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C'est la Z

The CS Education Subreddit

Amy Ko posted this yesterday:

I'd love to see more traffic there. For full disclosure, I'm one of the moderators but in my defense, I'm not much of a moderator and as Cory said, I too am happy to either keep moderating or to step aside.

Twitter is nice for broadcasting but not great for meaty discussions. The character limit does make you think out what you're saying but it's also a headache and tweet storms are an inelegant solution at best. Once you start mixing in replies threads become hard to follow.

An interesting case study of Twitter conversation is over at Fred Wilson's blog AVC. Fred recently rebooted his long standing blog and is now using Twitter for comments whereas he previously used Disqus. I haven't done an in depth analysis but there appears to be far fewer comments and less in depth conversation than in his blogs past incarnations. This could just be my perceptions but given the large readership, it might be an interesting thing to analyze.

As to other communication tools, I've written about them with respect to classroom communications here and here. Many of the same issues exist for using these tools as a professional community.

Facebook groups are private, undiscoverable, hard to search, and scattered. They also exist in the Facebook silo. Data goes in but it never comes out. I also can't access those Facebook groups using anything other than Facebook.

Email is a great default. Nowhere else to go - things just show up in your inbox. I'm on the APCS mailing list as well as SIGCSE. One problem is the no quoting policy which makes threads hard to follow and discoverability and long term searchability are a problem.

Slack? Just no.

So let's think about reddit.

You can go to the site to read it but you can also subscribe using an RSS/Atom reader like Feedly. If you post a comment you get replies via email and an alert in reddit. It's discoverable, public, and searchable. It even appears to support chats and a wiki. Hits all the buttons for me.

We could do a better job with the subreddit - add resource links to the sidebar for instance - I just started to do that now.

My friend Ria commented on how she wasn't happy that people could post anonymously. I tend to agree with her - I've always used my real identity in forums and would prefer others do the same but that's not a dealbreaker to me. I'd rather an open community with anonymous posting allowed than Zuck's world.

Another issue that is sure to be raised is openness. Some teachers don't want their discussions public where students can find them. Sometimes this is to separate class from life and sometimes because class related issues are being discussed. I've never had an issue with this. Having spent close to 30 years in the classroom I've always been pretty open and public. Sure, sometimes a student can find an old assignment or blog post going over something but so what, maybe they'll learn something. The only time I see this as really being an issue is that you don't want to talk about specific student issues in a public forum to protect the students privacy. It's harder to ask your colleagues for help with some specific student related problem.

Now, much of what I'm guessing Amy was talking about was the CS Educator type discourse that doesn't get into those weeds but I see these communities as for all educators (which I'm sure Amy does as well, just separating my read on her specific tweet).

So, please do join us over in CSEducation over on Reddit. If you want to subscribe via an rss or atom reader just use this link:

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