When I first quit my day-job three years ago to work full-time on the Internet, there was a sense of being on my own. I did know a few people from online teaching platforms which were encouraging communal activity on their forums, but the spirit of these communities often seemed limited by the business under whose roof they resided.
In other words: I never quite felt “at home” in these places, walled off from the rest of the Internet through logins and passwords. So, instead of hanging around these digital fortresses, I started building connections with individuals, based on my writings, online teaching jobs or other endeavors.
One of these individuals was Kirsten Winkler, who had the brilliant idea (among many others) to create a community where “Edupreneurs” like us could gather outside of a particular platform or branded forum. And it was not long before I met many of the people I’d gotten to know through my online work all over the net again in Kirsten’s community.
It became a place for us to share articles with each other, give and get feedback about our projects and just be silly once in a while. Each of us brought our own unique interests and connections to the group and we got to know each other better.
From Talking And Sharing To Doing Things Together
An entrepreneur may recognize different social worlds and might be a kind of peripheral member of different social worlds, but unless they have a place to bring those people together, those worlds never actually meet. When they meet, they need to not only come together in some place. They need to do something together. – Fred Turner, interviewed by Howard Rheingold in Netsmart, page 224
I’m convinced that while talking and sharing information is great, it’s not enough to create a community. It’s only when people start doing things together that a community reveals its true nature. It’s very easy to hide behind academic debates, dazzling CVs and awards, but once you get together to work on a project, you get to know the person behind the persona.
The Edupreneurs Club has led to many collaborations in the past, whether it was Kirsten’s invitation to participate in writing for fairlanguages.com, or the first Language Learning Today Conference which took place in June this year.
But despite all the online collaborations, our group hadn’t yet had any “real world” impacts. (I use this term with caution, since it implies that everything which happens online is “not real”, which is utterly untrue.) A physical gathering seemed unlikely due to the immense geographical distances between us. So, one day while doing the dishes, I had an idea. What if we were to create a book together? Not just an ebook (that, too) but a “real” paper book we could put on our shelves all over the world and point to it, saying: Look! We did this!
This was exactly two months ago on May 25th. The idea was to create a storybook for English learners, presented in a way which is structured enough to be helpful for learners while also giving the authors enough freedom to do whatever they please.
It was an experiment. Could we bring together 10 different people from five different continents that had never met before in real life and write, edit and publish a book together?
Apparently, yes …
We’re now only a few days away from the official launch of this book on Tuesday the 30th. We’ll kick it off with a free promotion for the ebook so anyone who’s interested can get a copy.
At this point, I also want to say thank you to everyone who contributed to this book, every member of the Edupreneurs Club and of course Kirsten Winkler, without whom none of this would have been possible.