Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …


I recently joined the iFacilitate online course with Greg Walker and have been watching how the participants are lapping up the resources shared and blogging about them. One that I chose this week was this one from Nancy White:

mp3 recording
Nancy White on Networks, Communities, and the Role of Facilitators

I listened to this recording again with interest – it was an Elluminate interview session led by Steve Hargadon that I attended late last year. Nancy gave an engaging and informative interview on the topic of ‘stewarding technology’ and told us about the development of her latest book Digital Habitats. That is a book that I have on my shelf and I was reminded of it by listening to this mp3 recording.

Whilst I was listening I was creating a News article to send to a group of international facilitators for whom I am facilitating a Facilitator Training course. (now that’s a mouthful) I added that information – that I was listening to this mp3 recording – and gave them the link. I noticed from one discussion forum posting this morning that it had intrigued one of the participants and that more information was sought on how to play the mp3 recording. I learned the importance of providing extra instructions for the playing of such files and will now provide that in that forum. However, it was a successful technique to include a link of that type in their daily News item, something they had not experienced before.

The interview with Nancy reminded me to get my copy of ‘Digital Habitats’ off the shelf and read a chapter again. The one I chose was Chapter 5 Making sense of the technology landscape. In this chapter the authors present the key challenges that drive communities to adopt technology as pairs of concepts they call polarities.

  • Rhythms: togetherness and separation
  • Interactions: participation and reification
  • Identities: individual and group

Borrowed from Digital Habitats – thanks Nancy

Several of these polarities, stood out for me as being really relevant for the group I am facilitating .

First – rhythms: togetherness and separation

“time and space present a challenge for communities …. forming community requires sustained mutual engagement over time …. it requires learning together with enough continuity and intensity of engagement that the definition of the domain, the weaving of the community, and the development of the practice become shared resources….”

This is what the international group is experiencing right now in their course with simple technology like discussion forums, online journals and reflective practice. Their knowledge sharing is coalescing and they are building their ‘community’ with enthusiasm and integrity.

Second – Interactions: participation and reification.

“… polarity of participation and reification is a process of meaning-making … fundamental to communities of practice … members engage directly and individuallly in activities, conversations, reflections …. members also produce physical and conceptual artifacts – words, tools, concepts, stories, documents, links to resources, and other forms of reification …. that reflect their shared experience …. literally ‘reification’ means “making into an object” ….

My course participants are now developing a range of artifacts and learning objects that will form an integral part of the facilitator’s resource kit and are already applying their new knowledge and strategies in the courses that they facilitate.

The third polarity has immediate application for my group: Identities: individuals and groups

“… learning together is a complex achievements that weaves communal and individual engagement, aspirations and identities …. learning together often leads to disagreement and the discovery that people see the world (including technology) differently … divergent views are both a challenge and a resource for a community …”

This has been a comforting thought for me as I observe the divergence in some of the group work my group is currently participating in as teams.  And is also a reminder that not only do we need to facilitate the wider community but also to provide the support and scaffolding for the smaller groups/communities within.

A big thank you to Greg Walker for leading me back to ‘Digital Habitats’ and of course to Nancy White for her wisdom.

Many thanks to the participants in the course I am facilitating for their willingness to be part of the building of community through the application of these ‘polarities’.


Author: coachcarole

Coach Carole is the name by which many of you will know me - in my role as coach and mentor for teachers, project teams and networks facilitators. I work independently as an elearning consultant for my business Macro Dimensions.

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