I am inspired to write today for a couple of reasons:
a) the learning I am gaining from my participation in the Facilitating Online course at Wikieducator. (the prescribed activities in particular and the links to the blogs of other participators – to help shape my planning and research)
b) the truisms provided in this article at O’Reilly.net on Building Online Communities. (I liked this opening truism from Chromatic: Cultivate a community, and you’ll attract eyeballs and ears willing to read and to listen to your message. Encourage discussion, and you’ll attract people willing to share their own messages.)
During the initial weeks of ‘drawing in eportfolio enthusiasts’ I am learning the power of discussion once more as the conversations ramp up another notch here. I am mindful of the many facets of the role of the facilitator and find that I have an immediate urge to answer these from my perspective straight away. Allowing the group to ‘shape’ the conversations is a necessary part of the building of community so some ‘holding back’ is also necessary.
This next truism from Chromatic was a real AHA moment for me as we move to the next phase of the building of the EpCoP:
You must know why your site exists. Otherwise, you cannot judge the effectiveness of any policy. Worse yet, how will visitors know if they want to join the community? What benefit does a user derive from participating? Why should anyone care? Without an underlying goal, it’s extremely difficult to guide users in constructive ways.
So that leads me to this question: Why will our EpCoP exist?
One way to explore that in real time is to discuss our purpose in our first meeting. Another way is to include that question in some observations and conversations happening any time.
There are some national drivers behind the establishment of this EpCoP including those of the funding and guiding body, Australian Flexible Learning Framework (AFLF), through the E-portfolios and E-Standards , as well as those drivers that exist within the groups and networks.
What I’m most interested in is finding out what drivers exist in the individuals who have joined or will join the EpCoP in the future. I suspect that there will be layers of interest and layers of participation depending on what will work best for the individuals. For example, followers of this blog may choose to leave comments or tweet about it, for that short grab; others will want to have those deeper conversations with others; and as we develop a web space, there will be many more who wish to find resources, links, opportunities, networks and learning on a ‘choose your own’ basis.
So to clarify, this blog enables the short grabs; the conversations enable the deeper immersion and the web space will provide a launching place for other connections.
So what will appeal to you? What reasons for existence of the EpCoP will appeal to you?