This week I was asked a few time about how EFL Classroom 2.0 got started. So I thought it might be something many new members would be interested to hear about. It would also give me an opportunity to “pound the pulpit” about what I find quite disturbing in our “people oriented” industry, TEFL.
In the beginning (couldn’t resist :)), EFL Classroom was www.ddd.batcave.net (this is from the Way Back Machine, the Internet Archive a great way to look back at old, no longer functional websites.) I started it in Oct. of 2006 just to start sharing my files with other teachers and mostly to keep from endless sending out emails. With the website I could just say — “Look here!”. I met and trained thousands of teachers as part of my job and it just seemed to make sense. A primitive site but also straight from the heart.
The next stage was EFL Classroom 2.0. As I looked around the internet I found some disturbing things within the TEFL online universe that really hit me in the gut and propelled me to launch EFL Classroom 2.0.
1) Flat, old style sites with no Web 2.0 social functionality. Or if they did have a messageboard/forum, they were oriented towards amusement and frolick and not teacher development or resources. Sites, simple put, weren’t harnessing the new powers of the internet for the teachers and learners benefit.
2) $$$$$$. Everywhere I surfed, I found sites full of spam, full of google ads, full of buy this, purchase that. Sites offering teachers 10 worksheets for $10, stuff that should be shared. Simply put, I thought so many sites were preying on the nomadic and “new” in our profession. Preying on needy teachers and asking for money for nothing really special. I can see if you have something very unique, very special. But for the most part, the sites were all just slides/ppts, clip art, worksheets etc…. nothing groundbreaking. It got my goat! No payment here and no silly ads.
3) Trouble finding anything online. I spent hours, thousands of hours maybe, trying to find what I wanted. I was frustrated. The TEFL world seemed so fragmented and full of protective sites all isolated and trying to fight over teachers like sharks. Out of this frustration was born my belief in aggregation and the power it would have for us TEFL teachers. To bring all the best for learning and teaching to one spot. To save our time and our mind. Aggregation will be the future of an internet with so much information — it will allow us to collect, measure/rate, share the best of what is available there. Together we are more powerful than alone….
4) A need for an inductive approach to teaching teachers about technology. Teachers needed somewhere to go where they could find and experiment with new technologies. For sure, also discuss and share them. The computer will be an essential classroom tool in the future (if not already being so) and I thought I could use my knowledge to the benefit of others in this area.
In a nutshell, I saw something being done poorly and thought I could do it better. So I began to climb up that mountain…. I began in July of 2007. It wasn’t until Sept. 2007 that I would consider we “really” launched. Some of the early pioneers can be seen if you go to the last (first) page of our member’s directory.
Susan. An Israeli Brit who has the best grasp of online learning I know. Jennifer in Korea. Joshua – a phenomenal help and Korean Kotesoli, Michael Turcotte, Charles Clay,Michael Hamrick, Myr, Daniel Craig, Nelson Beard of Kid’s song fame and so many others. Go to their pages and say Hi and Thank You!
I would offer a piece of advice to anyone starting an internet (ad)venture. Just get it started! I came upon this recently but it encapsulates my own views that I undertook without their guidance. Signal 37’s “Getting Real”. A free online book with lots of advice that even translates into our own personal lives! Just GET REAL! Don’t think it through so much…. like here, I just kept adding bricks, working with desire and heart and love. Soon enough the house was built. And now it is all about renovating!
Hope you enjoyed the story and let’s look ahead…