When engaging in communities, especially communities in which I hold a high degree of knowledge, my natural instinct is to provide information (usually by opening discussion about readings, theories, what we’ve learnt in class, etc) and also seek to help to resolve or answer problems of other community members. Of course, this is time dependent as it takes additional time beyond what is usually required in participating in a course, and in past studies, online participation has been voluntary. In most cases, as I was an off-campus student, I relied upon the discussion forums to test my knowledge and engage in the coursework in a discursive manner. Disappointingly, I was often a lone voice in the wilderness and the discussion was generally two-way between myself and the lecturer. Sadly, there was no collaborative thinking.
Throughout my personal, academic and professional experiences I’ve been involved in a number of different communities, including underground music communities and Usenet communities (eg. rec.music.rave or alt.music.techno) in the early days of the internet. These were online communities before the advent of chat services such as Yahoo, etc – and these were the days of the “cyberflâneur” when the internet promised a bright digital future, where you could explore the virgin territory of cyberspace void of government or corporation colonisation through the comfort of anonymity, and through that, create your own identity.
If time allows, I’d like to continue with the sort of online profile I’ve maintained in the past when studying in online communities, but from the looks of things, with the CoI framework there will be greater opportunity for constructive engagement. So long as I am keeping up with my readings and coursework, I also see myself as contributing as a resolver of problems. More likely, however, due to extreme demands on my time from my professional obligations with EBSCO, I suspect I’ll slip into a question asker as I lose the capacity to keep up with university work and find it quicker to ask questions rather than seek the information myself.
As with all communities, when participating in a professional online community, members should behave in a manner that is respectful to others. Online communities should avoid falling into toxicity by agreeing to a code of conduct or ‘netiquette’ to ensure that all participants feel safe and welcome in being able to freely participate and share ideas, concerns, or even to simply sit back and observe what others have to say.
Given my previous long history of involvement in online communities, I don’t see myself having to drastically change my behaviour to accord with the expectations of the IFN614 community. I welcome the opportunity to be able to support my fellow peers and contribute to a productive and healthy discourse where we can all learn together through collaborative thinking.
I believe that the manner in which I have responded to the questions in the task brief clearly illustrate and embody the characteristics I hope to display in the community this semester. I also don’t see too much variance between my “real self” and online identity, except that I am far more articulate (and verbose!) with the written word over oral communication. I also have a penchant for literary, philosophical and other cultural references, but will always do my best to explain or provide links, so I don’t leave people confused and in the dark. I’m looking forward to this!