Current efforts attempt to engage narrow groups of participants to collaborate towards shared topics. A complete network would engage all potential participants around the topic of education and allow them to organize and structure evidence along many divergent topics and goals.
Various stakeholders in education have said that they need a Network allowing them to share and gain ideas for improving the lives of young people. Community organizers need ideas from people who have successfully reduced suspensions in their communities; principals need to hear from other principals in similar demographic situations, or from teachers who have experienced approaches they are considering implementing. Parents need ideas about what is possible and happening in schools elsewhere, and examples of what children and youth are *able to do* in other educational environments, so that they can become fully engaged and informed advocates for their children's educational possibilities. Teachers need to see success stories from teachers elsewhere who have grappled with shared issues or initiated creative approaches to shared dilemmas.
While each of these folks currently can go to Google or other websites, such searches return masses of indigestible and unranked information about 'what works,' particularly from the perspective of researchers; it is hard to learn "what works" from the perspective of various stakeholders (parents, youth, or teachers) who have experienced the effort, or to start up dialogue with similarly situated people. Existing networks on Ning or elsewhere also track users into silos (e.g., only other teachers), making it harder for people to access stakeholders in other "roles" (e.g., teachers may have trouble finding parents, young people, or principals who have experienced particular programs or approaches). Finally, young people themselves are almost never invited to weigh in on educational approaches they themselves experience. All such "users" are our intended audience, because they all are stakeholders in children's educational fates.
We also imagine people in community A sharing ongoing successes and struggles with people in community B, so that a running dialogue evolves about place-based constraints and possibilities (not everything that works in 2010 San Diego might work in 2010 Austin, but a running dialogue can keep both communities informed of innovations and struggles in the other place.)