You can never have too much online community building (activity), but do you wonder about how many online community places there will be? Liking going from a nice scattering of small rural communities to big bustling cities, are we headed down the road to sprawling Megalopoli.
I am criticizing none of these efforts, nor their idea/concept. As I begin my new duties with the NMC, I am going to be involved with creating/promoting, invigorating online communities. Will I add more to the map?
There is Academic Commons. And Education Commons. Places with history like Tapped In. From “down under” is TALO. And (no snarky comments today), Apple’s Education Exchange. Billions and billions of ’em.
There are regional ones (by state, by school, by department).
Some have put up the plywood over the windows, like Washington’s Learning Space.
And the places like PLATO? (Side note: as an undergraduate student in the 1980s, I had a job at University of Delaware as a PLATO online “tutor”- I think I processed quiz attempts. Oh, those green screens!).
There is a whole ecosphere of these things. I am just at a pondering stages at a mostly un-answerable global set of big questions that defy simple answers-
* What is the critical mass / magic moment that turns these from small propped up places to community sustained?
* Are special focused areas better? Or big umbrella type places? Or both?
* What will stimulate someone to add one more internet channel to their busy slate of things they turn attention to?
* Does the technology really matter all that much?
* Are they better focused on events (e.g. a specific online workshop/conference?) or ongoing?
* What do people get out of these? What do they put back? Why do they come? Why do they go?
* What makes one compelling, one ho-hum?
* how important is a tie/connection to a RL (Real Life) place/thing/project?
* Can web based ones work w/o any set up of email notification?
And how the heck do we deal with the information overhead/overload of yet one or two or a thousand more such places?
So I am curious- what sorts of online community based things do you participate in? How many are outside your organization? What is your level of involvement? What would make one something that will sustain your interest.
I am thinking I ought to pack up a suitcase full of chocolate, head northwest, and visit a guru.