An online community of practice Reflective Learning Lynne Gibb Coonara Community House
Wenger’s Description Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
“The dove is a bird of peace and therefore when we reflect in our COP it is a safe area. When we are speaking in it people can speak openly and freely without fear of judgement and criticism”.
“The bird is flying and I can fly too – I can be carried on the back of everybody in the group!”
The Project • Could we effectively deliver a unit from the Community Services training package via an online community of practice? • Along the way, explore the concept of technology stewarding along the lines proposed by Wenger, White & Smith in “Digital habitats: stewarding technology for communities”
The students • Seven Diploma of children’s services students • Beginning the course – first unit • Technology skills audit indicated – 2 advanced ,4 moderate , 1 basic computer skills (home support) • All had computer access and broadband at home • All students currently employed in the early childhood/child care industry either P/T or F/T
What actually happened? • Students became overwhelmed with the amount of new technology to learn in a short space of time and right at the beginning of the course
What did we do? Phew!!! Happy me!!
How did we do it? Reflecting publicly, sharing information/networking, Asynchronous discussion input from industry experts Resources for whole course Input from & dialogue with industry experts Reflecting privately
General Class Wiki Introductory 2 X 3hr sessions F2F
CoP Wiki http://openhouseopenlearning.coonarahouse.org.au
Elluminate Support Sessions 1 x 3hr intro session F2F followed by 5 x 1 hour sessions in Elluminate
What worked well in the learning? The Reflective Practice unit suited the C of P model Having another facilitator in some elluminate sessions Student access to Industry experts (IE) IEs appreciatedhaving direct input into student learning Students enjoyed learning in elluminate Reflecting in personal wikis
Lessons learned • Give students more time to learn the technology • Plan to use less technology – concentrate on the c of P • Some students were initially confused about what to do in which wiki
Technology Stewarding? Tech Steward (TS) role important Tech steward can concentrate on technology and support student /trainer technology needs Assist in online classroom, designing spaces etc Facilitator can concentrate on facilitating & supporting student learning
Possibilities • Keep the C of P open with input from industry experts for the rest of the course • Expand the C of P to include Diploma of Children’s services students in other ACE organisations in the Outer east • Expand the network to include Dip Children’s Services students in ACE organisations statewide • Open the C of P to more industry experts from a variety of early childhood industries.
Alternatives to Ning • http://www.mixxt.com/ • http://www.socialgo.com • http://grouply.com • http://wall.fm