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Useful tips when posting online
Updated by Tessa Gray

In our various roles online, we will increasingly find ourselves working in blended ways, both face-to-face and online.This page provides some support when working virtually inside edSpace:


Huge acknowledgement and gratitude to Chrissie Butler and SEN team, LwDT project 2012) who previously shared this content when working with colleagues and educators:
 

Inclusive posting online 

hands reaching out

A useful list to check our writing

This evolved in BLENNZ...

  • Inclusive (incl. culturally responsive, jargon free)
  • Consistent (the way we are describing students)
  • Descriptive, not subjective
  • Active not deficit - “Sally can ….”
  • Useful and informative - include where possible text and photos/diagrams/videos with captions and links

In working on the inclusive website, the other bullet points I would add to that now would be:

  • aspirational
  • invitational - "You could consider" or "something I have sometimes found useful is ... ", rather than "you need to"

An example...

So here is how I approach a really common thread in an online community:

  • A teacher or facilitator puts out a request in a conversation thread for apps/e-tools for a learner (let's say literacy), but the request doesn't tell us much about the learner. 

This teacher posting the request, has taken a risk (been brave) and made themselves vulnerable, how we respond must be sensitive and responsive to this.

1. Encourage them

So first up, in a public reply, try to encourage the teacher and welcome the request and make some initial suggestions and if possible add some links to stories about learners. You might include a link to a resource that supports the selection of apps for learners. The latter is a delicate consideration.  Make a call about how this might make the teacher feel.

2. Private message 

Next up, edSpace provides me with an opportunity to correspond 1:1 with a community member and offer to work more closely. I can say in a 1:1 private message:

"I was just thinking about your request in the thread on XXX, I wondered, so I can offer some more useful suggestions, if you could could share a little more about the interests and needs of your learner. Is there something he/she really motivated by, as that might be a great place to start?". 

You might ask something about the learner's age and culture. Again this depends on the feel of the conversation. You may want to offer an opportunity for a conversation, rather than make the teacher feel like they didn't give us enough information. Writing with a positive spin about the learner, rather than focusing on what the learner can't do is always desirable.

3. Share advice/support in a public forum

If you begin working alongside the teacher behind the scenes, you can then possibly share tools and suggestions - back in the public forum, with an acknowledgement of the discussions had behind the scenes, if that feels appropriate. 

Ideally we want the teacher/s making the requests not to feel 'shown up' by the responses, but to feel that the question they asked was valuable to others and that they are not alone.

Edit, refine, improve, review

The other beauty of online communities like edSpace, is that we can edit our comments and add and take away from them. We can add extra links and pictures and diagrams at a later stage. We can refine our thinking and ask others what they think. Our replies and posts contribute to this amazing body of knowledge. It is pretty cool.

So have a think about how you are rocking in it in edSpace. Maybe take the bullet points above and hold them up against what you are writing. No whipping allowed. We all constantly revise what I write. It's just a great journey.

 

  5 Tips for posting online 

 

  1. Bear your audience and purpose in mind: provide them with a clear reason to read. What's in it for them?
  2. Keep it succinct, short and engaging: Most people skim and scan online. Provide images/embed multi-media and links to further reading or resources instead of loads of text. Aim to keep it short enough to be read on an laptop screen without scrolling (above the crease)
  3. Make it accessible and engaging: Use headings hierarchies, bold, bullets, images with alt text added
  4. Friendly and professional tone: If you are representing Te Toi Tupu, present yourself and your ideas appropriately. Any profiles need to reflect this too.
  5. Constructive and learning-focused: This can range from warm social greeting and affirmation to build trust, through to exchanging useful information, to asking open questions to encourage further reflection. Bear in mind that our focus is to foster professional learning that enhances students' achievement:-)

Protocols when working online

 

  • Foster personal connections and relationships over blanket emails e.g. messages on message-board (public) / private offline email are better than one email to many
  • Ask permission to post in / belong to others’ groups / sharing others' resources
  • Professional profile: make it clear who you work for, your role and your focus. People should know who they are talking to. Friendly and professional in tone.
  • Working across community spaces with strategic, targeted intervention - “just in time” commentary where appropriate e.g. adding value to a public discussion on e-portfolios
  • Use Te Reo to greet / sign off - know our Māori learn community members - how do our profiles reflect our place in a bi-cultural society?
  • From ‘knowing about’ to ‘knowing about the impact’: Walk the balance between community wants and needs - share a resource that’s useful (‘gets you to the table’) then add value: ask a question, suggest pedagogical approach, align to e-LPF, share an associated story, ask the ‘so what?’. Focus primarily on using the discussion tools [rather than bookmarks] - share resources in existing conversations; wherever possible, add to the dialogue. Treat forums as growing resources.
  • Model principles of Universal Design for Learning
  • Be responsible for dairying content with an expiry date - and deleting/archiving when required.
  • Aim for 24 hour response time.

Thank you Chrissie Butler for these tips

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