What are 2344 People Thinking?

As more educators in New Jersey move from 1.0 to 2.0 methods of communication, I’m thinking the need for a newsletter may begin to fade. Not that I would stop e-mailing it to our some two-thousand subscribers anytime soon. But it’s time to offer some options and to hopefully start getting some answers.

Many teachers and administrators that I’ve met with over the last few months have started to follow me on Twitter and have signed up for Google Reader or Bloglines to organize the blogs that they have begun to read. They’re open to moving forward into the Web 2.0 world.

CMSCE April 2008 NewsletterThe Center has been using their Listserv to communicate with NJ educators for years now. We use it to send out notices of special events, upcoming workshops and when I joined the staff in 2004, I began to send a monthly newsletter to the ListServ’s subscribers.

According to L-soft the ListServ was invented in 1986. Just two years prior, the CMSCE at Rutgers University was established to contribute to the improvement of mathematics, science, and computer education programs in New Jersey schools and in schools throughout the nation.

Many of you know I abandoned what little blogging I had done at Blogger and decided many weeks ago to start from scratch with Thumann Resources. I gave some thought as to the benefits of the Center’s ListServ subscribers reading the information I present to them in newsletter form in the form of a blog post. Here is what I came up with:

If you click on the http://Bubbl.us image, you’ll see a full screen version of it.

The yellow bubbles represent anything that both the newsletter and blog have in common such as the fact that both are written in html and are best viewed in a browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari). Another commonality is that the ListServ will not allow any e-mails to go through with virus attachments and the moderator (that’s me) will not allow any comments to go through that are not approriate or related to the conversation.

The remaining bubbles focus on four major points:

  1. I have no idea how many of the 2,344 educators who subscribe to the Center’s ListServ or the additional thousands of educators who subscribe to NJSSI‘s ListServ (who I also send the newsletter to each month) actually read the newsletter. On my blog I can see how many people visited each post.
  2. Not only can I see how many people visited each post, but I can see how many times each of the links in the post were clicked.
  3. I can track where my readers are coming from. Did they come to Thumann Resources from Google, Rutgers, Twitter, the DOE?
  4. The only person who gets to see the reponses that subscribers submit to the monthly newsletter is me. Many of them are kudos and many others are requests for “a site that can help me with…” and “when will you offer the…” and of course “please remove me from…”, but the blog opens the door to readers being able to leave comments that other readers can read and respond to.

My favorite is number 4. I’m hoping some of you will comment on this post letting me know your thoughts about what I’ve written, what you’d like to share with other educators, what you’d like to see in the newsletter, or anything else you’d like to share.

5 thoughts on “What are 2344 People Thinking?

  1. Christy Tvarok says:

    Blog it! Blog it! I have read the newsletter forwarded to me by Tom in the past, however your points about blogs vs. newsletters are right on. AND if Tom doesn’t have his Google Reader set up, we can help him…thus further introducing him to Web 2.0! It’s a perfect plan!

  2. Thanks Christy,
    I was thinking of teachers like you as I wrote this post. You are moving forward and you want to bring your school and district with you. But we have to still offer both as we move ahead at different comfort levels.

    Leaving a comment on a blog is a great first step for many.
    Please keep doing what you are doing and see you on Twitter!!


  3. Maureen says:

    Although it is redundant, I think that it is still necessary to give both choices. My school is pretty far behind the curve and I often have people who don’t even regularly check email. As more and more people become accustomed to using web 2.0 tools, you can begin to wean them off the newsletter. But, just from my experience, some of my most “tech savvy” teachers are just finding out about RSS, not really using it for much yet.

    Maybe you could put teasers- beginnings of the story or comment- and then your readers would have to click through to the blog to actually get the full story. And of course an invitation to subscribe to the blog to avoid all that clicking about.

    But just think, you no longer have to copy, fold, stuff envelopes with the newsletters, right? We are moving forward, just really slowly.

  4. Maureen,
    Thank you, you have given me two great ideas.
    1. From now on I will include an unobtrusive invitation in the newsletter to subscribe to the blog.
    2. I will provide complete bits of information in the newsletter, but give teasers to find out additional information by clicking on a link to http://thumannresources.com as an encouragement to get them to read and participate.

    I appreciate you contributing your thoughts.

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