Friday, November 07, 2003

Educause's Virtual Communities of Practice

I attended a session on Virtual Communities of Practice but was a bit disappointed that the presenters appeared have little experience in actually maintaining a thriving online community. They mentioned a number of problems about the effort of facilitation and distribution of information that I think could be handled by a web log and RSS and even mentioned they were aware of blogs and RSS but when I questioned them further, they apparently had not even attempted to set up a group blog or encourage their members to blog about their professional experiences.

I suggested to them that they study the aspects of successful Yahoo groups but I could tell by their reaction that they considered that environment hardly worthy of academic consideration. Too bad. Our Imperial Rome discussion group has flourished, beginning with only a dozen members. It now has over 500 members and lively daily discussions that focus on topics quite in depth. I pointed out to the presenters that they need to try to leverage the gifts of their members. On our Imperial Rome discussion group, members that travel to historical sites upload their images, other members record their favorite ancient recipes, we have databases of Roman biographies, battles, and films, and I maintain an RSS-fed online news magazine about Roman archaeology, Academic presentations on the Roman Empire, and books, games, and multimedia with ancient themes. I also maintain a searchable database of images of the ancient world to be used for educational presentations.

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