A very important way NWDA seeks to fulfill its mission is by bringing together Dharma and meditation teachers throughout the region. For several years, the Association has hosted an annual Teachers Meeting. (See related article about the recent 2008 meeting.) The annual meeting provides an opportunity for teachers to discuss ideas and concerns of special interest to them in a peer group setting.
Given the geographic size of our region and the significant demands on teachers’ schedules, each year only a small number of teachers are able to attend. Those who do so always comment on how valuable these meetings are. In order to extend this service, we have developed a tool for facilitating ongoing communication among regional Dharma teachers.
NWDA’s TeacherSpace, accessed through our website at www.northwestdharma.org, is an adaptation of a “.Ning” social networking site. Teacher-Members will be able to join subject to approval based on simple criteria. Use of the site is limited to teachers only. The site allows for posting personal profile information and signing on to any number of discussion groups.
The TeacherSpace is just now entering its “beta-testing” phase. A group of test users recruited at this year’s Teachers Meeting is about to join the site and begin adding content and modifying the structure our volunteer development group has set up. When this phase is complete—in a few months, we expect—the TeacherSpace will be available for all Teacher-Members.
The TeacherSpace will serve as an online resource for teachers to keep in touch with one another, discuss ideas and concerns, share resources, and ask and answer questions. The actual content of the site will be shaped by teachers themselves. George Draffan of Natural Awareness currently serves as moderator. He and several NWDA board and staff members tested a variety of online networking options before deciding to adapt the .Ning structure.
For more information about the TeacherSpace site, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.