Rebecca Hedreen, the Distance Education Librarian, at the Buley Library at Southern Connecticut State University left a comment on my Some Thoughts on Online Education at the Halfway Point post. In the comment, Rebecca was responding to my points that SCSU doesn’t really have any online communities for its distance students (along with making some other very salient points). At the end of her comment, she expressed some interest in working with me if I wanted to try to create some type of online group. We discussed the issue a bit more via email, and Rebecca made some suggestions for creating an online community using Facebook, Yahoo Groups or groups within the student portal system at SCSU – MySCSU. Rebecca and I had briefly discussed this same subject back in early September 2005 when I had emailed her about some of my concerns. I will say that I thought quite a bit about this back in early fall – but work, school and life took all of my energies.
Ultimately, this seems like a good time to try to put something together. I’m not entirely sure how successful it will be. Part of me really thinks that online communities created on commercial sites could be very useful, but I really believe that the school needs some sort of official place for distance students. I definintely see a need for a place that distance student can ask questions, find out about the school and get official information that is pertinent to distance education. But, one has to start somewhere. So, I created a Facebook account last night. Rebecca mentioned that she knew many students already had accounts so this might be a good place to create an environment. I don’t have much there other than my SCSU email address and some vague mention that my graduation date is 2012 (which I think is when I have to be done – I’m hoping to be done by the end of 2008). My plan at this point is to just play around with different sites to see what they offer. Fortunately, I invited Rebecca to be my friend, and she accepted (I find this to be such an odd concept). It seems that one can’t really test out some of these social software sites unless they participate in them. This can be difficult for those like me who may be inherently unsocial. Of course, I have 9 million other things to do, but feel compelled to make an effort to effect some type of positive change. Here’s hoping!!