Communities of Learning take many forms

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Yesterday, I drove to Richmond, Virginia. It is about a two hour drive from my home. My goal was to attend the open house of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Academic Learning Transformation Lab. I am not a member of the VCU faculty or staff, but because of the open culture nurtured there, I do feel part of the VCU community. After all, I did play along with the recent Thought Vectors in Concept Space course (http://thoughtvectors.net/).

At the ALTLab, the three sessions that I participated in were the Photo Safari (walking the nearby streets with Tom Woodward taking pictures); Communities of Practice (discussions about how faculty and students create a greater community that transcends individual disciplines); and 3D Printing (using it for various types of courses). For me, there was the personal connection of meeting folks in person that I knew (to greater or lesser extent) online.

Two thoughts that are related to Connected Courses come to mind. First, sometimes connecting with other courses has to happen off-line. I could just interact with the VCU folks and their work online, but meeting in person, on their turf, deepens my appreciation of what they are doing, and may lead to future communication and collaboration now that personal IRL relationships are begun.

Secondly, as I was able to see and discuss with my table-mates in the Communities of Practice session, I am beginning to use what I’ve been learning and step out on my own. Blogging about education with other educators is one thing. Now I am taking the concepts to another aspect of my life. A church I am affiliated with is beginning a long-term study of a particular edition of the Bible. Though I am just a learner and not in the leadership, I have created a blog for my own reflections in this course, and will be encouraging others to comment, create their own blogs, etc. Probably most of the participants have never done such a thing as to express their learning online in a public way. As I break my own barriers, perhaps others will have their barriers broken. (If you are interested, the blog is at http://commentsbybill.wordpress.com/)

Onward!

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2 Responses to Communities of Learning take many forms

  1. garygach says:

    I just joined CCourses tonight, &I found your blog through the new #DailyConnect fpr #ccourses, and poking around was inspired to post to your church study blog. While I’m here, I’ll mention the new course I’m assigned, as a new adjunct faculty, is “hybrid,” adding f2f seminars to accompany the online course. I’ve just come back from the seminar, and am building the syllabus for the course, drawing in no small part upon my experience forming a circle with future students … as well as bonding with the faculty too, in another circle … plus getting a feel for the the student interchanges, at tables during meals, and student-teacher interchanges, on benches scattered across the retreat space (all in a idyllic mountain setting).
    And I’m keenly admiring of your blog title …

  2. byzantiumbooks says:

    Gary, welcome to the Connected Courses course! I am sure your insights will contribute to our group knowledge base. Sounds like your hybrid course is mostly online but the students are in the same geographic region to meet? The f2f component (especially with meals!) would greatly add to the community aspect of the class. Personal back-and-forth, based on the common course material and individual experiences/backgrounds, will lead to deeper understanding of the topics.

    Got your blog connected yet?

    –Bill

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