Tag Archives: learning community

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In the words of Jim Morrison, “this is the end, beautiful friend, the end”. It’s been a roller coaster of a semester both professionally and academically. For the 14 weeks of semester, I spent at least 12 of those weeks away from home travelling for business. This put an inordinate amount of stress on my studies and prevented me from being able to participate to the degree I would have desired.

Looking back at my Week 2 post: Communities, collaborative thinking and the cyberflaneur – I was already cognisant that my professional demands would shape the type of contributor I would be in the community. I signed up for the CLA Toolkit and after a few teething issues I was able to start tracking my participation in the community. As you can see in the following pie chart, more than 55% of my contribution came from triggering, with 11% from resolution and 33% in the other category. I was an active user of Twitter throughout semester and completed all of my blog posts on time. Due to time I was not as active in reading and commenting on other student blogs, but did make an effort where possible.

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Looking at some of my peers’ blogs they were able to attract a lot more activity than I did with my blog. If I had of been more active in reading and commenting, then I’m sure I could have attracted a lot more traffic. However, saying that, looking at the data in the CLA Toolkit, my commented to created ratio was fairly evenly split at 55% to 45%, respectively. This data shows that I was an active commenter in the community. However, data aside, I personally felt isolated from the community and wish I had have been able to be more embedded and active in the online community.

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I have been a user of Twitter in my professional pursuits for a number of years, so found it an easy platform to use in this course. What was new for me, however, were the Twitter chats. Recently, I used the skills I gained during Twitter chats to live tweet during the Liberact IV conference, which was a lot more effective to previous methods. It was also during the same conference that I realised the networking power of Twitter in being able to reach out to new contacts in the industry. I live tweeted during a presentation by Jane Cowell (SLQ), and then spent some time chatting with her during the break. It was only through the visibility of live tweeting that I was able to meet Jane. Now we are sharing articles and things of interest around data personalisation and digital librarianship. Because I follow a lot of LIS and GLAM sector related Twitter accounts, I have a constant stream of interesting articles flowing through my feed; therefore, I was easily able to quickly share items of interest with my #ifn614 class.

If I were to reflect on one take-away for the unit, it would have to be around Design Thinking and how this relates to the design of products, programs and services for libraries. I was able to see the impact of this discourse firsthand during the Liberact IV conference. At the time of doing the readings for Week 5, the concept was still fairly academic, so it was only through hearing and seeing at the conference how design thinking is being used in the design of information programs that I was able to situate the concept in real-world practical applications.

Whilst I may have preferred not to have the weekly blog post deadlines, this method of teaching and learning was beneficial for me. It forced me to do enough reading so that I could understand the topic and be able to write an informed blog post, which ultimately kept me interested week to week. Due to my professional obligations and continual travel demands (often in other time zones) I was not always able to join the Twitter chats or lectures; and in the case of group assignments, I was unable to work in a group. This has meant I’ve been at a disadvantage. Whilst lecture recordings are able to capture the content, because the sessions are designed around participation, catching up by watching the recording is not the same thing as being there.

Overall, I am pleased with the quality of my work. Even with all my challenges, I’ve been able to turn in high quality work that shows a satisfactory level of engagement with the content. It could be said that an obvious area for improvement is in time management, but no amount of time management can mitigate against the fact that my days on the road are filled from 6am to 8pm at night, leaving very little time for my studies. It’s only on the weekend that I’m able to get my work done. Because I work with libraries in my day job, and study about libraries in my studies, it often feels like I’m working non-stop! This is something I will have to re-evaluate next year and perhaps drop to one subject per semester so that I can continue to meet the University’s requirements.

Thanks to all my peers and the teaching team for a great semester.

PS. If you're at ALIA Information Online in Sydney, please drop by the EBSCO booth to say hello.

1 Comment

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!