Sunday, August 2, 2009

3rd August: What is an online community?

During this course we will be looking at how we function as facilitators in the context of online communities. We'll be looking at communities that use blogs, wikis, Second Life and other modes of online communication. But before we launch ourselves off into the ether, we must consider what an online community is.

What is an online community?
You will hear educationalists use the term "online community" to refer to communities of practice, classes, groups, professional bodies, teams, networks, you name it - they have all been referred to as communities at some stage, and when they predominantly operate through the Internet they are called online communities.

But what is an online community really - especially if we want to relate the words to their true and common meaning? Is it a group of people who communicate online, and through that connection they share a sense of belonging and responsibility for one another? Is an online community like this necessary for work teams, classes, professional bodies and all those other things that have been called communities?

Things to do
You have the next two weeks to look at these links:
  • Groups and Networks - video of Stephen Downes 2006. You will need a broadband connection speed to view this video, and I suggest you open the link, press play and then press pause for 10 minutes or so as to let the video load ahead some. Same technique for dial up, but wait much longer on pause.
Write a blog post
Referring to at least two of the items above, write a post to your blog that summarises what they say about online community. Conclude with your own list of at least three forms of evidence that YOU would look for when determining an online community.

Give feedback as a comment on the blog post of at least one other participant from this course.

Course meeting
Attend a meeting to collaboratively develop a list of features to look for when identifying an online community, and to begin a discussion on how such communities would benefit from facilitation services. We will use this list when looking for online communities later in the course.

I will let you know later in the week when/where the meeting will be. To give me a rough idea of when you prefer to attend a live meeting, can you tick the very quick poll at the top right hand corner of this blog.

Extra resources
You can find extra resources to enhance your learning if you click here on the course wiki.

Getting started
Most participants are up and running with their blogs, so drop in and say 'hello' to as many people as you can. You may find that you can't keep up with everything that everyone is writing, and may choose to keep in close contact with a smaller number of participants. Feel free to do what ever suits your style of learning. However, the more interaction you become involved with, the more you will learn.

If you're lucky, someone may work out a way of collecting everyone's blog posts in one 'easy to read' space like Mike Bogle did last year :)


Image: 'flickr contacts - March 28, 2005 {notes}' striatic


Chris Woodhouse said...

I like the idea of trying to find the best time for a meeting. I would like to have voted for two - your morning and evening choices. Lunchtime and early afternoon will find me tucked up in bed pushing out the zzzzzzs. That's your lunchtime and afternoon ;-)

And you might need to run the vote again once clocks change. Ours go back at the end of October so by then you'll be 13 hours ahead of the UK instead of 11.

Don't be fooled by the apparently new email address - I have a Gmail account and any Google services detect my logged on. All email ends up in my Outlook inbox(es).

Chris Woodhouse said...

I've had a go at imitating Mike Bogle's Pagecast from last year. There's an entry about it in my blog (, and you can find the pagecast here

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for setting up that pageflakes page - will make it much easier for everyone to follow each other's blogs.