CoL (communities of learning)?

(Michel DENIS) #1

I’d like to get in touch with people interested by the domain of online communities of learning (CoL).
In schools and universities, there’s usually hundreds of teachers who need to communicate, cooperate and collaborate together, sharing their tools, their experience and best practices.
As well, there you can find thousands of students who can benefit from sharing and collaborating, especially when their environment becomes increasingly virtual (online learning).
Some learning management platforms like Moodle are also particularly well suited to collaboration and co-creations, through forums, wikis, messaging, online databases, … which all have collaborative features.

Do you have experience too in that area ? Any feedback ?

Thanks in advance,

(joel galbraith) #2

Our community is a community of online teachers. We still call it a CoP, but learning is why CoPs exist. We don’t do too much co-creation work with our teachers primarily because they teach a prepared curriculum in our online programs. Our online instructors facilitate the curriculum, focusing on student interactions rather than content and course design. So we have lots of talk about facilitation and engagement strategies and challenges.
Oddly, we’ve found our LMSs over the years (Blackboard, Brainhoney and now D2L) excessively cumbersome and ill-suited for our needs. We want gamification and badging, and development that is ongoing, that spans semesters and terms. The way our learning management systems are configured don’t support our needs well for high engagement teacher development. For that matter, I’m not sure it works so well for student engagement either. Way too much emphasis on learning a topic for X weeks and then forgetting about it and moving on to another topic to artificially “discuss” for another period of X weeks. I believe our school and LMSs need student online learning communities as well than span sections, courses and semesters.
How was Moodle? Do you think it meets your faculty development needs?

(Nick Emmett) #3

Good work on starting a new thread here @micheldenis
@Mike_Collins may have some insight for you here.

(joel galbraith) #4

Our campus kicked off an initiative today to help faculty develop their “course of the future”. It is really about developing a process to use data, experimentation and student feedback to keep improving one’s courses.
I was so disappointed to see that they feel this is going to take off and all happen with weekly F2F meetings amongst the cohort of faculty that start the program each semester. I had to bite my tongue and not raise my hand and suggest that an asynchronous community has got to be part of their solution. Sure, it won’t be used by everyone or even most faculty, but give the faculty a place to connect with peers both within and outside their cohort with lessons learned, quick followup questions, and reports on their progress. The faculty dev folks could also use the space to share timely articles and available designer/developer resources for faculty. sigh Maybe I’m just too naive. But I have faith in our faculty that if you build it–and support it (provide a community manager)–they will come and find value in one another. With our online community space at the university, I frequently still feel like @roki4ka’s crazy guy, but I’ve got a passion for communities of learning and I won’t stand down at our institution despite our occasional setbacks and sometimes feeling very self conscious.

(Michel DENIS) #5

Thank you Joel, that’s a very interesting feedback. I have a similar experience with some schools, which still are more using F2F for such activities. Time will tell …

(Michel DENIS) #6

I’m delighted with Moodle : it is very flexible, configurable and very rich in terms of addititional functionality that we add through the 900+ plugins available … and all that software pieces are free, thus customers are usually very happy.
One of them has now interesting sets of “spaces” on the Moodle platform for:

  • virtual meeting rooms for each dept, with forums, surveys activities, collaborative databases, chat rooms, web conferencing activities, … all fully integrated together on the platform
  • work groups per mission, collaborative and co-creative
  • shared sandboxes where teachers and conceptors prepare and enhance courses
  • inter- and intra-dept projects spaces
    and of course we are designing highly interactive and collaborative MOOCs, again on the same Moodle platforms


(Nick Emmett) #7

I think there’s a very distinct line that needs addressing in any consideration here that is yes, Community of Learning are ideal in many situations but, like just about any type of community that people will ever launch, it’s important that you’re very clear about WHY. Why do you need the community at that institution? Why would I come as a student/educator/faculty member? What’s the value, for everyone involved?

These questions, I believe, hold the key to how successful your community of learning will be, along with the direction it eventually goes in, the strategy you build, the content you provide and the engagement you drive.

Value is King.

(joel galbraith) #8

True. True.

(joel galbraith) #9

Would love to see an example or screenshots shared here. PM me if you allow guest access?
I share a couple videos we’ve made that describe our community’s value here. We hope (and work hard), of course, to see that value is actually delivered rather than just described in an orientation video.