The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Online Professional Development: NECC Session 2 Wednesday

Final Frontier: Ignite Professional Development with Engaging Online Learning Communities- Betsy Lowry (Program Director for Online Learning Johns Hopkins University for Technology in Education) and Kristin Mainzer, Director of Online Communications, JHU, Elizabeth Ott, Training Facilitator, JHU

Handouts will be available at the NECC site.

I've chosen this session because I'm interested in knowing more about developing professional learning communities, especially in regards to our upcoming Blackboard Learning Teams project in my school district. Teachers involved in our Blackboard staff development program this summer will have the opportunity to have 10 hours of release time throughout the school year to engage with their colleagues to extend the learning experience and continue to develop their skills as they directly learn from their classrooms.

Build it and they will come. Not necessarily.

Boomerangs: getting people to come back, what are the strategies to get people back

Elements of online communities that draw us back into the community wth regularity

examples: access to experts you don't have normally

Now the group is brainstorming ideas of boomerangs, discussion forums, engaging multimedia, forum for exchange of lesson plans, good organization and design, helps people in their job, trusting their source.

CoP (community of practice) boomerangs:

  • begin clear about the community purpose and expectations
  • offering valuable, fresh resources consistently
  • organizing and promoting a range of engaging community events-make sure its good and don't overdo it, make things available for those once a month individuals and those who visit every week.
  • modeling a positive tone to shape communtiy communication
  • Use a blended approach to promote some face-to-face
  • establishing and enforcing community protocols (members as well as leader expectations)
  • recognizing that there will be a natural moments of community "rest." Should this be scheduled or naturally allowed to occur? (my question)
  • Addressing and solving conflict quickly
  • Nurturing collaboration among work groups and/or teams-organic collaboration-chat rooms, etc. for just-in-time collaboration.
  • Gathering useage statistics and changing facilitation accordingly
  • Soliciting member feedback and striving for continuous improvement

Many in the audience of 150 (maybe 50) have taught an online course.

CoP Potholes:

a hazardous pitfall that can inhip CoP member engagement and the meeting of CoP goals.

What are the potholes?

  • balance community input with leader input
  • not having anything new
  • users outgrowing the need for the community
  • member conflict getting out of control
  • making sure everyone knows how to use the technology
  • perceiving your online CoP as an add-on to the initiative-needs to be an integral part
  • overestimating yor ability of "go the leadership road alone." Involve more that one person.
  • throwing open the dors to a new community to all users before it's ready-best communities have been built by staggering userships, facilitators first, dedicated people second, and then perhaps open it up.
  • Hosting heavy hitters too quickly-don't bring in external experts too quickly
  • Omitting external communication-use all different types of communication, email, chat F2F, etc.
  • Letting the community "run itself" after a while-cannot stop facilitation.
  • Expecting a community to grow quickly-takes at least a year or more in their opinion, build this buy-in time into grants if a grant is the funding source for the community.
  • Stifling member feedback-ask for multiple types of feedback continously.

Avoiding Potholes-the ENHANCE Cycle and ENGAGE strategies

ENHANCE cycle:

  • Establish objectives
  • Navigate a strategic plan
  • Handle implementation preparation
  • Activate your plan
  • Note your optimization opportunities
  • Check community efficacy
  • Execute ENHANCE cycle

BIG IDEA: communities take constant nuturing and their application and their development are cyclical.

Facilliator: evolve the conversation but asking other questions, challenging, just don't blow smoke at people. Encourage others to respond to others-push people beyond their comfort zones.

OTHER IDEAS:Jump start your community with a bang, balance synchronous and asynchronous activities, offer 3-D activities (individual activities, small group activities, and full community activites), Use dierse methods of delivery content, introduce new topics, content and activitis on an appropriate and regular basis, create a 12 month facilitation plan for your community. Create rythum and cycles in your community.

Survey the CoP landscape regularly to identify natural sub-groupings of membership-identify emerging leaders within the subgroups.


create benchmarks

collect useage data regularly

oops, there goes the slide....

Overall Presentation: lists became overwhelming, cognitive overload on PP slides, ran out of handouts

Some good ideas overall, decent presentation, gave me a lot to think about which is good, moved me forward which is the point.

tags necc06 necc2006 necc


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