Today I was reading an article in eSchool News about Teacher Communities, and there is a great interview with Florida's Tom Turner. He really has been burning up the interviews lately. The article featured the Discovery Educator Network, a community I was once very involved in and then went on to showcase PBS TeacherLine. The real focus was on the professional development opportunities offered by both companies.
But I want to point out that there are more communities popping up all over. Inspired Learning Community is one of my favorites, but then again, I love Inspiration! Using it right now to plan 21st Century Lessons and my communities newsletter. Apple, Promethean and Smart also have teacher communities. (Although, the DEN is still the best commercial community out there- so far.) Then there are a bunch of communities popping up on Ning, with my favorite to peep into is Classroom 2.0. If you join Ning, my username there is Teacher Village. I think this one is probably closest to what Wes Fryer has asked for "..... it shouldn’t be connected exclusively to people who are customers for a commercial product."
Personally, I would love to see all these companies pull together, hire people like the former DEN managers (like myself), fund us to offer online and face to face professional development that indirectly showcases the hardware/software/tools of those companies.
There was one thing that made me go "hmmm?" in the article. " Membership in the DEN is free to educators, and members do not have to have a unitedstreaming account to participate." When I was a manager you had to have unitedstreaming to become a DEN Member. Then they realized there were a bunch of people who were registering for the site, but they were not unitedstreaming users or they had DEN members who did the minimum and then stopped doing anything. So they created the STAR membership level. STAR DEN members received access to the shared resources, could create blogs, receive special thank you gifts for hard work in training other teachers, sharing resources, or whatever the goal was, and even get invitations to special events, like yesterday's Day of Discovery at the Peabody in Orlando, FL. Unless this has changed, if you register for the DEN site, you will receive small amounts of benefits. You really need to become a STAR member to reap the benefits.