In October 2023, Mrs. Sanseri and I met online with some SWR Endorsed Trainers who took turns interviewing us about some recurring questions being asked in the SWR Community. This is the second part of the interview. –Becky
Following is a brief, paraphrased summary of what you will hear in this video. It’s not a word-for-word transcript; it’s more of a skim for busy folks.
Caroline: I’m wondering about our social media presence. We started with the Yahoo Group and now we are mostly on the Facebook forum. Would you tell us about the history of the SWR Yahoo Group?
[The Yahoo Group was an email list and files storage started by an SWR home school mom. She sought and received Wanda’s permission to set up the group in 1999.]
Becky: The SWR Yahoo Group was an excellent tool for me when I began using the curriculum with our children. It was so active, often questions I had were answered by Wanda and her SWR Endorsed Trainers before I asked them.
Becky: [When Yahoo discontinued their Groups service in 2020, the SWR Group and its twenty years of history disappeared.] My SWR community was gone! Many turned to Facebook. However, not wanting to use Facebook, Wanda was disconnected from the public.
Not long after I became an Endorsed Trainer, before I ever imagined I would become SWR’s publisher, I approached Wanda about starting up an independent SWR Forum that would be free of the whims of internet moguls. She said yes!
Caroline: I started using the SWR Yahoo Group in 2006. There were many valuable files. What happened to them?
Becky: I saved files as an SWR mom before the Group was deleted. A few [actually, quite a few] are now in the SWR Resource Center. However, many are lost for our use.
Caroline: A lot of questions and answers have been made on Facebook. Now there is the SWR Forum & Resource Center. Why did you make the move?
Wanda: Because it’s a different platform.
Becky: The new Forum is all SWR so there are no distractions. You can get in and get your questions answered. The structure is optimized for SWR! Files, aka Resources, are so much easier to find!
Caroline: How is Facebook limiting–what are the drawbacks of using it as a forum?
Wanda: Facebook is designed to bring you in to whatever they want you to see.
Becky: [Social media sites often have uncontrollable ads.] The SWR Resource Center videos are ad free! You may safely show them to children at home or in classrooms without worrying about nasty surprises on the screen!
Becky: [Another drawback of the Facebook group is that it must be moderated to make sure members are there for Spell to Write and Read.]
Caroline: I’ve noticed it’s easy to find information on topics in the SWR Forum & Resource Center with files in certain categories. Facebook is hard to trace; sometimes one topic goes everywhere. It is so much more confusing, even more than Yahoo Groups!
Becky: The search in the banner of the Forum & Resource Center is a powerful tool that searches the whole site. It will show you results in the Resource Center [currently labeled “Blog Posts” due to software limitations] as well as Forum Discussions and replies.
There is a system of “tags” in the Resource Center that will give you a list of Resources on a given topic. [Click here for the Topic Grid.] The Forum also offers the opportunity to select topic tags for any new Discussion before it is posted.
Caroline: That’s great! I can see you have put in a lot of effort to make the Forum user-friendly.
Caroline: I see that the Forum is now free. Some people think this is a trick and you’ll start charging. Can you tell us about this?
Becky: Yes, initially the Forum Membership level was a cup-of-coffee-a-month. Now we want to make people feel welcome who are coming in from the Facebook group that was free. For the future, I don’t see a need to charge for that again unless the site is not paying for itself. I’m not trying to trick anybody. We want people to be able to get in and ask their questions and have the support they need to be able to use the curriculum.