Sunday, August 16, 2009

Online Communities Part 2

I have done the readings, but left my 'notes' at home, so will just have to put a bit of summary in off the top of my head.

I too found Micheal Wesch's video a mission to complete, and it was a week ago now that I listened to it. I had never considered Youtube to be a 'community' environment, more of a media for sharing your videos etc.But it looks like that is changing. It seems that with these Web 2.0 things, there is often a different way of looking at the uses. The idea of staring at an electronic eye though, to 'communicate and connect' with people was interesting. I personally would prefer the text-based and the verbal communication 'on line' than the web-cam idea- and I am not sure (yet) how Youtube can represent a sense of community in the same way that other, more traditional methods do. Sure, the anonymity suits some people, but there was also talk about the 'mob' versus 'community / group/ aspect'. People maybe get a bit more carried away in a Youtube-like environment, and it's easier to follow the 'mob'. Less restrictions and less formality than a co-ordinated effort such as a forum or discussion group. I guess the differences can also be said to be dependent on the context as well.
Stephen Downes is a bit more organic in his explantions- and even though he was bit biased away from the 'group' way of doing things, I agree that 'networks' are more appropriate for on-line learning (in terms of the discourse). Like Herve- I noted that Stephens 'discussion' was 3 years ago now, and open group-like learning is much more common now. There will always be arguements about Open Learning MS vs. Closed LMS I guess, but dedicated educators at least can keep doing the research and keep people informed (through networks ??). The concept of Dunbar's number though is fascinating, and I am actually surpised that the number is as many as 150. I don't have a FaceBook site, nor do I want one at the moment anyway, but I have heard many comments about the social acceptability of 'how many friends' you have etc etc, the more the merrier it seems, but at what consequence (for younger people especially). Will we be a society that measures our worth on the number of connections that we have made on the Internet? How meaningful are these connections? Will quantity over-ride quality? Does everything have to be 'instant"- I like the idea of forming relationships over time- building trust and using common backgrounds.

"This, That and the Other" presentation ( Mark Marlaro) was a lot more absorbing for me. The idea of a social contextualiser- wow- that we need to be reminded of who we "know"- ""because "this" is making us crazy""...hyperconnectivity-hmm, could end up being a bit of a hype ( remember the days when we wrote letters to our aunties overseas?-this type of communication was planned more,and we waited for weeks-the response was carefully thought out, and we treasured the letter. Today- we do tweets, we post comments on Facebooks, we text and we chat/email- often short, quick and without long, meaningful responses. Because of the abilities of our new hyperconnectivity, and the 'power of the mob', our communications are so different, we move from 'idea to idea' quickly now. What would have been written 6 weeks prior to the Aunties reply would likely be considered no longer relevent by todays teenager. "That"= the sharpness and ease of the connectivity; the method of informing ourselves, the power of the mob. But can we think for ourselves- can we evaluate the usefulness? can we react and collaborate?
This is the "OTHER"- it's now so easy to moan and groan online and not do anything- we are sitting at home complaining to each other about whatever,through Youtube. ""We behave like crowds when we really ought to be organizing like a community"-we need to "Turn the chaos into a co-ordinated approach"".
Of course, these 2 presentations are quite evangelical and possibly need quite a bit consideration in terms of social importance.

In summary, the features that are useful in an 'online community' are:
Context:- a shared understanding of this- with guidelines and common ground/aims/goals, perhaps 'facilitated';
Shared experiences of the technology:-with more than one choice of channel, so everyone can connect;
Active enquiry- participation at levels that everyone feels comfortable with,
A progressive journey with trust and familarity building up over time.


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