The word &quot;community&quot; rolls off many tongues as a central form for learning. Do we really know what we mean by this? Are there contexts where alternatives such as individual, paired or network configurations would be more useful? What are the differences and how do we discern what to use when? Is it time to jump on or off the &quot;community bandwagon?&quot; Let's explore! http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironrodart/4344037016/
What Im going to share comes from the learning I experienced working with Etienne and John as well as through my own work. As we dug into the PRACTICES of technology stewardship, we realized they were part of a system, a habitat in which a group, community or network interacted. That there were intersections between the defined set of tools in a group and those used by individuals. There were overlaps and disconnects.
The proliferation of internet based tools has expanded what it means to &quot;be together&quot; with others for learning, work and pleasure. We'll explore how we might navigate these spaces and play with a few heuristics you can take back with you.
How do we, as learners, business people, educators and designers decide when to focus on the individual, the group or the wider network? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? How does our choice inform our selection of tools and methods? And what about all the gray area &quot;in between&quot; each of these?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/swissrolli/2167756791/ Uploaded on January 5, 2008 by swissrolli
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27126314@N03/2956992219/ The next stage along the continuum – and I stress that this is a continuum – is the “we” - bounded groups with an explicit shared purpose. As we move from me to we, the purpose may be emergent, fuzzy and we may just be creating the boundaries of the group.
So let's do a little comparing and contrasting of this circular continuum. You can be clear when we talk about the individual, me. We can be clear when we have bounded communities with clear establishment of in/out membership. We can also have communities with fuzzy boundaries, which may even be networks. If there was a subliminal sign flashing across this slide, it would be saying “IDENTITY.” identity shows up differently across this continuum and identity can be linked to purpose and boundaries. http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why_some_social.html (Social-material networks)
These different boundaries influence the power dynamics that occur between people. It influences processes of leadership and other roles. It defines levels of trust and privacy – which are not always closely linked as we move to the network level. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html
Finally, the tools we use can vary across the continuum. We'll talk a bit more about this later.
From a teaching/learning perspective? From a technology perspective? From a process and/or facilitation perspective?
So lets talk a bit more about the mechanics of getting and using triangulated support and learning. We don't have to get through all of them. We can stop and talk, share stories or whatever, at any point. This is not some great, deep theoretical framework, just a perspective from my practice that seems to be resonating when I talk about it with others. So today, that is what I'm offering – something about learning outside the “training box,” that place of formalized offerings that assume the offerer knows what the offer-ee wants and can deliver that in a neat (and often small) package.
The second framework is discussed at length in the book, but I wanted to share it, however briefly, with you. I apologize in advance that I’m going to fly through it pretty quickly…
http://www.flickr.com/photos/angerboy/201582453/ The elements of time and space present a challenge for communities. Forming a community requires more than one transient conversation or having the same job title in completely different settings. The kind of learning that communities of practice strive for requires a sustained process of mutual engagement, and if mutual engagement is the key to learning, separation in time and space can make community difficult. How can a community sustain an experience of togetherness across the boundaries of time and space? How can members experience togetherness through shared activities if they cannot be together face-to-face? How can the togetherness of a few members (a small meeting, a conversation) become an experience the whole community shares?
Technology creates “community time” that defies schedules and time zones, and “communal spaces” that do not depend on physical location. One obvious appeal of technology is its variety of solutions for dealing with time and space to achieve continuity and togetherness: to hold a meeting at a distance, to converse across time zones, to make a recording of a teleconference available, to include people who cannot be physically present, to send a request or a file, or to be up-to-date on an interesting project. In a community version of “time shifting” and even “space shifting,” togetherness happens in a variety of formats that enable participation “anytime, anywhere.”
Members of a community of practice need to interact with each other as well as produce and share artifacts such as documents, tools, and links to resources. Sharing artifacts without interacting can inhibit the ability to negotiate the meaning of what is being shared. Interacting without producing artifacts can limit the extent and impact of learning. Indeed, the theory of communities of practice views learning together as involving the interplay of two fundamental processes of meaning making: Members engage directly in activities, interactions, conversations, reflections, and other forms of personal participation in the learning of the community; members produce physical and conceptual artifacts—words, tools, concepts, methods, stories, documents, and other forms of reification —that reflect their shared experience and around which they organize their participation. (Literally, reification means “making into an object.”) Meaningful learning in a community requires both processes to be present. Sometimes one may dominate the other. They may not always be complementary to each other. The challenge of this polarity is how successfully communities cycle between the two.
Examples of publishing and interacting (or participation and reification.)
Technology provides so many new ways to interact and publish while supporting the interplay of participation and reification that it can profoundly change the experience of learning together. Technology enables new kinds of interactions, activities, and access to other people. It also provides new ways to produce, share, and organize the results of being together – through documents, media files, and other artifacts. Most important, it affords new ways to combine participation and reification. For instance, by providing a web-based whiteboard for a conversation, we are supporting new forms of co-authorship where we casually mix words, images and sounds with each other . Technology also pushes the boundaries of both interacting and publishing for a community. It makes it easier for the work of a community to be opened up to the larger world. It can allow a community to decide whether to publish artifacts and invite comments publicly or to hold them within the private boundaries of the community.
Individuals and groups. Togetherness is a property of communities but individual members experience it in their own ways. Technology provides new opportunities for togetherness, but togetherness can lead to disagreement and the discovery that people see the world (including technology) very differently. Members use the technology individually, on their own. One role of technology is to help manage the complexities of community life and individual participation. Technology can make the community visible in new ways through directories, maps of member locations, participation statistics, and graphic representations of the health of the community. It can provide tools for individuals to filter information to fit their needs, to locate others, to find connections, to know when and where important activities are taking place, and to gather the news feeds from their various communities in one place. In fact, multi-membership is becoming so prevalent that tools to manage the group/individual polarity are becoming an increasingly central contribution of technology.
A crucial point about learning within communities of practice is that being together does not imply, require, or produce homogeneity. Togetherness is a complex state that weaves communal and individual engagement, aspirations, and identities. Some social trends contribute to the tension inherent in this polarity: Increasingly, individuals are not members of only one community; they are participants in a substantial number of communities, teams, and networks—active in some, less so in others. Communities cannot expect to have the full attention of their members nor can they assume that all their members have the same levels of commitment and activity, the same learning aspirations, and therefore the same needs. Conversely, members must deal with the increasing volume and complexity of their “multi-membership” in different communities. They have to find meaningful participation in all these relationships while preserving a sense of their own identity across contexts.
Sliders – as we think about how we pick, design and deploy technology, what sort of intentionality do we want with respect to these tensions? More importantly, how do we use them as ways to track our community’s health, make adjustments in both technology and practice.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the people. What roles are we playing in our communities and networks? What is needed? What is recognized and what still sits unnoticed but alive?
These roles and practices create the conditions that enable people to….
Three roles that I’ve been looking at are community leaders, network weavers and technology stewards. Community leaders are a more familiar role, helping defined groups achieve specific goals over a period of time. “Helping” may mean creating conditions, supporting the emergence of relationships or individual and/or group identity, managing, etc. Network weavers are a new role (See the work of June Holley et al at http://www.networkweaving.com/blog/) – “people who facilitate new connections and increase the quality of those connections.” In between community leaders and network weavers are technology stewards – they show up both in groups/communities AND networks.
Where Am I Aiming? We, Me and the Network - TTIX 2010
TTIX 2010 Where Am I Aiming? Me, We and the Networks Nancy White Full Circle Associates http://www.fullcirc.com @NancyWhite Wiki: http://bit.ly/daOQVL http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironrodart/4344037016/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/3428218606/ Roam the network?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sagarpatil/3684077399/ The “community” word often messes us up.
http://completeinnovator.com/2010/02/09/defining-the-%E2%80%9Csocial-team%E2%80%9D/ In the real world, we associate ourselves with communities to find people of similar interests with whom to interact . These communities are important to define the overall population of socially connected people; but they’re useless as a way to actually get anything done. When we set out to actually achieve something, we abandon the broader “community” concept in favor of focused subgroups of active individuals that are more motivated and able to get things done. Boris Pluskowski
These “Social Teams,” can be massive groups of hundreds, or even thousands of people in an online setting. They are teams on a scale never seen before, and on a playing field of incomprehensible proportions. Team members may never have met each other, but nevertheless choose to work with each other to achieve a mutually desirable goal or function. Social Teams are not top-down, nor bottom-up; they can be purposely set-up, or self-formed by team members; they can exist in purely social settings or as corporate sponsored groups. They are a collection of individuals who have a common understanding of the “game they’re playing” (ie the team’s purpose ); know in which goal they’re trying to score in (ie have a shared understanding of what ‘a win’ looks like); and are collaborating together to achieve that aim . They incorporate the structure of a traditional team, with the social contract of a community. Boris Pluskowski http://completeinnovator.com/2010/02/09/defining-the-%E2%80%9Csocial-team%E2%80%9D/
Communities are: Held together by some common interests of a large group of people. Although there may be pre-existing interpersonal relationship between members of a community, it is not required. So new members usually do not know most of the people in the community. Any one person may be part of many communities. They have overlapping and nested structure. Social Networks are: Held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships between individuals. So you know everyone that is directly connected to you. Each person has one social network. But a person can have different social graphs depending on what relationship we want to focus on. They have a network structure. http://lithosphere.lithium.com/t5/Building-Community-the-Platform/Community-vs-Social-Network/ba-p/5283 Michael Wu - Telligent
Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Personal identity, interest & trajectory Bounded membership; group identity, shared interest, human centered Boundaryless; fuzzy, intersecting interests, object centered sociality (Engeström)
Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Consciousness, confidence level, risk tolerance, styles, emotion Distinct power/trust dynamics, shared forward movement or strong blocking, stasis, attention to maintenance, language Flows around blocks, less cohesion, distributed power/trust, change
Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Blogs, email, portfolios, PLEs, RSS readers,personal media accounts… Forums, wikis, group blogs, LMS, content mgmt systems, platforms… Facebook, ELGG, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia,etc…
<ul><li>What are the implications for you? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How you teach? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design for learning? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Understand curricula & learning agendas? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What your learners need and want? </li></ul></ul></ul>
Where are you currently aiming your efforts? Individual Community Network
Example: Triangulation <ul><li>External support person(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Connection to a domain-related network or community </li></ul><ul><li>Intentional external validation </li></ul>
enable people to… <ul><li>discover & appropriate useful technology </li></ul><ul><li>be in and use communities & networks (people) </li></ul><ul><li>express their identity </li></ul><ul><li>find and create content </li></ul><ul><li>usefully participate </li></ul>
facilitators community leaders technology stewards network weavers Independent thinkers
15% solution Noticing and using the influence, discretion and power individuals have right now. – Keith McCandless
Epilogue Nancy White Full Circle Associates http://www.fullcirc.com @NancyWhite Talk Wiki: Wiki: http://bit.ly/daOQVL http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironrodart/4343303449/in/photostream/
new fabric of connectivity <ul><ul><li>- togetherness and separation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- always on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- virtual presence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- peripherality </li></ul></ul>From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
active technology landscape - interacting and publishing - social/informational computing - semantic web - digital footprint From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
multiple engagement modes - generalized self-expression - mass collaboration - creative re-appropriation - thin connections/weak ties From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
reconfigured geographies - competing spaces - multimembership - dynamic boundaries - global reach From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009