Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn

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Trying to define community
By Barbara Bray    January 11, 2008 -- 08:00 AM

I find myself in so many different communities that I am not sure what or how you define what a community is. Maybe there are multiple types of communities depending on the purpose and shared vision of the members of that community. I created a presentation about purpose (Learning Communities for Different Purposes) and plan to keep adding to it. Pretty soon, thereíll be more co-authors adding content about different communities, purposes, etc.

Purpose is important but there are many communities that are just floundering without participation.

My family is my main community. I always touch base with my husband,  children, mom, sisters. Then my friends who I donít get to see enough. My neighborhood (where Iíve lived for over 30 years) is very close. We have parties, walk and talk, and help each other if one of us goes out of town. Thatís kind of rare now. None of these communities are online except for email or sometimes eCoach.

I always go into My eCoach because I love it. I am excited about what people are doing here. Now that more and more eCoaches are setting up and managing their own teams, I can sit back and watch and support the eCoaches. Itís pretty cool to login and see people sharing ideas, creating projects. We are seeing so many exciting projects but many of the teams are using the team tools for confidential purposes. In these cases, the whole eCoach community doesnít see whatís going on.

But thereís still communities within the larger community there.

I also go into Twitter daily. Itís one of my communities. What I like about it is not learning what people are doing at each moment but the sharing. I embedded my Twitter into the sidebar of this blog (public view).

What Iím finding is that my community is kind of like a city:
  • my immediate family I see everyday or email, call or visit my children, sisters, or mom as much as I can
  • my extended family who I email or talk to on the phone or get together  occasionally for special events
  • my neighborhood who I see when I go on my walks or when we have meetings or parties
  • my friends who I see when we schedule time or email or call or go on trips together
  • My eCoach community that is very diverse - as you see Iím in eCoach most of the time because many of the people here are my friends or Iím the eCoach or Iím developing curriculum (I love doing this) or creating tips or blogging or .... could go on because eCoach is growing and changing.
  • my Twitter because Iím learning from the other twitterers. I am trying to limit who Iím following. Some people are more excited about the numbers than who the people are. My twitter gets too cluttered with info I donít need so that can be a concern for those that keep following people just to increase the numbers.
  • other social networking places like LinkedIn, Facebook.
  • my CUE (Computer Using Educators) family - I write the professional development column and go to the conference and try to keep in touch with everyone. This next issue coming out is about the 30th anniversary so will be fun to reminisce.
  • Blogging community - Iím trying to connect with others I respect, link so added links to many bloggers I admire on the sidebar (public view). Iím sure Iím missing some people and need to add more.
  • Google groups - I am a Google Certified Teacher (NorCal) and try to follow the emails and threads. Itís getting too much for me. I get lost.
Oh - I could go on and on. Iíve joined so many social networking sites that I canít remember them all. I end up going back to My eCoach because itís comfortable for me. Itís just easier to make a survey here instead of using another tool like SurveyMonkey. I needed a way to disaggregate the data and control it from one site. I needed to have each stateís standards available for projects instead of going to each state and copying from a word or pdf document. I needed a website builder that was flexible and collaborative. If people are comfortable with the tools they are using, thatís all that matters. However, if they are inviting people to join their community, they need to make sure that community works for their members.  I needed a way for people to have control so created team management tools.

One thing Iím trying to do is listen to the people using eCoach. Whatís working - whatís not working. Weíre trying to make it so it works for the members and because weíre small enough (not Google), we can make changes based on priorities and what will benefit most of the members.

Oh - yes. There will be more tools - more communities starting everyday on the web. Especially now with budgets waning. People are going to want to do more themselves especially educational technologists. Be careful of jumping on board unless you do a lot of research and check it out. There are a lot of free tools out there that wonít be free later or they have lots of ads on them or they are preparing to sell the site. Many of these free tools may go away.

Not eCoach - once you join, you always have access to your projects, your stuff. Thatís important! If you spend a lot of time adding resources, creating projects, Iím sure you want to know that you will always have access to them. Iím looking at ways to bring in sponsors, find other revenue sources. If you have ideas, send them my way.




Categories: "Web 2.0" "Professional Development" "Community" "Collaboration" "Blogs, Podcasts, Rss"



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