The following blog is part of an online course, I am completing. I have updated this to include the more detailed answers to some of the questions and hope to clarify some of my answers.
Answer: Consider what would be needed to create an ideal digital learning community. What would be needed to bring such a vision to fruition?
A large number of educators from a diverse background is just one of the factors needed to make an ideal digital learning community. In my subject area, film and video production there is usually only 1 teacher in a school and sometimes in a whole district. So it is hard to find someone to collaborate with in a school. Even when I do find another teacher, they sometimes work in a totally different environment, have different goals, or have a different focus than my program. For most of my career, I have worked in the same type of schools. My current position is totally different. It took me over a year to discover this and most of the last 2 years to adapt. If I had reached out a little farther, I would have discovered teaching in a Title 1 is a huge difference. They could have helped me along. To me they were the same students, I couldn’t see the difference.
A factor I hadn’t considered before is that there would be students or learners in the group. I guess most people in the education field consider themselves lifelong learners. This also gives everyone a chance to participate.
I am a member of several learning digital learning communities. I discussed this in another blog. I am most active in group for fellow film and video teachers on Facebook. The group is mostly Georgia teachers but we have a few teachers from neighboring state who participate. The ideal thing about this is all of the teachers participating are working under similar conditions. Since we all work geographically close to one another we go through the same things together. For instance, many of us attend the same conference every summer. The members of the groups discuss everything from why to attend, to asking for copies of materials and planning for the next event.
Another community is one that I started to encourage the same type of participation but to reach beyond the borders of our state. The problem with this group is that it requires you to be a member of Google + . This is just confusing for some folks and the membership has not grown as large as I would like. Google + communities offer a few options not available in Facebook groups. I like that you can post and sort different topics in the communities.
What makes a good digital community is having people who are active and willing to share. A large and diverse community will help this to happen. You need beginning teachers, veteran teachers and people from the community to participate. This will help to stir the pot and keep things cooking.
What can one do to make an existing DLC more attractive to and welcoming for students and teachers?
I have been participating in a few twitter chats recently. Some I am fully participating other times I am just watching. From my experience, people are really friendly. Whenever I make a popular comment, I will get a few likes and new followers. This positive feedback has made me more active in the chats. Some folks will announce they are participating and they will always get a hellos to welcome them to the chat. DLCs need this same welcome environment.
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