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How - and why - do you share knowledge?

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Started by Karen Spencer 09 Jan 2012 1:24pm () Replies (1)

"If we build it, they will come". It's a well known quote from the film Field of Dreams, but it's also a secret hope of those that 'build' communities online.

We know, of course, that you can provide a beautifully designed community space, but that nothing will entice people in unless they see a need and want to be there. It may be content, stimulating conversation, a great network of like-minded colleagues, but the mix is often to hard to define. People must be able to see themselves in the community, and feel safe enough to participate.

If a community is part of a contract or project, however, the pressure is on to consider accountability - how well is that community 'paying its way'? In terms of education, how well is a community supporting people to learn and reflect?

I have found the NZCER thesis database really useful recently, and I particularly enjoyed reading the doctoral thesis by Jocelyn Cranefield, Online communities of practice and professional change: A three-tier view of the knowledge embedding process

She identifies ways in which knowledge is shared across both visible spaces, such as a community network such as this, and invisible spaces, like staffroom conversations and email. She tracks knowledge development across a six stage cycle within a school cycle, at an individual level and across a system of over-lapping CoPs.

What I find most interesting was the role of people who do the connecting and knowledge-brokering, those who are 'connector-leaders' and 'follower-feeders'. She found the crucial roles lay not in those who create content, but in those who share and connect content between different groups.

How many times have you recommended a resource, reflected on it and posted it on a blog or shared it and explored in a forum? That very act, Cranefield suggests, is part of an ecosystem of knowledge development and embedding.

These days, perhaps it's not what you know, but what you do with that information that counts.

[originally posted in the e-Learning Research Network, August 2011]

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