I have learned another good lesson this week. For a community to be valuable it has to have heart. It might seem obvious but online committees are just like real world communities; they grow, develop, thrive and then often die away as different factors move the members on. Like a city, what is left can be stronger than what existed before but can also be full of empty spaces. Look at Detroit. The communities that are left are strong but small. The devastation and ruins are everywhere.
I think that online communities are exactly the same but these events happen in double-time. The big difference is that the internet doesn’t really rot away. Everything is just left – it doesn’t purge itself. Maybe it is easier to disconnect from an online community because the community is virtual. There is less of an emotional connection because it is not grounded in real-time human interactions. Certainly that is something I have thought about as I have gone through this week’s activity.
In looking for communities to join, I found many places where comments were old, replies were few and nobody was really using the community. Everyone bar a few seemed to have moved on. I wanted to join networks which I could add to and which would add to me as a professional so I had to dig.
I eventually realized that the responsibility was mine. I had to engage, look around, meet a local and if it didn’t fit, or was a ghost town then move on. And so I did.
I have been a member of LinkedIn for a while now but had not joined any communities. I did so this week and found a good dialogue taking place. A teacher asking for advice had replies about an issue and a number of people jumped in with good advice. There was a connection. I joined the Teacher’s lounge and an E-learning group.
I joined several different groups on Google+ and enjoyed just reading. Easy to be a lurker and consumer. I added a few comments in the edtech group and will go back again this week. There were some groups which were more active than others but there was a beating heart which was good.
I joined eweb.net which has a huge amount of communities. I joined a few – non edtech ones as well as tech focused ones. My participation was limited but involved gaming and coding for elementary pupils. I’m not sure how frequently others will respond.
I also joined the Flipped Learning Network where I found a lot of information but I’m not sure there is a lot of activity. My posts are still on the front page as most recent and it has been a couple of days. I feel like Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn might be where I focus most of my time. Scoop.it is also a tool that I am using to source information. I want to be careful and ensure that I have quality not quantity experiences.
As with my last post, I have created a google slideshow with screenshots of my different contributions to sites.
My final thoughts are this: All communities are organic. They start small, grow, but often die away or morph into something else. I need to make sure that in order to get the best from my online communities, they are a good fit for me, have a pulse and that I become a creator not just a lurker.