Nancy White recently called me a ‘technology steward’ and I rather like that description for my work. It seems to fit so much better than ‘e-Learning Facilitator’.
When I think of designing a web in my WP courses, I feel that stewardship is an excellent model for what I need to do. At TRU-OL, our faculty are dispersed throughout the province of BC and many of them are completely isolated from, not only TRU, but also the world. Terrace and Smithers and Gabriola Island aren’t exactly on Main Street, BC.
The challenge associated with a distributed workforce is that building community is difficult. I’ve tried several ‘communities’, first in Blackboard 8 (nobody showed up), then in wikispaces (nobody showed up), then in Blackboard 9 (hmm…nobody showed up).
Several years ago, I though it would be cool to spin up an instance of Elgg, like The Landing at Athabasca, but that is way more work than I am able to do alone. Then the IT department here tried to get some traction in Yammer but that fizzled after a few months.
So…given the sense of isolation that is common among distance faculty, building community is a significant concern for me.
Enter my WP courses. I have a strong suspicion that people generally won’t participate in a community without a pretty strong ‘pull’ in the form of ‘something to talk about’. I hope that ‘online teaching and learning’ will be that something to talk about and that, over time, a community of bloggers will emerge and connect in this web for which I have provided some anchors.
I hope that building a connected course in WP around a topic that is (hopefully) of concern to the people I am trying to reach that the web will build itself.
I think we are seeing this happen in a big way with BCCampus’ Open Textbook project, it is starting to happen with more people getting on board with WP here in BC and elsewhere, and I’d like to think that I can help build another web here at TRU.