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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Introducing Edutopia.org's Community Manager

Betty Ray

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

I am thrilled and honored to be joining Edutopia.org as the community manager. I'm still finding my way around and getting to know everyone. I hope you'll take a few seconds to introduce yourself!

By way of a little background, I got my professional start as a journalist, though I've been immersed in online communities since 1995, when I first stumbled into a screenwriters group on America On-Line. Here was a collection of people -- with completely different writing abilities and backgrounds -- who had never even met before. Indeed, they were scattered all over the planet!

Yet, day after day, week after week, they went back to that chat room, helping each other through writers' block, or offering suggestions for plot builds or character development, or making introductions to agents, or actors, or set designers.

I was so awed by the collaboration and trust, and the positive professional impact of this group, that I decided to make a career leap. I taught myself some basic Web-programming skills and joined the staff at Minnesota Public Radio's Web site. There, I produced chats with Garrison Keillor and helped put A Prairie Home Companion on the Internet.

After moving to the Bay Area in 1998, I became the steward for the community at Live365, the world's largest network of independent Internet radio stations. One market crash and two Webby Awards later, I joined a social network for people over 40.

Then, my life changed immeasurably when I had a baby last April. Once I got used to no sleep and being spit up on constantly, I got involved on a number of local parenting and educational communities. I talked to many parents and teachers about their concerns. I worked with some colleagues to develop a large-scale project-based program for Oakland parents, teachers, and children for grades K-12. Alas, the economy had just tanked, and our tiny funding went the way of the 8-track player.

Fast-forward a few months, and I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to be the community manager at Edutopia.org. I am so impressed by the caliber of bright, caring, and articulate educators who visit and comment on the site. I am blown away by the commitment to improvement across geographical, cultural, and economic bounds. I am energized and encouraged by the positive, actionable tactics to make those goals a reality.

With all that said, I will do whatever I can to ensure that the discussions here are enriching, meaningful, supportive, safe, and vibrant. This blog is the first step in a much larger initiative to encourage dialogue among Edutopians. For now, please let me know who you are, your role in education, and -- if you feel like it -- what you like about Edutopia.org. (We'll get into what we can do better, later!) Feel free to post here, or email community@edutopia.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

Betty Ray

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia
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