I am an active member of a number of online communities. They reflect different interests in general, but tend to converge at various points. I am active on Facebook, Edmodo, CCAEagles.org, luonline, ISTE, and a number of other sites like Skype and Twitter to lesser degrees.
To me, online communities allow for better contact with students and parents. Within the confines of these contact points, I am able to explain and clarify the intricacies of the day’s lesson. I am also able to assign work and collect assessments of my students through sites like Edmodo. Here, students are able to message me with questions or post those questions to the stream so the entire class is able to benefit from their question and my response.
Through my school blog/class website (ccaeagles.org) I am able to easily interact with parents and students about academic progress and the like. Here is where I post notes whole cloth. Via the email function of the page, students are able to voice concerns or gain clarity on tougher concepts, thus, allowing me to reach out to their classmates with the clarification or additional information the class needs to succeed.
Facebook is the tool I use to connect to friends and family near and far. I prefer these discussions be in the open with students, should they have an urgent question. Photos, videos and text converge in this forum to provide a fairly balanced platform. As with any technology, care must be taken to not over-use Face book. I try not to check my Facebook too often, but daily birthdays and occaisional notes about big events are posted here.
With each of these, balance is key. If we are not careful, we can easily get swamped by artificial obligations to check and post to our online communities.