I’ve gone a little cold on Learning Journals. At least the personal, compulsory ones that are part of a formal taught course.
Now I think: make them public, give them another name, add a few more tools, generate some new habits (for tutors and participants).
1. Good stuff is wasted inside the locked walls. Our experience recently if that a lot of really cool, helpful, interesting and worthwhile comment can get locked up in them. Next time I will just give a personal workspace and some tools. These will be inside the CMS. But with the option of making the results public to any degree:
- me only
- (course) space admins only
- (course) members only & possbly selected members off a list??
- logged in members (of the whole site)
- The world
2. Don’t call it “personal”. The next problem is the name. I cannot call it a personal workspace – because this has connotations of being more private than I want. Webcrossing as it is configured for cpsquare.com has the concept of a porch. This is the public area where you can meet and chat.
But what name? What metaphor?
3. Foster/Enable Collaboration. How to make it friendly enough for people to come in and actually participate? Friendly may not be the exact connotation I mean, but you will get the idea.
How to lower the boundary to enable true collaboration, not just ‘working alongside’? In the current setup (with a PLJ), course members still tend to prefer to dialogue and feedback in private, and it can be just too much for one course guide/lecturer to manage.
All this is easier said than done.
Derek Wenmoth has blogged recently about a his 4 C’s, a kind of a spectrum of involvement. The most recent being his post on levels of engagement. It comes with another cool diagram.
My diagram attempts to illustrate how many participants in the online environment move through phases as they gain understanding and confidence.
- consumer – The first phase is where participants (often referred to as lurkers) simply read and explore the posts of others. Far from being passive as the word lurker suggests, consumers can be very active participants in an online community – just not yet visible to others.
- commentor – as this label suggests, these people make comments on others posts (either on blogs, or in discussion forums), often seeking clarification, agreeing with a statement, or offering a suggestion or link to something similar.
- contributor – as this label suggests, contributors are those who have started their own blogs or who initiate new threads on discussion forums. They are confident about putting forth their own ideas etc.
- commentator – a commentator is someone who frequently takes a ‘meta’ view of what is going on, providing a level of leadership within the community. Their contributions will often draw attention to the ‘bigger picture’, making links with other work – analysing and synthesising the contributions of others.
OK. We know what the problem is. But no-one comes to any of these courses we run with nothing to contribute or no area of expertise. So we can say “Everybody could function as at least a contributor”. so . . .
Here is a question: can we help people feel less worried about engaging online by sharing this 4C’s view with them?
What habits will help move into this new space?AFTERWORD: This relates to Stephen Harlow’s view of the idea. No CMS’s with logins.