Research about online communities

PLENK2010 – the course program has ended and many people are pondering about their participation and learning. What happened and why? and why not? I liked the presentation Vahid Masrour gave in our Moodle General Forum: the Participation Spiral. There are stairways to confidence and trust, many excellent questions in this presentation.

Vahid also spoke about about categorizing online participation; consumer, interactor and producer are the main categories – more in this link. The Social Technographics’ Ladder are suitable in many contexts I suppose. Producers can be creators or elite – so we have hierarchies in open web world 🙂  I like Vahid’s spiral more than this hierarchy.

Then I remembered this presentation in Networked Learning congress in Denmark last May: Who is taming who? Tensions between people and technologies in cyberspace communities, written by Terrie Lynn Thompson, Alberta University, Canada. I refer only one part of the presentation:

The participants in the study include: postings; avatars; tool bars; emoticons; archives; community member profiles; the search term in Google that takes you to the cyber location; viruses; hyperlinks; the delete button; passwords; the technology that delivers postings such as e-mail, discussion forum, or RSS feed.

Human actants included: “newbies”, “wannabes”, colleagues, “big names”, celebrities, competitors, posers, lurkers, employment recruiters, clients, friends, strangers, and the online paparazzi.

We have mentioned newbies, lurkers and  friends. Colleagues mean co-learners or participants in open courses like PLENK. We have member profiles in Moodle and some of us have avatars in the Second Life. Some people have mentioned spam or viruses. What else? Are we blind to some factors?

I just listened to the last Friday Session about Critical perspectives or Modeling Learner Autonomy. Sebastian Fiedler’s model about Adult Learner, Rita Kop’s Model of learning in PLE and Stephen Downes’s Roles of educator in PLE world. Fiedler resembles action theory Engeström developed in Finland in 1980’s (international roots in the Soviet Union, Leontjew), Rita Kop knows experiental learning and combines it to new technologies, I like that model. I did not catch the excellence of Stephen’s presentation. Of course learners can produce the concepts, so we did in teacher education all the time. But the raw material is only a beginning, it is not interesting as such. So what, I let it be.

Learner autonomy and online participation spiral and who is taming who – please give me a summary about these.

4 thoughts on “Research about online communities

  1. Hi Heli,

    Robert Kraut has done some interesting research in Online Communities looking at human roles and design of communities including the software affects people’s understanding of identity and attachment
    There is also a nice talk by him

    His Community lab did focus on interactions in specific communities but I found his perspective very interesting around design, there may be some bits which relate to networks too?


  2. Great thanks, Nicola

    I listened to the video half an hour and will continue later. Kraut seems to answer my questions. I didn’t know him..there is so much to learn

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  4. Thanks, Heli and all, for your perspectives on including discussion forums in an online open course. Keeping weekly forums will probably necessitate going back to the Moodle so I’m betting that was one of the motivations for PLENK2010 to stay in Moodle. Alec Couros’s open course – — uses a wiki and has no discussion forums and is a model for simplicity in presentation. This is going to be a really tough decision so I really appreciate your input.