Monday, September 8, 2008

People Need Training

Forums, chats, blogs, conferences, I look at all of these items as power tools of communication. In order to communicate we need to know how to operate the tools. They are not simple hand tools, they are capable of hurting people if we don't know how to use them. They are capable of causing just as much miscommunication as communication.

I wonder if anyone out there would agree with me? Or do most people think, "It's just a forum, I can stumble around through it and pick up what I need to know. If I don't know it, then I probably didn't need to know it".

I used Phpbb2 for five years and thought I understood it. Then one day I challenged myself to sit down and click every link on every page and ask myself "What does this do?, what does it not do?, what do I know?, and what do I not know?"

I was surprised to learn how much I didn't know. I calculate that I understood about 20% of the forum functions! And in all those five years I thought I knew something! So maybe, just maybe, I am dumb about the simplest things. But, hey, is there some reason for us to assume that everyone who comes to our community today understands the simplest things? Like how to make bold or italic fonts in their text?

No! There is absolutely no reason for any such assumptions. Let's assume that people know nothing and that they also know something. So let's find out what it is so that we know and don't know so we can fill in gaps and increase the collective knowledge of the community. I'm not talking about a thread. I'm talking about a committed group who meets at a specific time for a set period of time to investigate fully both it's knowledge and ignorance. That's a practical workshop.

So that's why I am looking for buddies who would like to make a commitment to learning all of the functions of simple platforms like gmail chat, google groups, blogger etc.

I think it would be nifty to have a Links Club, when, weekly, the members rotate the role of bringing in one link and all of the members go through each of the page elements and links on the page and learn it together.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, you always bring a unique perspective to an issue Artie. I think you are right, these tools can and do hurt people, but its inevitable really, and they afford us so much as well. The more people we have out there willing to do their bit in supporting people new to all this the less hurt. These days there are a lot more people out there with experience than 5 years ago. The chances of finding a buddy in your face to face world are significantly higher if you know where to look...

    Your suggestion to buddy up.. to me buddies form around trust and a mutual willingness to take a risk with each other. I'm not sure buddies can be assigned.

    A course is the kind of space that is more forgiving to mistakes, and where one can expect support. Support doesn't always come unfortunately, I wish education could have all the resources it needed too.

    You have spent a significant amount of energy putting yourself out there for others in this course, and it concerns me a little that there seem to be not many takers. It might be that you are so prolific and energetic that others are having trouble keeping up with you (I get this sense in the email forum a little). But your blog is more your own quiet space where I am gradually getting more of a sense of who you are.

    Keep it up. Keep referencing others, comment on others, perhaps reach out wider than this course... it could be that the little networks with FOC have already formed (I'm still checking..) meanwhile I think I will do another round of encouraging people to comment on each others blogs and supporting each other.


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The ordinal discussion arts lead us into coherent group building and groups become the building blocks of communities.

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