Paul Left made some insightful comments in my blog on the topic of this thread:
Item 12: I think everybody’s different so not everyone needs to meet face to face. And with a global community that’s conscious of carbon footprints, many people are happier not.
Item 13: I’ve never heard anyone say ‘I would have felt more of a sense of community if there’d been a t-shirt/mug/bumper sticker’.
I guess this is where the context of my thoughts need to come into play. Yes I agree that not everyone has to meet but when you do meet sections of the the community are enhanced.
Just by way of example I will share with you how it works in another community. I am not trying to promote anything here but I use this successful community as a guide to what I do in the classroom.
Cool Running is a really useful place to learn about running ( in the same way EDNA is for Education) and to connect online with other runners who do many of the same things – train, race and improve times and want coping strategies for slowing down.
In my case what lifted the community and sustains its online presence is that it is also based in reality and we connect with each other. Once we connect our online world grows more as we can put a name to a face….
1. Once Cool running started to have caps and t – shirts people would come up to each other at runs and ask who we were in the online community. Runners in the gear would be cheered by total strangers ( because they are lurkers), lifting their spirit and sometimes performance. After the race people would connect up at a deeper level, travel interstate for other runs and meet other Cool Runners. So people did say a sense of community started develop further,
2. After a while other people at races would spot a cap or t-shirt and ask how do you all know each other and gee you all support each other well. They in turn become lurkers and after a while join the online in the community adding to the collective wisdom.
3. In the lead up to races though the online community people organise to meet after the run for social gathering. All things running are discussed and invariably people agree to meet up for training runs all communicated online and sometimes by Facebook invitations.
4. A few times a year online messages appear in each capital city for x’mas drinks and people meet up at designated hotels or cafes.
So a rich fabric of online and reality based connections support each other.
Cool Running is a community which has been around for 10 years , moved with times in terms of technology and is currently thriving. We have discussions about where it will be in a few years but at the moment it is still really well supported by the running community because it is seen to be of value to everyone’s shared interests.
How does this work for me and education?
I am not suggestion T-shirts or caps but I would like a way to be able to know a member of this community if I meet the in a different educational context.
For example, I am going to the EDNA ACER Digital Education Revolution Conference on Monday in Sydney and hope my online learning through EDNA will be enhanced by meeting a few of you. How do I know if you are there?
I had a Twitter EDNA connection last night from two difference educational online communities. Last night, for example, @mpesce whom I have come across in Twitter was also on The Inventors. We were on Twitter talking about it with him during the show. I note also he is one of the advertised presenters for the EDNA ACER Digital Education Revolution Conferences in Sydney on Monday. Here is an example where my involvement in this community can be enriched by meeting in person.
Anyway just some thoughts.