(notes – I wish something had come of this, but no one else in my group joined in! I have kept the notes in case I get a chance to give it some more thought later – erhaps when my boss gets to this point in the course).
Encouraging the development of community online generally involves some group dynamic. These could be groups that temporarily assemble around a particular learning activity and then disassemble, peer support networks, study groups, larger class and course networks, social networks, and more. How you foster this group dynamic in your course is up to you, but it is important to see it from the student perspective.
Consider how ideas of community, particularly in higher education, are fueled by a shared set of values. Do these particular values of empathy, wonder, and openness resonate with your communities? With your discipline? With your teaching practices?
Thinking through the communities I identified in my previous post, I think I share the most values with my GITS (GeoSciences IT Services) teammates, and that is probably not that surprising and a good thing for the team, in that we get along together. I like my GITS teammates and consider myself very lucky to share a daily coffee break with them, where they often demonstrate their values of empathy, wonder and openness in generally putting the world to rights.
With the other groups I am part of at work (thinking especially of my office mates, cake club and jogging group (I know, I’m going to have to quit one of those!), I think there is also a shared empathy and general interest in things going well at work.
In the School of GeoSciences, I think the people I have met show a lot of scientific curiosity and inventiveness, openness, and a much higher than average interest in environmental issues, as you would expect.
The later parts of the video, where people are talking about the importance of teaching curiosity and empathy, also reminded me of this meme that I have seen on social media a few times lately:
This module will be about the roles of community in learning. The successful development of learning communities plays a significant role in student engagement and overall success. We need to consider how to develop and foster that sense of community as a key part of the educational design process. Given the distributed nature of online education, we will need to adapt to providing new opportunities for interaction and development of online learning communities.
The Community of Inquiry
The Community of Inquiry framework describes a learning process in which individuals collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding of a subject.
The learning experience is created through the development of three interdependent elements, which are social, cognitive and teaching presence.
Most relevant to the current topic of learning communities is social presence, which is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)
Ideally, I didn’t want to use images, for accessibility reasons, unless I could provide a meaningful alt tag, which takes me back to the original problem of representing the equation in text, but with less useful characters. Here’s a page with a lot of equations as an example: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/easc080162019-0sv1sem2/2020/02/06/7-2-1-electrical-resistivity/. I’ve made a lot of progress using HTML entities, but they can only get me so far.
I’ve been working on moving a couple of Geophysics courses over to WordPress blogs recently, and the latest one includes a lot of mathematical equations.
The previous version of the course was displaying these as images without any titles or alt tags, so I thought I would improve on their accessibility by using HTML entities, several of which were new to me, and it has been an interesting journey!
Our boiler broke down last week. Thinking about it, it’s probably winter when most people’s boilers break down, because that’s when they’d be getting more use. But my goodness, it’s also when you appreciate it being fixed the most!
In the meantime, I’ve been very lucky to be lent a heater by one of my GITS teammates, which has been greatly enjoyed by all the family, and especially our cat Spot*: