Trying, and failing, at intentional online communities

One of my intents when I began blogging.was to create an online learning community or PLN (personal learning network). That hasn’t worked out yet, nor have other non-scholastic attempts I’ve made at intentional online communites. I’m hopeful the course I’ll be taking this fall at CUChicago, EDT 6030, Using Technology to Create Learning Communities, will help me understand why, and how to build a robust PLN. My current technology-based PLN relies on my on Twitter account (@abendelow) and memberships in large teacher nings like http://englishcompanion.ning.com/.

On the other hand, I have had success fostering online learning communities with students, most recently through a class blog and an Edmodo class. And while not wholly online, the two English department collaborative teams I serve on are a spirited group of co-practitioners dedicated to learning about learning.  We are proficient now at curricular planning and review, but have yet to manage classroom observations and “lesson study.” These are reputed to be the real change dynamite, so I’ll be watching (and blogging) about what happens in this interesting time in the public schools.

Finally, my network of friends and family are the most important to me. With my friends, our relationships have all evolved into differentiated “communities of activity.” We do things with each other. For instance, with one set of friends we occasionally join in a huge community of practice, the monthly Critical Mass ride. Attached is a photo of the August ride we went on. With another group of friends, we make music together. (You’ll have to wait before you can access our latest mp3s). Still another group likes to see plays and challenging movies. The point is, it is purposeful common activities that join us. Without them, would we even want to be around each other? Are they even “friends” if they are all situationally so?

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