April 3, 2007
E-Coaching Tip 41: Stage Three of a Learning Community -- Stimulating and Comfortable Camaraderie
We hope that last week's tip on "edge happenings" -- combined with the story about using live classrooms for team and course gatherings piqued your interest in what you might like to test out in your next online course.
Or perhaps you now can just nod knowledgeably when someone mentions "Moodlerooms", "Second Life, or Citizendium! (Note: The course with all the live classrooms is experimenting with a Virtual Party celebration next week. More on that at some future date!)
As the term is wrapping up, we thought it would be good to return to the theme of this spring's tips -- community and collaboration. In particular, we thought it would be timely to focus on examining the characteristics of a course community that has achieved stage three of a "stimulating and comfortable camaraderie."
Also towards the end of this tip is a link to a video-streamed presentation by Tracy Mitrano from Cornell at a recent Blackboard users group conference hosted by Duquesne in March. Dr. Mitrano shared legal, social and learning aspects about the new social networking applications that are spreading so quickly.
Three Stages of Building Community
In one of the early tips in the spring, we talked about the three stages of building a course community (Brown, 2001). Here they are again as a reminder:
Strategies for Shaping and Evolving Community
The faculty behaviors for shaping and evolving to a Stage Three community are very similar to those behaviors for building community during the middle phases of a course. Those behaviors include the following. Which of these behaviors do you use and find effective? Which ones would you like some tips/examples on?
Faculty Behaviors that Support Stage 3 Community
Some of the behaviors that move a class beyond Stage 2 of mutual acceptance and effective communication to the real commitment and support of Stage 3 include variations of the following. Which of these have you tried?
If you watch your students' postings you can also see evidence of developing personal and professional relationships. Obviously one of the most lasting outcomes of learning and sharing discoveries together is the development of these longer lasting relationships. When we ask our students what their "takeaways" for a course might be, one of those might be professional friendships for the future.
"Intervening Conditions" That Can Hinder Community Development
Are we aiming so high that we set ourselves up for disappointment? Here is a reality check.
In her study on building community, Brown also identified 15 life style conditions that might hinder a group of learners from developing into a vibrant learning community. She called these "intervening conditions" and they include many of the familiar life-style and commitment issues, such as health, work, family, and logistical and technological issues. Some of the conditions that she included that might not readily come to mind include:
What does this reality check suggest? Be patient and understanding with yourself and with your students. Check the list of faculty behaviors for growing and building community and if you are doing many of them, what evolves is what makes sense for a particular group of students. Be sure that you are enjoying the interaction, discussions and learning that is happening and then relax.
Tracy Mitrano - Youth, Privacy and Social Networking Technologies
As mentioned earlier, here is a link to Dr. Tracy Mitrano's presentation -- Youth, Privacy and Social Networking Technologies. http://www.ltc.duq.edu/pghbbug/conference/mar07/program-1.htm
Dr. Mitrano is a historian, lawyer and IT manager at Cornell shares her perspectives on the new technologies and delves into the social, legal and learning issues generated by these new technologies. If you have family or friends with teenagers or young students, you are well aware of how the new technologies such as Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging and YouTube are changing the rhythms and patterns of our everyday communications with friends and strangers. (Note: My biggest change over the last few weeks has been leaving my Skype voice/video (www.skype.com) application open on my desktop so I don't miss a call from my daughter who is off in another country.)
This link includes Dr. Mitrano's introduction by Ruth Newberry, Director Educational Technology at Duquesne and current president of the BBUsers group and a welcome by the Duquesne University Provost, Dr. Ralph Pearson. If you have ready video streaming setup on your computer, it is a pleasure to watch.
What does one take away from this presentation? The new social networking technologies are well on their way to relegating email to formal communications. The new social tools enable more "natural" collaboration, including supporting multidimensional communications. These new tools are also pushing all institutions to have more "transparent" policies on privacy and personally identifiable applications.
What about the impact on learning and the learning community that we have been focusing on? Many surprises are ahead, but what is certain is that the culture of collaboration and sharing will continue to rapidly grow. How will we use these culture shifts to increase learning? What course changes should we explore? For a quick look at the potential benefits for the learning paradigm by integrating web 2.0 features into our courses, a recent article by Malcolm Brown from Dartmouth is good food for thought. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0725.pdf
Notes and ReferencesBrown,M. (2007). "Mashing up the once and future CMS." Educause Review, March/April 2007,42 (2) 8-9. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0725.pdf Accessed April 3, 2007. Brown, R. E. (2001). "The Process of community-building in distance learning classes " Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 5(2): 18 - 35. www.sloan-c.org/publications/JALN/v5n2/pdf/v5n2_brown.pdf. Accessed April 2, 2007. Conrad, R. M. and Donaldson, J. A. (2004). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction. Jossey-Bass (www.josseybass.com).
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