image of person being recorded by video camera

this old learning community

Early this year, it became apparent that, as faculty were figuring out what it meant to create a flexible learning environment, many would turn to media development as a place to begin a whole series of DIY experiments in “transformation.” That meant, despite the prevailing atmosphere of competition and confusion, we, as a community of learning designers, technologists and media producers (who are accustomed to fee for service arrangements) needed to bring our collective skills to the table and figure out how to support a community needing consultation, curated/crafted resources, and inspiration. We felt like we were standing on quicksand and we needed a branch – that was the birth of the DIY Media Learning Community.

Learning communities aren’t really anything new. We have a long tradition of coming together and learning from each other – guilds as far back as the Middle Ages brought members together to exchange ideas and best practices of the day. Today’s learning networks mean that we can leverage online spaces for collaborations without the burdens of time and distance. But effective learning networks also require shifts in thinking. In a dated but succinct summary of this shift, authors Angehrn and Gibbert offer up:

The main shifts involved in the emergence of LNs are from

bureaucracies to networks,
training and development to learning, and
competitive to collaborative thinking.

Read more: Learning Networks – INTRODUCTION, BACKGROUND, Shift from Bureaucracies to Networks, Shift from Training and Development to Learning – Knowledge, Value, Lns, and Collaboration – JRank Articles

So, we decided to meet monthly in order to do three things:

  • exchange news
  • share something to get feedback on
  • create something together

We created a wiki space where we could easily collaborate on content for feeding into a website – which I created the structure for over the winter break. And we are creating in the open – so that anyone can re-use what we develop/curate.

People show up. Every month. People contribute content to the wiki (some people – this is still a bit of a hard sell). People are taking on roles (running focus groups to get feedback on the resources we are creating, trying out various tools and approaches for creating learning resources for different purposes and writing about the process). Boundaries between traditional roles and turf is breaking down just a smidge. And, it seems like there is less of an air of competition and more an intention of collaboration. People seem OK with a website that is “in development” – building as we go.

Navigating the politics of collaboration with senior management – more on that sometime later. Spoiler alert: when boundaries break down, everything shifts and new value propositions may need to be articulated.