After I gave the keynote in Australia at the ConnectingUp08 Conference, we opened it up for Q&A. I always get a question somewhere along the lines of, "Do you ever unplug or go off line?" Someone asked that and then suggested I check out the Slow Food Movement.
I had forgotten about it until I saw Nancy White's most recent slideshow above about this post.
What is Nancy talking about when she says "slow community"
- A community that does not only place value on rapid response and participation, which can continue to exist even if the pace of passing messages/signals slows down...
- A community that is aware of/reflects upon its own processes in order to ... learn? Enjoy?
- Some sense of quality, not just quantity of participation (how do we define quality?)
- This is more than "information overload, right?
This resonates with the NTEN WeAreMedia -- not quite sure how to articulate it - but how this community participate over time and the intensity of it ... Is slow community a phase of maturation?
I also came across this article by FutureLab titled "Working With Online Learning Communities" by Ken Allan summarizes some key factors important to growing successful online learning communities and provides some relevant strategies for this in educational online communities. Much of the principles can be applied to wiki facilitation and communities.
I particularly like this bit from Caleb Clark:
- online learning communities are grown, not built
- online learning communities need leaders
- personal narrative is vital to online learning communities.
Clark identifies that “online learning communities grow best when there is value to being part of them”. He further elaborates that, “one of the hardest things to do in any online community is to get people to give information. One reason is that people just don't naturally think their way of doing things has value, when in fact it is the very heart of a community's value! This is especially true in online learning communities where the exchange of information is key to keeping students coming back.”
Clark contends that “leaders are needed to define the environment, keep it safe, give it purpose, identity and keep it growing”. He gives a set of mantras for teacher/leaders in any online community:
- all you need is love
- control the environment, not the group
- lead by example
- let lurkers lurk
- short leading questions get conversations going
- be personally congratulatory and inquisitive
- route information in all directions
- care about the people in the community; this cannot be faked
- understand consensus and how to build it, and sense when it's been built and just not recognised, and when you have to make a decision despite all the talking.