A framework for evaluating Cloudworks

Indicators of Community

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Rebecca Galley
19 April 2010

Recently we have been developing a framework to help us to more systematically and  reliably evaluate transactions and activity on Cloudworks in relation to our project aims of a) a developing community, b) the development of professional knowledge and c) sustained participation.

As discussed in my blog post Community Indicators on the 13th August 09, we have been focusing on pinning down what we might mean by 'community' and therefore what indicators of community we might expect to see as Cloudworks develops over time. I have identified four broad indicators:

  • Participation
  • Cohesion
  • Identity
  • Creative capability

The type of communities we see on Cloudworks are likely to be relational and transient, our evaluation focus is therefore on the process or lifecycle of community formation and growth rather than community as an absolute state. Our interest is in the process of evolution from loosely tied webs or networks to the more cohesive productive groups that can be seen to emerge from repeated and iterative collaborative activity that happens within, across and between groups from more established Communities of Practice. The indicators identified are those we believe promote this evolution i.e. the factors which support the development of emerging Communities of Practice.

I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on where I've got so far.

Rebecca

Extra content

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Community Indicators

Community Indicators

added by Rebecca Galley

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Click on 'menu' and 'full screen' to enlarge

added by Rebecca Galley

Community Indicators Framework (Updated July 2011)

Community Indicators Framework (Updated July 2011)

added by Rebecca Galley

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Giota Alevizou
8:01pm 22 April 2010 (Edited 8:42am 23 April 2010)


Hey Rebecca,

The indicators/themes look great and I really like the ways in which you mapped evaluation (or research) questions to methodologies. Linking sustained (or intermittent) involvement to specific topics within Cloudworks would perhaps be another way to go about using these. It would be interesting to see what topics are popular and map the participants and styles of participation/ dialogic interchanges accordingly.

I think notions of membership may connect to your indicators too. Members profiles (and often their sense of belonging) can perhaps influence collaboration (Kester et al, 2006) and, consequently the thriving of a community. Collaboration certainly is one component, that implies specific goals; sharing is perhaps lighter and more appropriate for the context of Cloudworks. Redecker (2009), drawing on Brown (2001) and others, identifies three groups:

  • Veterans: those who support and encourage groups and 'newbies'; Veterans need to have sustained incentives for interaction; topical motivations, but also credit/reputation are among the features for incentivising.
  • trendsetters: those that make a difference...Nichani (2001) describes three types of trendsetters: connectors, mavens and salesmen.
    Connectors form the 'social glue' of a community; they are sociable and attentive and rapidly
    make friends. Mavens are the information experts, they collect and disseminate information.
    Salesmen are persuaders, they have a tendency to reach out to the unconvinced and persuade
    them.
  • Posters: According to Preece et al. (2004) participants of online newsgroups differ in their
    inclination to either lurk or post in a community. Posters need to be incentivised to turn from lurkers to active contributors....Critical mass of active contributions is perhaps another incentive for posters to become veterans...

I guess that there are more dimensions involved here in the style of participation and the style of discourse vis a vis purposefulness for participation/sustained engagment. But I think that the evaluative questions and methodologies are a great fit for Cloudworks.

I am going to add these references and some more.

 

Giota Alevizou
9:17am 23 April 2010


The references and frameworks above are interesting, because they link the development of distance learning communities with CMC and self-organising communities on the web. 

Rebecca Galley
5:09pm 1 November 2011 (Edited 5:10pm 1 November 2011)


I thought it about time I added an updated version of this framework (see embedded image above). This is the final (?!) version of the framework introduced in the paper "Community Indicators: A framework for observing and supporting community activity on Cloudworks" which I hope will be published in the journal of Interactive Learning Environments soon (fingers crossed!)

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