” . Most of the published words were written and organised solely by me.

I choose to publish Anders article about Modern Olympic Games instead of mine in the end. Anders also promised to write a contribution about Barcelona Olympic of 1936.

Read your own words John from the meeting in Gothenburg:

“John explained the importance of the Olympic Games project to the Virtual School. All members of the department agreed to produce content and teaching activities for the project. It was agreed that some of these teaching activities would be based on material on existing websites. John also took responsibility for trying to persuade other teachers to donate material. A thread has been created in the discussion forum for this purpose.”

Anders was the only one who delivered what was promised. The Olympic Games project could be found at Old History department at:

http://vs.eun.org/eun.org2/eun/en/Celebrat...lang=en&ov=3315

This whole activity was published as required in good time before Olympic Games in Athens and I must say I’m very proud that History department created such a large contribution to the “flagship” of Virtual school in 2004.

I kept informing the members of the History department about the progress and final launch with posting at Education Forum.

What you John were doing with Olympic Games project in autumn 2004 after Olympic Games in Athens ended is a mystery for me ……

Why did you write about Baron Coubertin eight months after I wrote about him? His biography was already written and published …..

That you transferred (did you?) the whole Olympic project from old web site to the new one was a good deed though it was my task. I would have done it sooner or later like I transferred other material.

At the end  …….. please give attention to the following thoughts:

During the sex years of your membership at History department you probably left behind 30 contributions? Or more?  50 maybe?

I didn’t count them I’m just guessing ….. What would your guess be?

During 14 months of its existens you wrote and posted 2 829 postings at Education Forum!

What kind of Virtual school would we have created during these six years if you have been half ….. no, 10%! …… as active at History department as you are at Education Forum??!!

The same of course apply to all of us, former Virtual school members giving our energy, time and intellectual capacity to Education Forum instead to History department during last 14 month.

After all it was amount of contributions and activities which kept Virtual school alive.

Like it or not Education Forum has been in the last 14 months a main grave digger of Virtual school, diverting effectively much of the contribution flow from a task we in the past promised to support and fight for.

I find it extraordinary that the Head of Department of the now defunct Virtual School History Department should choose to attack one of its most productive and inspirational members in such a way. Quite amazing also is the fact that this attack is delivered apparently without even a hint of embarrassment. I presume (I do not know) that HODs of the VS were charged with the responsibility of inspiring and leading teams of European teachers into collaborative projects and creative opportunities - quite rightly any successes must be seen as credit to Head of Department.

However along with this responsibility and its rewards must surely come also a degree of accountability when things go wrong.

It is easier of course when things do go wrong for managers to thrash around blaming everyone else but it is deeply undiginified and on the basis of my limited involvement of the personalities of the VS History Department entirely innappropriate in this case.

I also find it beyound my comprehension that Dalibor should choose to blame the success of the Education Forum (funded by Becta for the VS can I just restate) for the failure of the Virtual School. I also wonder how he will be able to marry this antagonism to what has been achieved here with its central role in the forthcoming E-Help project.

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Presumably, VS died because people didn't use it and the various ministries decided they weren't getting their money's worth, or have I misunderstood the situation?

I visited the VS site two or three times. As John said, I didn't find anything there that was either interesting or useful. My time is limited, and I'd rather spend my time at the History Teachers' Forum, at Juan Carlos' outstanding site, or here, than at VS which was very sparse in content and not easy for a computer-illiterate to navigate.

The demise of VS increases the importance of this site and of others like it. I have become increasingly concerned that this forum is increasingly dominated by JFK conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers. Some time ago, Andy suggested that all the JFK stuff could be shunted off into a separate section so that new visitors weren't confronted by a vast array of posts and topics, some of which are a little strange -- and I don't mean all of them, which are clearly the result of serious research. I'm not a new visitor, but I do sometimes find it daunting to have to trawl through maybe a hundred threads to find the two or three which don't relate to some sort of conspiracy theory...

I'm not saying that research into conspiracies (real or imagined) is in any way disreputable, or that it is not of interest to educators. I'm just saying that an imbalance has crept in which could, in the long term, prove unhealthy to the future success of the forum....

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The demise of VS increases the importance of this site and of others like it. I have become increasingly concerned that this forum is increasingly dominated by JFK conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers. Some time ago, Andy suggested that all the JFK stuff could be shunted off into a separate section so that new visitors weren't confronted by a vast array of posts and topics, some of which are a little strange -- and I don't mean all of them, which are clearly the result of serious research. I'm not a new visitor, but I do sometimes find it daunting to have to trawl through maybe a hundred threads to find the two or three which don't relate to some sort of conspiracy theory...

I have to admire your ingenuity of bringing up this subject in so many threads. I will therefore have to say what I have said to you many times before, while I remain administrator I will allow those with an interest in the JFK case to post as much as they like on this Forum.

As it has been explained to you time after time, you do not have to read their postings. Why are you so keen to make them feel unwelcome on this Forum? I find this constant attack very offensive. It is like me inviting you to a party at my home. After spending the night consuming my food and drink you ask me to remove those guests who you disapprove of. The answer is no. They are my friends. I enjoy their company. They will always receive a welcome from me. I would like my other friends to treat them the same way. If you cannot do that, I would prefer you not to say anything at all.

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Some time ago, Andy suggested that all the JFK stuff could be shunted off into a separate section so that new visitors weren't confronted by a vast array of posts and topics, some of which are a little strange --

I do not recall suggesting any such thing ;)

There are very simple precedures members can set up themselves to avoid reading posts from people they either don't like or are not interested in.

I am actually encouraged by the recent trend for JFK posters to get involved in debate in other sections

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It looks that the discussion about the demise of the VS has degenerated into a bit of a bun-fight. As an outsider – and as a consultant who has worked for the European Commission as an evaluator of project proposals – I think you probably need to get back to basics, namely:

Establish that there is a NEED for a Virtual School of the type that you propose. Conduct a proper needs analysis among potential staff and students and find out if such a school will really be in DEMAND. If you cannot come up with concrete evidence that there is such a need and a demand, a funding proposal will not get anywhere.

Personally, I have my doubts about the need for a Virtual School embracing a wide range of subjects. As a teacher (and occasional learner) of foreign languages, I always look first at specialist websites for information and for teaching and learning materials – and there is a VERY wide range of such materials for my subject area on the Web. Language teachers seem to have got themselves very well organised as far as ICT is concerned. There are several professional associations devoted to ICT in language learning, e.g.

CALICO, the largest and oldest such association, based in the USA: http://www.calico.org

EUROCALL, the largest and oldest such association of European origin, currently based in Ireland: http://www.eurocall-languages.org

Other associations are emerging in the Far East. We all work together and are in the process of uniting under WorldCALL: http://worldcall.org

Two WorldCALL conferences have already taken place: 1998 (Melbourne, Australia), 2003 (Banff, Canada). A call for bids to host WorldCALL 2008 will be made later this year.

Members of the Education Forum do not appear to be all that interested in foreign languages. I have tried to get things moving, but have been very disappointed by the response. I think Mike has a point when he says:

I'm not saying that research into conspiracies (real or imagined) is in any way disreputable, or that it is not of interest to educators. I'm just saying that an imbalance has crept in which could, in the long term, prove unhealthy to the future success of the forum...

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John has, however, told me that such views and the expression of them is insulting and I will not, therefore, be making any further observations in this respect, except to answer questions or reply to points made, like Andy's.

Didn't you suggest the creation of a separate "research section" for JFK stuff a few weeks ago?

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Contrary to your believe I really did have Virtual school in my thoughts when I wrote my posting. True the situating inside History department mirrored the situation inside Virtual school in the same way as the situation inside the whole Virtual school mirrored back into History department.

1. Generally speaking there were a lot of people inside Virtual school who from time to time was unhappy for not being paid for the work done by them. You were one of them during the early days of Virtual school, let say from Stockholm inauguration meeting and until Helsinki meeting. You discussed this fact with me quite often. You basically conditioned your contributions with payments.  One such debate did you, I and Vesa Viherva have in Helsinki, You wanted to be paid, me and Vesa didn’t bother with receiving money. Our line of arguments was tax situation in the Scandinavia. Participations on conferences were an acceptable reward for us two. It was not for you. I do remember how hard it was at that time to obtain material from.

On the other hand you became later more active taking adequate materials from your Spartacus site (Immigration project for example) and shared it with us. For this you should get BIG thanks. Also obtaining the new and interesting material with the help of  “Ask the expert” was a big achievement for the CMS´s History Department. I already thank you for that at Education forum.

I will repeat again. I, or the other people with websites, never refused to produce materials unless we were paid.

What is true is that I and others constantly argued that productivity would be increased if people were paid for the work that they did. I used the example of the EU Spring Day Project that I was involved with. Each participating member was paid a £1,000 to produce teaching materials on the subject of European integration (these materials were kept on member websites). If people did not produce the materials, they did not get the money. Nor were they invited to future meetings.

The idea of payment for work was raised at several meetings. You always argued against the idea because of the Swedish tax system. At one meeting you did get support from Vesa Viherva on this. However, that was the only meeting he did attend and he never produced any materials for the Virtual School.

Of course, you had other reasons to argue this. You got your money for your work at the Virtual School in other ways. For example, you were given time off school to do this work. Other members did not have this benefit. It was particularly difficult for me, as I was not employed by a school at the time. It cost me money to attend meetings as my income comes from freelance work. However, I thought the sacrifice was worth making in return for meeting with fellow educators.

You also know why the materials that I produced went on my website rather than the VS site. For years the VS were unwilling to put the materials we were producing on its website. We had meeting after meeting with Magnus asking for permission to upload our materials. As you know, until recently, this was not possible. Although the system is deeply flawed (as always with the VS) I have persevered and have uploaded a large amount of material on the Olympic Games.

So, for most of its existence, Richard, Juan Carlos, Nico, Anders and myself placed our materials on our own website. This was linked to the VS website. At the same time the VS website was linked to our materials. Have you ever looked at this material. It amounts to months and months of work produced without pay.

Exactly for what should I apology?

The accusation that people with websites insisted on payment before contributing materials to the VS website.

With arrival of Richard into our group things started to develop faster and for the better. His arrival meant transfusion for us all, old members of History department. We got two huge projects started and soon published at the site. You John changed too and became more active than before. It was great to se …….

I agree. That is why I suggested he join the VS history department after meeting him in Toulouse.

The department also improved after Juan Carlos joined from the Civics Department. That was also at my suggestion. In both cases my main objective was to get people into the department who were able to produce online content. That was desperately important because until they arrived I was the only one who could do that.

Although I had nothing to do with it Nico’s arrival also strengthened the department. Once again, he had the ability to produce online materials.

The arrival of Anders was another important event. At the time he did not know much about producing online materials. However, he was willing to learn, and with the help of fellow members, he also has a functioning website.

3. Communities were neglected by very many departments which caused a deep sorrow inside management team I will guess. The management team was hoping that activities there would improve a statistic of activities done inside Virtual school thus giving us more funding. And you must agree that this was of a crucial importance! When reading yours “All members joined Communities section and posted messages.” I’m startled. How can you possibly know this? When I was checking with “Heads” of a few departments all of them told me that they were not doing very much inside.

Maybe you could name the people who never posted in the Communities? When I made one of my rare visits I saw posts from most of the team.

Yes, all members joined Communities section and posted messages before they left. But isn’t it a rather poor result for almost three years of activities.

As I have explained. The reason for this was the appalling software the VS purchased. Far better software was available free of charge on the web. You have to explain why the VS insisted on paying for sub-standard software. I have my own views on this but I had better not say anything because it is libellous.

What you John were doing with Olympic Games project in autumn 2004 after Olympic Games in Athens ended is a mystery for me ……

Why did you write about Baron Coubertin eight months after I wrote about him? His biography was already written and published …..

That you transferred (did you?) the whole Olympic project from old web site to the new one was a good deed though it was my task. I would have done it sooner or later like I transferred other material.

The reason why I produced the materials for the Olympic Games when I did was because of instructions I received from my ministry. I wanted to produce materials on the history of environmental materials. That idea was rejected. Instead, I was told I had to produce materials on the Olympic Games. That is what I have been doing. (after all, my ministry now pays for me to travel to VS meetings). It is a large project and is yet to be completed.

No it was not taken from my website. It is all original material and only resides on the VS website (my ministry insisted on this).

I am sorry if some of my material overlaps some of yours. But this is inevitable considering as I am trying to write a history of the Olympic Games. Don’t worry, I have not plagiarised your work.

At the end  …….. please give attention to the following thoughts:

During the sex years of your membership at History department you probably left behind 30 contributions? Or more?  50 maybe? I didn’t count them I’m just guessing ….. What would your guess be?

During 14 months of its existens you wrote and posted 2 829 postings at Education Forum!

What kind of Virtual school would we have created during these six years if you have been half ….. no, 10%! …… as active at History department as you are at Education Forum??!!

I assume you are trying to say that you contributed more materials to the VS that I did. That is for others to judge. It would difficult to say how many pages of material I have produced for the VS. If you count that VS projects with material on both websites, I would estimate it is near a 1,000 pages (see just the projects on the Spanish Civil War and Immigration).

The comparisons with the Virtual School Communities and the Education Forum is irrelevant. I have already explained in some detail why I did not post on the Communities (the same reason why everybody else did not post very often). As I have said before, this had nothing to do with payment (as you libellously suggested on an earlier posting), it was about finding the best way to communicate with fellow educators. I am free to spend my time posting on whatever forum I wish. In the same way that you are.

Like it or not Education Forum has been in the last 14 months a main grave digger of Virtual school, diverting effectively much of the contribution flow from a task we in the past promised to support and fight for.

This is the most bizarre of all your accusations. As Andy has already pointed out, the Education Forum was initially funded by the UK Education ministry as part of its contribution to the Virtual School. That is why I contacted all members of the VS and suggested they joined the Forum. I know this upset some people at the VS as it exposed the problem with its own incompetent software. It was probably as a result of complaints made by the administrators of the VS that this funding was cut off.

The idea that the establishment of this Forum killed off the Virtual School is plain daft. The VS has come to an end because the various ministries have decided not to fund it. Over the years I had several meetings with the UK ministry in an effort to persuade them to part fund the VS. They always made the same point. It was just a typical EU talking shop. When eventually they did agree to provide funding (on the orders of Charles Clarke, the education minister, who favoured European cooperation), they insisted that money provided should be linked to materials being produced. They were in fact happy with the work produced by UK members, their problem was being unable to persuade other education ministries to follow their example.

Rather than killing off the Virtual School, the Forum will enable it to be reborn. We have started this process with the E-HELP Project. This has enabled us to add people with a track-record in online education to the team. As you know, our budget for this is linked to the idea of people producing online resources. Those who are only interested in having meetings, will be asked to leave.

As I have already suggested, other VS departments could follow our example. They could also start Comenius Projects like E-HELP for their own subject. We could then work together. In doing so, we will create a Virtual School that is owned by its members, rather than education ministries. In other words, we will have carried out a grassroots revolution.

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Establish that there is a NEED for a Virtual School of the type that you propose. Conduct a proper needs analysis among potential staff and students and find out if such a school will really be in DEMAND. If you cannot come up with concrete evidence that there is such a need and a demand, a funding proposal will not get anywhere.

I am sorry, I think I was to first to use the words "not paid for" on the thread about the end of the VS. I just used those words because I once heard a teacher declare that she found it right to have the time spent to produce the material somehow rewarded.

I felt astonished, for I thought that having the opportunity of collaborating with the VS was rewarding enough.

At the same time I don't think at all it was a matter of being paid which brought the VS to an end.

I think the VS was simply not as efficient or productive as expected with respect to the money invested on it. So it had to be closed, but, as John says, collaboration can go on.

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The question of being paid for work done often crops up in discussion lists. It came up recently in the Linguanet Forum, where a member asked what a teacher could be expected to be paid for making a contribution to a book. The answers indicated that teachers are often expected to work for nothing at all or for a very modest payment.

The most I have ever been paid for producing a piece of writing (for an educational website) is 550 euros – for an article of around 13 000 words on which I spent many, many hours. I am only prepared to do this occasionally, however, and only if I find the work particularly interesting. As a free-lancer (I retired from full-time teaching in 1993 in return for a modest pension) I have to earn my living and pay for my groceries, heating and lighting my house, running my car, etc. I would normally expect to be paid around 600 euros per day, e.g. for running an ICT training course. 600 euros per day is more or less the standard rate for this kind of work in the UK. Such work, of course, does not present itself every day and when it does it involves preparation time, travelling time and possibly an overnight stay in a hotel.

I firmly believe that paying people is the best way to get good work out of them. One specifies what is required, sets a deadline for delivery and pays for work done. As an editor of a website funded in part by the European Commission, I achieved good results working this way, and I never had shoddy work presented for publication.

My plumber charges 60 euros just to come and investigate a problem and then charges 40 euros per hour to fix it. My garage charges astronomical fees for maintaining and fixing my car. Why shoud education be treated so differently? Teachers work in return for a salary, don't they? Those who work overtime on projects should be properly rewarded.

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I have now completed the work on the Olympic Games Project. It amounts to 21 pages (9,182 words).

I have posted it on the Virtual School Website. However, as always I have received numerous error messages during the process and will check with Chui Hsia to see if it has been published correctly.

I would like to create some activities to go with the material. However, I have been told that the website will eventually be closed down. Is it therefore worth me doing this?

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I have now completed the work on the Olympic Games Project. It amounts to 21 pages (9,182 words).

I have posted it on the Virtual School Website. However, as always I have received numerous error messages during the process and will check with Chui Hsia to see if it has been published correctly.

I would like to create some activities to go with the material. However, I have been told that the website will eventually be closed down. Is it therefore worth me doing this?

Would you like to upload it to the e-help website?

You could be the first to try out the new system?

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I also have some material (Flash Animation in English and some short articles in Spanish) on Cold War Politics and Olympic Games. It could be a good idea to upload it on E-HELP website.

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