Does the world need one more online community?

Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

I love open online communities. I mean, I really love them. More and more, I find value in the conversations and sharing in these communities, much more so than in other content resources. This is the way learning should be.

Mostly, these communities for me exist in places like Twitter and G+.

In spaces where there isn’t strong community or that the community is only episodic (for example, with P2PU courses or some MOOCs), I really miss it.

So when I started thinking about some new plans to increase awareness of OER and open learning, starting an online community of practice was a natural. There are a lot of reasons this makes good sense. It’s a deeper means of engagement than conference presentations or other tradition awareness building activities. It is more authentic and has an opportunity to address some real challenges educators face. It has the possibility to be self-sustaining.

But then I thought “Does the world need one more online community?

Yes and no, I think. Yes, because there is no better way to learn and grow than through community, and many folks aren’t on Twitter and G+. In fact, one of my concerns about these spaces is that many conversations are dominated by “the choir.” If you want to reach new, mainstream, and especially not as connected audiences, this is a tough way to do it.

No, because, well, there are a lot of community spaces already out there, all fighting for attention.

Thoughts?

5 Comments on Does the world need one more online community?

By Greg McVerry on October 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I would shoot for a happy medium. Make a new hub, a digital archive of the community. Then allow the community to distribute across Twitter, Google+, pinterest. So you build out your OER digital hub but allow it to interweave through existing affinity spaces where teachers gather.

Allow folks to register for the digital hub but by in no way make it mandatory. I should be able to lurk and poach OER without having to join.

If your hub is compelling enough to me, if I see it growing in my other spaces. I may just join. Then I may just contribute. My contributions would then be shared through my networks. Maybe then some folks I connect with might then join. The key is make the barriers to membership low and rewarding.

By Ian O'Byrne on October 25, 2013 at 5:10 am

Great post Karen. What we’re talking about here is culture, or at least development of culture. The challenge is that not everyone that we want to be in the culture is at the same level of discourse and skill set. I explained a bit in my email…but I’ll bang out a blog post to try and make it clear.

Thanks again for pushing my thinking.

By Philipp Schmidt on December 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hey Karen –

As usual, thanks for an insightful post. And a timely one as well -> We’ve just gone through a long strategy process for P2PU and this is the direction we are shifting to. A lightweight community of practice that persists and connects to experiments that are more transient. A resource hub of tools, practices, research that make it easy to get started. Support and inspiration from others who are doing interesting things in the space. You are one of the pillars (and have been for a long time) of the P2PU community, so hopefully we can work together to fill the need you identify.

By karen on December 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

After talking to lots of folks about an online community of practice for OER in K-12, it seems as though 1) People think this is an idea worth pursuing. 2) While partnering with an existing community would be preferable, hosting our community on a proprietary (“closed”) site is not acceptable. Unfortunately, most of the potential partner sites we looked at were nings.

As such and in order to try to avoid being “one more community,” I am currently thinking of a site that relies on aggregating content from a variety of sources (e.g. personal blogs, Twitter, G+, etc.) and supplements that with some lightweight forums for community discussion. A WordPress/Buddypress site is a likely solution to that.

The next likely steps are to outline some possible forum topics and useful content; to identify who might be interested in what roles in this project; and to begin sketching out a prototype.

If you’re interested in participating in some way, let me know and/or stay tuned to this blog for updates.

By Reflecting on my year of open – part 2/K-12 OER COP - K12 Open Ed on December 12, 2014 at 9:09 am

[…] design decisions we wrestled with, including whether to house this as a separate space (see “Does the world need one more online community?“) and whether to use open tools vs. a proprietary space like G+ or […]

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