Sense of virtual community in rhizo14

I am interested in the question what makes online communities work. My previous course was edcmooc and I observed the same question: the Five Fantastic Facilitators worked as a team and the active participants began the course a long time before the course was opened. I enjoyed seeing that a new internet generation had been born and was working well. Then I followed my old friends to rhizo14 and I am asking similar questions.

Miia Kosonen is a researcher in Finland and I want to use one of her slide presentations in order to use proper concepts. Miia became Dr with dissertation research about Knowledge sharing in communities some years ago and she has followed the research. I’ve my experiences as a reflection tool and I want to compare my experiences with the research findings. Here is the slideshare

Rhizo14 can be described as e-Tribe, virtual network community or online crowd (my opinion of course). We can define it (slide 3) by telling about the participants. Some of us began in CCK08 and we know each other from many connections. Another branch in my eyes comes from edcmooc, many people were active there. There must be other paths too, but I know these ways. Shared interest is not easy or clear to define. Rhizomatic learning may be the core interest to many participants, I follow more the other title “Community as curriculum”. I am exploring it. What is the community level social capital for us? We have trust but not shared language all the time. We do not like norms, but we must have many hidden norms and rules ‘how to behave  on the course’. We have conversations because many participants are good at it and Dave Gormier is excellent  (have you watched the discussions with Jeff Lebow and the group). Dave is open-minded and easy to become acquainted to. He is authentic in front of camera, he speaks to us. When he says that he trusts us, I want to believe 🙂

Slide 4 gives a nice structure to handling with living in a virtual community. Needs and expectations differ, action varies from active to lurking and roles (blogging, commenting, discussing or nothing visible). Feelings of membership lead to identification with the group and feelings of learning and support, insights and immersion. Building relationships becomes true, I’ve got some new names to follow. I remembered an old post of this blog about designing commitment . It defines two kind of relationships: bond-based or identity-based. Bonds are social, connections to people (for instance my interest to joining). Identity is connected to values and interests, things. I cannot define what values we have in common in rhizo14 but there must be some humanistic or making the world better -interests or is this only my imagination? I liked that old post (PLENK2010) and the level of the discussion.

Slide 5 gives many perspectives to virtual communities. My orientation is psychological, cognitive and social combined with the analysis of virtual life generally. I can describe my experiences during rhizo14 (and guess at the others’ feelings but it is better that everybody tells him/herself).

I have enjoyed watching recordings of the hangouts, also the Teachers teach teachers (TTT) meeting. It was nice to see Terry Elliot, Vanessa and Sarah. Feelings of nearness are stronger when I watch the videos. Some blog posts have interested me and I have written a few comments. FB group discussions are so abundant that I often skip them. I remember Lucy’s story about a deeply touching experience, it touched me too. Perhaps it was one of the longest threads, over 80 comments but I read everyone. Mostly I have a sense of looking in from the outside or far away what are they doing – I seldom have a feeling of belonging to this community. It was not a joke when I asked Dave in a FB discussion thread (it was for the newcomers) that why sign up? Is it needed? I am interested in the topic ‘community as curriculum’ but not in rhizomes.  The themes which Dave offers every week have been so obvious to me that they do not inspire any more or I have no need to answer or comment. But I’ll deepen my analysis about online communities and how a curriculum can be based on people.

I liked this description of virtual participation, written by Apostolos in FB group
“There is a “core” group of people I “follow,” and this depends on a combination of factors including interactions, interest in content, and so on. Then there is a group of people that are a little further out for me (the quotient of that combination of factors is lower than the core group, but it still on my radar), and then there are people that I just don’t interact with. So, I would say that for me it’s all shades of gray, and the further out you go and the gray fades to white, the less involved I am with those participants.”