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August 04, 2008


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Hi Amy, You said: "There was some "push-back" to Bron's comments on the list, for all sorts of reasons, but there were also those who agreed with her. What do you think is important in this conversation?"

I didn't push back, bit I'm not at all sure I agreed with Bron. Imagine a bunch of art students arriving at a class. They need oil paints, canvas, sharpened brushes, pencils, thinners etc.

There needs to be a conversation about getting started. In some respects this is low level training maybe (however much I hate that word).

Who does this? Can we be left to mill around ourselves following a quick set of guidelines? Or do we all do it all together . . Or something else.

In a distributed course like this you cannot have a conversation about the higher level ideas unless the lower level stuff is sorted. The conversation I don't think has been seduced - it's just had two threads. And the community conversation has not (officially) really started anyway.

Also: "I'm a tech-lover myself, and absolutely revel in this kind of technological exploration and comparison, but I've found it's helpful to hold these conversations within a separate thread so they don't dominate the more community-oriented conversation, which they otherwise tend to do."

Hmm. Thread? Maybe a whole different forum. I think there is a difference between "I'm lost" (followed by some sort of musing/reflection or "How do I get the RSS feed going?" which really needs a managed FAQ. We have here all these in one thread.

Your final comment: "One key piece, for me, is a question about what we're up to here."

Good question.

"If we are trying to create the conditions for community to emerge, then having so much focus on the technology right up front maybe isn't the best idea." I must check this, and have a loot at the goals - because if this is the case, there is definitly not enough glue (and that's an Etienne Wenger term) to really see something emerge like a ''community'.

"This co-emergent model of community is kind of messy and even chaotic as I alluded to in an earlier post, but it's authentic and for us, it's reality. That's got to count for something. :-) "

I like the term free range learning. What will benefit us all a lot is if buddy groups actually sprout up. The technology does not help here unless we have a mental habit to match, amd maybe even some special inner resilience to dee through the chaotic phase. I wonder what is best: designing in buddy groups or chaos/emergence??

End of pre-coffee morning musings, even though I have not responded to every interesting & relevant thought here in these fragments. You talk a lot about the whole and the group in your post on the list that brought me here. You mentioned the play between course and community. I'm neither. I'm just here for interest. I don't think community will emerge. Relationships. Interactions yes.

Amy Lenzo

Brilliant response, Derek! Thanks for sharing such a thought-provoking perspective. I love finding people who think differently than I do because it opens whole new worlds.

I totally agree with you, by the way, that in this group we absolutely needed to sort out the basic technology pieces right away. I was a little surprised that so much of that piece was left to chaos/emergence rather than being more handled/facilitated, to be honest. It wouldn't have been that hard to do. This "free range" (I like this!) learning style was actually more interesting for me, but I probably wouldn't have suggested it as the model for any "beginning" level group.

In my own experiences with online learning it's been important to have the technology be as seamless as possible because having it be "in the way" is a sure participation depressant. But the perseverance factor is no doubt stronger here, given the topic.

And I'd love to see a bunch of buddy groups spring up! I need some buddies too! :-)

Joao Alves

"Community is not about technology, it's about people, and when the focus of the conversation is too centered on the technology it draws attention and energy away from the whole and our ability to create or facilitate community together."

I agree with this but I wouldn't take the more technological conversation of the first week so serious. As I said in the mailing list, the conversation about all those tools was part of the assignment of the first week and so it was normal to discuss about them. It was a bit difficult to cope with all the participants' blogs (this was part of the assignment) but once this issue was resolved, setting up an RSS Reader would not be a problem for all of us, especially after the idea of having buddies to help the newbies. I agree though that it could have been a bit more relaxing experience if things had been facilitated differently but I am far from daring to mention the word "chaos" in this matter.
From week two on it's very important that the conversations are not centered on technology but on the subject that really matters. I would worry, if this week the conversations were still about technology. As you said, "community is not about technology, it's about people," it's about sharing a common interest.
Like Derek said, I don't think there will be a community coming out of this group but, like you, I do hope that there will be a bunch of buddy groups emerging, too.

Amy Lenzo

Thanks Joao! The reason I placed so much importance on those initial conversations was exactly because they were the first interactions in this group.

First communications are, in my view, very important. Just like "first impressions" in "real life" they set the tone for the conversation or interaction that ensues. I'm very interested in how one creates a sense of "welcome" online, a safe space for people to be together.

After my initial disorientation, I found I was personally quite stimulated by the somewhat chaotic experience (I'm not afraid of the word :-), so I'm not saying it was "wrong" in any way. I was wondering what the effect would be on people who are newer to the technology, and I 'm curious to see what the "big-picture" result will be.

But I don't think we can know that yet - it's something we may look back on when this course is over and hopefully learn from together.


Hello Peoples,

I like the idea of having a buddy. Am I supposed to have a buddy? Because I don't have one! I would like a buddy who is in my time zone neighborhood of Central Standard Time. It would open a larger window for scheduling meetings. I'd also like to experiment with bringing several buddies together in a gmail groupchat.

So what are we waiting for? Pass the word around.

PS - I think there is plenty of technology and that it is more important now to be creative with it and try pushing it to the limits as a community. This blogging is great. It's a lot of extra work to do all this cross posting but I love the freedom and control it allows me.

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