I just feel I have to write again about a burgeoning community over at Educationbridges: Teachers collaborating with teachers. I joined the community a week or so ago and I have watched it grow and transmute over the days. It’s a bit like watching a fast forward video of a flower coming into bloom. I have heard it referred to as “MySpace” for teachers and the key to it is the connections that are created through tagging. You tag your interests in your profile, you tag your blog posts and you can immediately see who else has similar interests and passions. Communities and groups form naturally through the common interests. People ask questions and have them answered, the conversations well up, spill over and die down. I have been a fan of del.icio.us for ages because of the networking and sharing that goes on, but this just takes it about a hundred steps forward. This is my page on the Educationbridges elgg
But what is elgg? I hear you ask. Dave Tosh has this to say: “Elgg is a web-based learning system that allows users to create their own "personal learning landscapes". These are places where users can store their personal reflections, development and resource base; they also become online identities which are used to share ideas with other users and instructors, sparking debate and creating online communities of learning.”
Along with this learning about elgg and collaboration I recently listened to an interview with Nancy White, an online community development consultant who has interesting points to make about identity, learning and communities of practice looking at issues of power, and the needs of bloggers. The technology can show up, as Nancy says, “the network effect of blogging” to help build these communities. I do think this an essential part of being a blogger, checking out my referrer stats. Nancy talks about “identity online” and how “the expression of identity is a path to learning,” referring to Etienne Wenger. This is a thought I would like to consider some more. In fact I’ve had to listen to the whole podcast a few times as it was so interesting and gave me so much to think about. She speaks of a collaborative community being thought of as an “an extension of my brain”, something I have felt as well. In the interview Nancy refers to a book about online communities of practice, The Virtual Community by Howard Rheingold, which is available here. I think this is something I’ll have to read as well.