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E Learning Communities

I am currently embarking on a course on the topic of e-learning communities. It is very early days so and I still feel rather bemused by the possibilities. However, we have been directed towards some good resources. For instance: The Art of Building a  Virtual Community:  I like the visual representation of  linking, lurking, learning and leading as components of an elearning community.  Apart from anything its easy to remember! It also identfies that there is a leader who holds it all together – this is contrary to a feeling I was getting that in these communiteis there is equality where everyone shares equally… a hopeful dream! In Derek’s model, the leader is referred to as a ‘commentator’. The community develop a culture – no doubt this will depend to a certain extent on the style of leadership shown.

We have now had the opportunity to hear Sheryl talk about her article and more! Great summary of a range of ideas that are central to coming to terms with the facets of Virtual communities. I particularly liked the the 4 types of virtual communities. These were: communities of relationship (trust); community of place (based on locale ) community of passion (committment to common goal; interest) community of memory (been through a common event). 

Great to hear some ideas about how to begin a community – this should belong in my section on Warm ups!! (or ice-breakers??) Hot or cold at the beginning – I am sure that there is an essay ini all of that!  The idea that there needs to be an incentive to get people motivated to sign up is important; the idea of an inspiring lecture from someone of note; facilitating a conversation about the central topic – begin with questions that are safe ie. people can respond on the basis of their own experiences.; could begin with simple ideas like introducing yourself – however, if there’s a big group that can become tedious…. I quite like the idea of posting your holiday snapshots (thanks Leigh for that idea!) or something similar so that the group gets a better visual idea of the life of other participants. Is a community of practice equal to a course or is it really only appropriate when people join up because of common interest?  Response was the if the community keeps on after the course, then it is may become a sharing community  – for its own sake rather than having to pass assignments. Of interest, there seems to be a big jump from the slide that talks about the various types of communites (see above) to the next one which refers to communites of learning (not mentioned on the slide about types of communities.) In fact, Sheryl suggested that learning environments were not true ‘communites’ Is this because  the ultimate purpose is to pass an assignment (an external motivator) and learn how to use the technology so that students have the skills to join an e-community? This would compare to being part of a community so that you can make connection with people for your own purposes – eg. professional issues, interest in crabs, cartoons or crafts …….. etc…

As with any learning community, the getting started and inspiring everyone right from the start is important. I am still waiting to get the feel of how to do this but am sure that others will have tried and tested ideas. Have now had some ideas about this following Sheryl’s discussion – I keep coming back to the idea that developing a virtual community is actually no different in principle than developing any sort of community. This feel like a SGO! (Stunning Glimpse of the Obvious).

Following the teleconference tonight (Aug 9th) with Oriel and others, I discussed my general feeling of being ‘out of control’ and wondering where the course was going. I was reassured that this is normal at this stage. Well, I don’t know about this – educationally it does not seem to be very sound and while I don’t expect to be proficient in the various e-learning strategies I would like to feel that I am making progress. I believe that clear parameters are the hallmark of any educational programme. Perhaps the clarity will evolve and I will be surprised. I hope so! Watch this space!

Just come across a resource that looks useful. ENO the ELearn Magazine. More about it later once I get a chance to review it properly.

A very good resource from Konrad Glogowski who spoke to the class using Elluminate. This is about instructional scaffolding in developing elearning communities. His talk was titled “Classrooms as 3rd Places”.  This explained well the need to develop a learner centered environment as the hallmark of such a community. He used the same arguments as those who promote student centred teaching in classrooms but it was interesting hearing some of the reality of this – how to get started, developing trust and confidence in being a elearner and the role of the teacher in all this. Clearly he was speaking from experience.

I happened to look up information about being client centered from another perspective and came across a list of characteristics of student centered teaching based on Carl Rogers work. This was in the Wikipedia – where else! I particularly like this quote:  “Students will collaborate on meaningful, authentic problems which serve to further their understandings of the subject matter and themselves”. It’s a reminder that this concept has been around for a long time. I wonder if its any easier to implement in ebased learning when compared to classroom teaching?

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August 9, 2007 Posted by | E learning communities | , | 9 Comments