Do you have a moment to share your thoughts about your experience here?
Background: my school is one of 33 participating in a statewide (NJ) program exploring professional learning communities (called "PLC Lab Schools".) I believe in the power of OLCs so I've offered to help the NJDOE set one up for the initiative. The problem: these communities are so easy to build - but so hard to get "right!" I'm doing some research before we go any further.
Here are my questions ... I'd be grateful if you'd answer any of them (or even share something totally unrelated):
1) What makes this community successful?
2) What keeps you coming back?
3) What are the key roles in an OLC - who does what - to keep it relevant, interesting and meaningful?
Thanks so much!
“Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
- Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge
Technology Facilitator, K-4
Northfield Community School
Northfield, NJ USA
This may be the opposite of what you're interested in, but frankly I've yet to figure out how to get connected in any of my Nings, including this one. I've tried making it part of my routine to check in periodically, but I've yet to find anything compelling that brings me back regularly and keeps me engaged.
I've been trying to figure out what makes some of my online communities engaging (like Facebook, Twitter, and Second Life) and what makes the others not. Part of it is that the places I stay engaged longer result in ongoing conversations, while I haven't found that elsewhere. I've also built relationships (to varying degrees) with people there. That hasn't happened here, for whatever reason.
Nings also feel far more passive to me. They're just there. It takes repeated and conscious effort for me to go dig the substance out, and when I have more than one or two Nings to explore, that's time consuming and tiring. There's not one central place where I get a summary of the content that's most relevant to me. With Twitter I have TweetDeck to do the compiling for me (with lists) and Facebook does a good job of summarizing on its front page for me. Feedly brings all my blog content to one place and organizes it for me. Gmail puts all my email addresses on one page for me.
Maybe we need a Ning sidebar or gadget that will actively collect and organize the content from all my Nings and keep it in front of my face.
I try hard to be involved in the ning OLCs that I am part of, but the tool itself is often a problem. When the community is attractive and gets lots going on, the ning very quickly becomes cluttered and hard to navigate easily. I wish that there was another tool that we could use to facilitate these conversations.
I come back when there are updates to conversations that interest me. I wish that we did more actual collaboration. Is there a way to have more directed conversations? Perhaps with a time sensitive nature to them - to generate the kind of focus and interest that #edchat has on Twitter? Too many discussions start and then fizzle out with only a few responses. The immediacy of the web is part of the success of the conversation on Twitter. I think the nings need to evolve in that direction.