Pownce: selective sharing
Pownce is going to be the next big thing on the Net, so let's be prepared and see how it can be used for teaching English.
But first of all, what is it? Pownce lets you share links, news, images, events, even files (up to 10 MBs in the free version) with your fellow Powncers (or the whole world). They will also be able to respond. The great thing is that you can create groups of your friends/partners and choose who gets to see what.
Let's see how Pownce is different from other, already existing services. You could use e-mail to send the information you want to share. But if you send messages to a lot of addresses, it can get cumbersome; plus, chances are that at least some of your recipients' spam filters will be triggered. In Pownce, you just choose the group "colleagues" to send a note about a staff meeting, "family" to share that photo from your honeymoon, and "hard rock fans" to show your fellow enthusiasts what you're listening to.
If you're a teacher and you already have a blog, of course, you can give your students all the links there. But file sharing is much easier in Pownce; plus, each group (or even student) only has to see what is relevant to them - they don't have to sift through all your posts for your other classes.
So, the uses of Pownce for teachers are obvious: create separate groups for all your classes and send them links you want them to visit. Prompt them for feedback - even shy students will be willing to respond, knowing that only you will be reading their responses, not the whole wide world. Or send them images or documents you want them to study and let them discuss them. You can also ask your students to find certain bits of information or the answer to a question and see who gets to post it first. They can also submit their files to you (compositions, writings of any kind) and choose to share them with other students who can reflect on them. Of course, you need to make sure that all your students have a Pownce account - it's free (the pro version for $20/year lets you share files up to 100 MBs and removes the ads). I'm sure you'll be able to think of other uses as well - please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Links to Pownce-related posts and articles (plus a video):
TechCrunch post and comments
Mashable post and comments
DownloadSquad post and comments
Pownce is still in "invitations only" mode as it is very young (less than a month old!), so you should sign up for an invite at the site and wait or find someone who can send you an invite.
Update: I have a couple of new invites so send me an e-mail if you'd like to get one.
Disclaimer: probably needless to say, but here we go anyway: I'm not affiliated with Pownce in any way - I'm just a user there. Also, I don't have an invite to send right now as I've used all six I was initially given. Check back here for updates as more invites might become available and then I'll be glad to send you one.