Goal of Using Social Networking: By using social networking on the website, the facilitator will model how to build a learning community.
Overview of Use: Learners will begin using the website in cohorts. They will use the website as part of a 4-week training session, after which, they will continue to use and contribute the website as a professional learning community. During the initial 4-week training session, the learners will move through 4 phases of use of the tool as described below. After the 4-week training session, the learners will continue to use the social networking tool to facilitate ongoing learning community interaction.
Moderation: A facilitator will guide the group interaction, provide positive reinforcement, and constructive criticism.
Technology Tool: Either a “secret group” on Facebook or a Ning site.
Phase 1/Week 1: Help People Get to Know Each Other
The facilitator will post communication expectations for the course and the common objective for the learning community. Learners will post a profile and introduce themselves to the other learners.
Phase 2/Week 2: Sharing Ideas
Learners will be paired up to discuss their previous experience with learning communities and generate 3 “learnings” from the experiences. They will be asked to post their “learnings” and share websites and articles about learning communities on the group wall.
Phase 3/Week 3: Small Group Activities
Learners will be broken into small groups and presented with a situation in which an instructor has had difficulty in fostering a learning community. They will evaluate the situation and develop a group proposal for resolving the issue. The group will post their proposal as a site note or page so the other groups can access it and it creates an idea repository for future reference by all of the site users.
Phase 4/Week 4: Learner Designed Activities
In the final week, the learners will post or present a project of their choice about using learning communities. In addition, the facilitator will encourage the students to post questions about their practice on the wall.
Phase 5/Ongoing: Learner Designed Activities
Learners will be encouraged to continue to use the site to share ideas via link sharing, posting and discussion of best practices, and requesting assistance. The facilitator will hold synchronous discussion sessions once a quarter for the ongoing community.