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Participant comfort, social networking and communuities of practice
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Wendy FassoWendy Fasso
In, 2008 and 2009 a series of online professional development communities for groups of teacher-leaders in digital pedagogy was run. In each of the first two iterations, there was an early dropout of individuals who felt they ‘did not belong’. Contributing to this sense of isolation was the immediate emergence of online networks in the introductions forums. These networks grew between individuals who were either more extrovert online communicators, or who had pre-existing networks that were re-connected through community membership.In subsequent communities, a social networking approach to pairing and grouping teachers was taken. The results indicated that the targeted group of individuals in the paired groups felt comfortable, welcome and supported within the community. In all groups in which the partnerships were established, there were no early cancellations of enrolment.In this paper I argue that it is likely that a group of individuals in an online environment community through either facilitated or non-facilitated networking with a small group/individual focus can successfully develop the potential to support engagement in community activity with a whole-group focus. I also contend that it is critical to distinguish networking activity from episodes of community formation, as the purposes and goals of each of these activity types are quite different.