Jul 21 2009

Housing communities “outside”

Published by at 12:33 pm under Communities of practice,resources

Yesterday someone on the staff of the Inter-American Development Bank asked an interesting question on com-prac:

Could you please share with me what the practices (and or policies) regarding the “housing” of CoPs in your organizations are?  Do you house them outside the firewall of your organization?  Does your organization endorse officially this external sites when they are open to clients and other stakeholders?

For those of you who are so kind to reply to me, I will share more of the organizational context that is driving us learn about other organizations practices -the bottom line is we are trying to determine the risks of endorsing these external sites which, in principle, would be open for staff, clients and other strategic stakeholders or our organization.

I thought I should share my response here.

Yesterday morning I happened to be hosting a SCOPE session that seemed relevant to this.  The 3-week SCOPE seminar was about issues that come up when an organization (such as the Ministry of Education in Colombia) supports many communities that may or may not communicate with each other.

Yesterday’s session turned the question on its head and addressed this question: what happens when one community spreads out beyond the organization’s own platforms?  Specifically, how Staffordshire University hosted a community on best e-learning practices whose membership was largely outside the University.  It’s interesting to me that to accomplish the learning objectives for the University’s own staff, they needed to bring along so many “outsiders” on the original Moodle platform.

Anyway, at one point they added a Ning site and a Facebook group to their original Moodle space.  All three platforms seem to coexist well and they each plays a role in the community’s technology configuration.  (We talk about this example in the Digital Habitats book, which is almost ready to go to the printers.)  So if you count “by platform” the community lives 2/3rds of the way outside the University’s “grounds”.  And if you count “by member” it might be 5/6th outside.  (Those numbers are from memory, by the way.) I asked Helen Walmsley, the presenter and the community leader who supported the community, whether her administration had any difficulty with this odd logic (that to accomplish “internal” organizational goals they were subsidizing and leveraging “the external” so much).  She said not.

By the way, there’s a session tomorrow (IN SPANISH) where Alvaro Galvis is going to talk about a network for faculty in Colombia.

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