Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reflecting on the progress of the CLC so far

Yesterday I had a meeting with Diana Khabbaz, Barbara Campbell and Stephan Ridgway to discuss the progress of this network, partly because a progress report is due on Friday, and partly because I've been feeling that the network is a bit 'stuck'.

The network isn't as vibrant as we would have hoped.

I think this is for a range of reasons. Exploring these reasons provides an opportunity to discover some of the possible barriers to implementing a networked learning model in educational environments.

Some of the possible reasons we discussed in the meeting were:
  1. It may be that more conversation would be stimulated if this blog was more active and posted to more often. I think the more blogging the better, but at least one or two posts a week may be the minimum required to keep the energy up.

    This is my responsibility as I have had difficulty finding the time and the motivation to blog. I will endeavour to up my posting rate, but the other solution is to open this blog up to other contributors. I will take steps shortly to begin this process.

  2. With a few notable exceptions, not many other members are participating. This is not a judgement - just an observation.

    As Dawn Foster says in her excellent Web 2.0 Starter Kit:
    You will not truly understand web 2.0 unless you participate in it.
    And for this distributed learning network model to work, members have to contribute by posting to their own blogs, comment on each other's blogs, subscribe to each other's blogs, RSS feeds and del.icio.us feeds, add resources to the wiki, develop and link to tutorials, podcasts, screencasts etc, and maybe even give some online presentations.

    In yesterday's meeting we discussed at length why people may not be contributing. One of the main reasons we came up with was that simply many of us - project facilitators and teachers alike - are time-poor and suffering overload, exhaustion and burnout. Many people are engaged in multiple projects, each of which can have many expectations in terms of writing learning plans, attending meetings, providing evaluations, documenting through blogs, podcasts, wikis etc. And this isn't including engaging in what the project is actually about!

  3. Leading on from point 2) is the issue of numbers in the network required to 'make it happen'. In any online environment only a tiny percentage of members contribute - some say as little as 1% according to the 1% rule - with another group - perhaps 10% to 20% - contributing occassionally, and the bulk of the members consuming/reading/listening/lurking.

    This is fine, and to be understood and expected in online environments, but we must account for this. This may mean that in order for a network such as this to reach a 'critical mass' where a lot of posting, conversation and interaction is occuring we need many more numbers than we have now.

    I've already done a lot of promoting of the network, and I was pleased and relieved when we had a respectable number add their names and photos to our Frappr map, and their names and online spaces to the member's page on the wiki, but I have to admit I would rather spend the limited time I have to work on this project facilitating rather than promoting.

    The E-learning Networks online event next week will provide further exposure to the network, and Wendy Zammit will be feeding students into the network from her very popular Communicating with Online Technologies course for teachers she is running at Sydney Institute of TAFENSW.

    Perhaps it's just a matter of time too.

  4. I didn't realise how much work would be involved in getting such a network up and running. This type of network is not automatic. It's not just a case of setting up a group-centric tool such as a a mailing list, forum or EdNA group. It really requires constant nurturing by the facilitator through posting, visiting other's blogs and commenting, bookmarking resources etc. The hours that I can personally put in to this are limited. In an educational situation the teacher can simply say that students must produce content (such as blog) in order to pass assessment. Hopefully by opening up this blog to other contributors this workload will be distributed a bit.
So, we'll keep plugging away, try a few new things and see what happens!

(Photo of barnacles by Naotake Murayama)

14 Comments:

Blogger Mark van Harmelen said...

Please see this post as well.

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