Other People’s Good Ideas

Why is Community Important?

For a presentation at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, we asked the students:

  • How do you learn best?
  • Describe a time you learned something new.

From there we look at ways to build technologies that reflect how we learn best–via learning projects and helping each other.

Why Social Learning?

We found that learners studied over 2x as many questions when they were in a group study session as when they were alone. This was important because we wanted to make sure that studying with others wasn’t just making people slower to answer questions. But learners study more than twice as many questions, on average, when in group study than when they study alone.

Grockit, An Experiment in Group Study

Peer learning also helps us learn others things: engaging with others, communicating our ideas, and trying to understand theirs, negotiating different interests and perspectives, and collaborating on joint projects. These are the types of non-cognitive skills that may be more important for finding a job and living successful lives. And, as the global population rises to somewhere around 10 billion people, squeezed together on a pretty small planet, getting along with each other, and working together will not be an option, but a necessity.

Philipp Schmidt, The Great Peer Learning Pyramid Scheme

Love, Internet Style

Focus on Your First 10

People jumping straight into coworking calculating square footage & sizing up furniture, or obsessing over branding and their website, are skipping over the important and crucial step to developing a healthy community: finding your first 10 coworkers. Everything else can come after that.

Where you find them will vary. What they’ll look like will vary. But these first 10 people are the human seeds of your coworking space to be. They will be the #1 reason that other people want to come work with you at your coworking space.

Alex Hillman, How To Fund Your Coworking Space

Community of Inquiry Model

In an educational context, An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence.

Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

Teaching Presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Traits of Communities

The sense of belonging and identification involves the feeling, belief, and expectation that one fits in the group and has a place there, a feeling of acceptance by the group, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group. The role of identification must be emphasized here. It may be represented in the reciprocal statements “It is my group” and “I am part of the group.”

Personal investment is an important contributor to a person’s feeling of group membership and to his or her sense of community. McMillan (1976) contended (a) that working for membership will provide a feeling that one has earned a place in the group and (b) that, as a consequence of this personal investment, membership will be more meaningful and valuable.

David W. McMillan and David M. Chavis “Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory


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