Friday, February 10, 2006

Offering online 'creation spaces' and being spread too thinly online

In one of the online spaces where I occassionally post, one of the members asked for comments on the idea of offering blogs to a community's members. His post got me thinking about how I might reply if I was one of the members of this community and was asked.

Obviously my answer depends a lot on my context. Although I'm not a prolific blogger, I've ended up with a number of blogs because of testing things out over the last 18 months or so. My first was in an early version of ELGG. Then I set up this one. At the same time, I had a shared Blogger blog for the Horizon VCOP. Then I was given one at Educause and more recently was gifted a WordPress account from an online colleague. Just 4 weeks ago, as part of the TESOL EVO podcasting_elt workshop, I set up a blog at edublogs and a podcasting blog at Podomatic. I also have a flickr account and a personal and group account. I also work in a number of online communities and subscribe to numerous other people's blogs (which, for the last year, is pretty much how I keep up-to-date with my field).

This is a lot of online spaces! I'm spread too thin! And posting to just this one blog intermittently is hard enough (I still need to form the habit of writing everyday!). So an offer of another blog wouldn't help at all.

But what would help is if all my different feeds were collated into one feed (using something like SuprGlu) and then this one feed was brought into the online community (perhaps using something like Feed2JS). This way I could retain ownership of my personal online spaces like my blogs, social photosharing site, social bookmarking site, etc. but all (or some) of this could be brought into the community to both share resources and to share a deeper understand of the community membership. Now if all the other members did the same, we would have a very rich and dynamic source of where members foci are at any point in time and also where they have been historically. And visualilizing this in some way I think would be a great thing for community memory (... or organizational memory if this was inside a company or a community of companies in a supply chain).

As a teacher and faculty developer, I've been thinking about this for my classes and for our instution. What if students' eportfolios were their suprlgu feed? The categories and tags within their personal social software spaces, could be used to selectively bring their work into a course that resided within a central learning management system, for the duration of that course. While at the same time their eportfolio, their online spaces glued RSSly together could collect/collate all their work, academic and non-academic, within and across semesters.

Could bringing 'the small pieces loosely joined' into a centralized commmunity system(s), at certain points in time and for specified durations, work to balance the distributed/centralized, person/community, individual/organization, private/public, personal ownership/shared ownership that is needed in learning in the 21st century?


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