Bigging up communities

The other day Jisc posted a little video taken at Digifest 2020. The video featured Steven Hope, Head of Independent Learning at Leeds City College, Esam Baboukhan, Microsoft Learning Consultant and I chatting about communities. It was the result of a 20 minute session that we took part in as part of the Jisc community champions 2020 activities. You can watch the video here or from the tweet below.

Today I was interviewed by Hannah Tennant from Jisc for an article they are writing on communities. I waffled a lot (as I do) but I think one thing that crystallised for me was how communities have helped us during the Coronavirus period.

The main ways are:

  • Filtering out the noise – there was so much information flying around as we pivoted our courses online but communities helped separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • Collating and organising resources – communities and individuals took all this information and organised it. I saw lots of collated lists with explanations on why these resources were useful.
  • Training – the countless webinars and training events have been a huge help, especially on areas and tools we are relatively new to – like MS Teams. My favourite so far has been the Jisc event on Planning for the end of lockdown online.
  • Sharing best practice – communities have helped us share best practice and come up with consensus as to how we, as the online learning/learning tech sector, should act.
  • Sanity check – for those working in smaller organisations it is often difficult to know if you are on the right track. Communities offer reassurance and allow you to have confidence in your actions.
  • Advocating – communities are a little like mission groups in that they advocate on your behalf to senior management. Being able to cite suggested approaches from an established community makes your case.
jisf-event

Image from the Planning for the end of lockdown online webinar. Attendees were asked to indicate where on the line they were in starting to prepare for September delivery. How reassuring to see others were also far from ready.

So thanks to some of the communities that have helped so much during this busy time:

  • Jisc – They’ve put on lots of events and surgery sessions, created a Coronavirus page, set up a useful Coronavirus Team site and the Jiscmail groups keep us all going.
  • ALT – They have produced some great reports and their weekly newsletter is essential.
  • AdvanceHE – Lots of very well though out guidance and support.
  • DigiLearn – A great Teams based community with lots of fantastic practical webinars.
  • HELF – Discussions on the Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF) list are incredibly useful at a strategy level.
  • UCISA –  In particular the Digital Capabilities Group and the Digital Education Group.
  • Twitter – Always useful.
  • OER communities – too many to mention but sharing is most definitely caring.

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