Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Online communities - trying to walk the talk

Some more reflections from Learning Technologies 2013, this time thinking about Jane Hart's session. I've been involved with online learning for quite some time, steadily developing my ability to design effective e-learning materials in one form or another, but perhaps my most powerful experiences have been through online discussion with peers. I've been part of two communities in this respect: a formal community of enquiry for my Masters course, and of course Jane's own Social Learning Centre, although I must confess I've not had enough time to participate in all the activities that I'd like to!

After so many positive experiences of using informal tools for learning, I've been very keen to start bringing some of the benefits to my own colleagues, but progress has been quite slow, since it's not always seen as a priority. My quick wins here have been to bring in the social tools alongside traditional training events, which Jane identifies as being the 'social training' approach, as opposed to full social collaboration. Amongst my L&D colleagues, I've been able to get some engagement in longer term online communication, but this has been a little patchy without some clear goals to focus on. However, as Jane notes, communities don't have to last forever to be successful.

Where do I go from here? Well, my current module for my Masters module is Research Methods, so I thought that some kind of study of the online interactions we get at work would be a helpful next step, both to learn good research practice and consider ways to encourage and sustain communities, or at least to get the most out of social training initiatives. After several weeks of study and blog posts, I've learned a lot about research methods and online communities, but I still feel like I'm barely scratching the surface - as Jane said in her final step:

"Do not underestimate the time it takes to nurture a group or community"

 Link to my Research Methods blog: http://jimmyhob-el-researchmethods.blogspot.co.uk/