I'm having a musing Thursday. I'm currently involved with developing an online community presence which is looking at a number of different touchpoints and engagement techniques to bring audiences in. This includes the experience of registration and login, public and private profiling, tailored content presentation as well as community/group moderation protocols and processes etc, etc.

I'm working with a team who do not have knowledge of or experience with 'learning' (elearning/learning technologies...pick your preferred term) as a reason for online engagement and each time I mention 'learning' or even 'social learning' I get very blank looks.

So I was wondering if there is an underlying principle that learning happens if like-minded users get together on line or whether I need to push for more explicit referencing to learning as an activity that is separate from other types of online contact. For example, 'I need to find...' or 'Can anyone help...?'. Is it about giving the learner themselves a space to log or track what they perceive as a learning record?

Interested to know if anyone has ideas or experiences of bringing learning into community environments as the new child or outsider? (if any of the above makes sense!)

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From a quick reading of your post my first question is: what is the purpose of the online site and who owns it?

Secondly, don't talk about learning and certainly not about social learning. Avoid all training terms and jargon.

Try going back to needs and then it will all follow gradually is my guess,

good luck

Thanks Edward. This is within Education and going back to needs and thinking about who is actually going to be using the site is always a good reminder.
We all learn all the time - whether we realise or not - learning doesn't just happen formally or even informally but even unconsciously. The community should be about doing or achieving something - not learning - that's just part of the process of getting there! Learning is not the goal per sa just the means to achieving the goal
Thanks Jane. Of course I agree with that principle. I suppose I'm just aware that where we are dealing with an information heavy site with 'community' on the side that we not missing a trick by better signposting for 'busy' users who have differerent motivations for visiting the site, including finding out about something new and being able to share with others and record for themselves.

I don't think I've articulated this very well (!)

Hi it's a tough one. At work my colleagues aren't learning professionals but some have engaged with online communities/social learning inadvertantly by asking for support delivering on-line Forums, Communities of Practice and Knowledge Management platforms - it's all just jargon, but it's a more socially acceptable jargon for professionals focussing on delivery. Each one is project specific  and some have a life span dependent upon goals, the learning, when it occurs is not always overtly commented on. If that makes sense (I'm not sure it does) but the hook to enagage people has been the promise of improved delivery and the 'learning' that has taken place has often been a pleasant suprise to participants.



I would agree with Jane's argument that the learning is almost an aside. The forums/communities I have been involved in have always been about discussion 'around' a subject or topic, indeed the tangents at which people fly off can be totally unrelated. There is however a compulsion among users to be drawn into these discussions and to be involved where perhaps they would otherwise sit it out - I can't explain the mental decision-making that goes on there but even the quietest voice chooses to be heard on a forum.


Avoiding the term learning is difficult when you're trying to 'sell' to someone - especially the education sector - perhaps get them involved in a forum/community themselves to see just how engaged they get. After that let them know how they have managed to learn informally not least of all the skills needed to part of an online community(!)



Hi Kath


Seems like Communities are becoming a hot topic!  I've had the privilege of speaking about them and how important they are to learning (I agree totally with Jane - the focus needs to be on the organisation's needs and how they are realised - both by the organisation itself and by individual members of it) .  I have just started a series of thoughts about the nature and place of community in the modern organisation on my blog (http://bit.ly/mRgeeW).  Maybe there's something there that helps - and watch this space!  As a first clue I believe it is critical to look at the nature of the organisation and its alignment to community - then the platforms that are appropriate will become clearer.  If the starting point has to be a learning intervention (I hate those words!) then developing a community amongst the learners will certainly enhance both the quality of the learning and its application into the workplace afterwards - but the BIG item here is to design the learning intervention within the context of community, not as an afetr thought or a "component"  



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