About two years ago I wrote a post with the title “A Call to All Independent Teachers“. It was to announce the free online teachers and tutors directory here on LearnOutLive.

The idea behind this directory was to create a space where independent education professionals can list their website in order to attract students and gain the attention of other teachers.

Many teachers have joined the directory since then. Almost every day new teachers are signing up, and I continue to be amazed by how many people have made teaching online their part-time job or full-time profession.

Connecting Independent Online Teachers

Having been a non-institutional teacher myself for almost a decade (and later an online language teacher), I know how rewarding it can be to work directly with people and help students to achieve their goals, but also I’ve experienced the many challenges of running an independent online teaching business.

If there’s one thing that has helped me most to succeed in my time as an online language teacher, then it’s probably networking; making contacts with other teachers, learning about their experiences and challenges, exchanging helpful morsels of advice, or just the odd bit of commiseration here and there.

Some of these teachers have become good friends, and although we’ve never met physically, there’s a strong sense that we’ve known each other for years.

This community spirit has not just been “platonic”, either, but has led to many real-world consequences, most notably perhaps the book we co-authored together in 2013, involving 10 people from 5 different continents!

An Avalanche Of Fleeting Newsfeeds

Most of these connections between us have been through email, instant messages and comments throughout the Social Media world. The great thing about using tools like Facebook and Twitter is the immediacy. If I have a question about something or need feedback about a project I’m working on, all I need to do is ask, and immediately my colleagues will be able to see my question and respond to it.

While this form of exchange allows us to get results very easily and instantly, these moments are also very fleeting. What you post on Facebook or Twitter today, is basically gone tomorrow. So, if one of my colleagues has the same question in two weeks, chances are she’ll have to ask it again. Plus, there’s always the danger of posts getting lost in the constant noise of newspaper articles, cat photos and wedding invitations.

Building a More Permanent Space

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about ways to make the communication between independent online teachers and educators less evanescent. What I’ve come up with is an approach which is as old as the Internet itself: yep, forums. A good forum can be a place away from the noise, where serious discussion takes place, and it can also act as a knowledge-base or archive for future questions and discussion. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found an answer to a programming-related question by going to Google and reading though forum threads.

So, without further ado, I present to you: The LearnOutLive Teachers Forum.

If you’re an independent online teacher looking for a place where you can share your knowledge and experience with others, learn about educational tools, methods and websites, or just to hang out in your coffee breaks, you’re most welcome to join!

P.S.: This forum might be a bit different than other forums you have used before, because it utilizes the Muut Framework. Not only did I appreciate the absolutely blazing performance, minimal design and deep customizability, also their philosophy seemed somewhat compatible with what we’re trying to do here.

photo: Some rights reserved by CaptPiper