On-line Community of Practice: Investigating the design of an invitational interface at a New Zealand tertiary institute

McMillan, Adam (2008) On-line Community of Practice: Investigating the design of an invitational interface at a New Zealand tertiary institute. In: BERA 2008: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 3-6 September, 2008, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Abstract or Summary

Communities of practice can be described as joint enterprises that function through the mutual engagement of their members (Lai, Pratt, Anderson & Stigter, 2006). ‘Practice’ is the unifying feature of the community where members develop communal resources and the process of learning and the process of membership are inseparable. Individuals form a sustained social network based on knowledge creation and shared values and beliefs (Barab, MaKinster & Scheckler, 2003). One reason why on-line communities of practice can fail is that designers often concentrate on interfaces that look compelling to the end-user but lack the ability to foster social interaction (Kollock, 1996). To promote interaction and encourage engagement Moodle, an intuitive and interactive Internet based platform, was used to create an invitational interface. This interface incorporated a number of web-based functions including an editable glossary thus permitting members of the community to enter or alter definitions for the benefit of all users; an editable wiki to present ‘gems’ and links to other resources; an asynchronous discussion forum; and a database of appropriate readings to provide sufficient background information to permit informed engagement within the forum. The focus of the community therefore was on engaged participation rather than mere content transmission (Andrews and Haythornthwaite, 2007). This poster presentation will graphically illustrate how the design of the interface, navigation system, and web functions were used to both inform participants and promote interaction between community members at a New Zealand tertiary institution. The graphical presentation will be organised into five discrete areas: first, the Maori theme pack that was used to create an invitational environment through culturally appropriate imagery and language; second, the use of appropriate images for navigational icons to create a familiar environment thus promoting intuitive interaction; third, the asynchronous discussion forum designed to encourage social interaction and reflection; fourth, the wiki which was included to promote collaboration; and finally, the editable glossary permitting the development of an overlapping and interwoven knowledge base. It appears that initial computer logged activity by a diverse range of academic staff, their postings to the asynchronous discussion forum, their entries to the editable glossary and comments on the wiki has indeed created an on-line community of practice. Since it appears that this initiative has been welcomed by staff it is intended to expand the community of practice to other areas of learning and teaching for the coming academic year.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Keywords that describe the item:Community of practice, design, interface, invitational
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Corporate > Assett Centre
ID Code:667
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Deposited On:04 Mar 2010 01:14
Last Modified:21 Mar 2011 05:28

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