Monday, August 18, 2008

homework weeks 2 and 3

I'm wondering if completing your wk 2/3 homework at the start of week 4 , but BEFORE the working day begins, qualifies as getting it done in time?? Lots of distractions this last couple of weeks (home and work), but I've been doing some reading and thinking about the million $ question: what is an online community? Fortunately one of my distractions has been writing a milestone report for work about my own on-line community so I have a bit to say on the topic! But before it becomes 'all about me' I'll address the wider question.

Just incidentally, the only way I could collect all the thoughts I have on this topic - and what other people have had to say, is to copy and paste quotes from the readings
and the fabulous blogs I'm reading into a word document. I'm not sure if other people work this way - but I'm unable to process everything unless I get it down on paper - A 20th C learner or middle memory problems???

I very much like what Derek said about online communities (and not just because media teachers made it into the formula!):

"Community is about people. With a cause. [eg Educational designer, Clinicalhealth education, Media studies teachers, Non-hodgekinsone lymphona sufferers, waste water engineers] Dare I say some passion and care. Care for the cause and for other people. They need some level of shared experience, history, trust and/or understanding".

I like he said passion and care. It's always been my thought that communities (virtual or otherwise) rise and fall because of the people in them and their CONNECTION with each other. Passion for the shared cause is vital - or they drift off. Care for one another sounds cheesy, but I've seen it work in my own community. People from one end of the country will post a question on the e-mail list or forum and someone they have never met from the other end will offer an answer.

The fact that the answerers are often the same people is also interesting. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach wrote this lovely quote on her blog:

Gathering data is the first step to knowledge and wisdom but sharing data is the first step to community. Henry Gates

I see people step up every day to help others - and those are the people that I see as the building blocks of our community. The PhD abstract Leigh gave us to read (fasinating - a Kiwi in the Andes giving computers to people who had never seen them before!) talked about 'activators of information' - a similar theory I reckon.

But what about the on-line aspect of an on-line community? Technology becomes very important here. I've just surveyed my teachers about their use of the community and barriers to using it - By far the biggest barrier was time, followed a close second by access to the internet (this deserves a whole other post about crappy internet access in this country). I think the time thing is tied up with their perceived notion that using the computer/internet is more time consuming. It's about letting them see that the tools can aid the community, but not I think define it. We are now branching out from a publishing platform - which frankly doesn't encourage sociability into also using a wiki - where I can use web 2.0 tools like voice thread and bubble share photo boards - so they can see and hear each other.
I really like this, from when do you know it's a community?
"Bottom line: Online community building is about the people first, the shared interests or experiences next, and the tools are the means of bringing people together in new ways".
I totally agree
Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Maku e ki atu te tangata, he tangata, he tangata
Ask me "What is the greatest thing in the world?" I will reply, "it is people, it is people, it is people".

cheers - need to get some children off to school now!


Sarah Stewart said...

Hi, just popped by to wish you well with the course. I loved the quote about community being about people and not the tools - a salutatory reminder for me.

Leigh Blackall said...

there really isn't strict deadlines Deb.. the dates are a guide only, to help us who are too easily distracted, or need a little extrinsic motivation. If you fall behind or go ahead, it is actually a good thing for everyone else because when they come to your blog they either get a review or a preview. It is a good idea to keep up with the pace though, its a bit like running with others, if you fall behind you feel behind, and that doesn't feel very nice.

Lorretta said...

Interesting to know.