Blogging, both personally and professionally, always brings to mind three metaphors for me: conductor, choreographer and gardener ...
An ecology is an environment that fosters and supports the creation of communities
... A learning ecology is an environment that is consistent with (not antagonistic to) how learners learn ... The Instructor plays the role of gardener
What are the needs of a learning ecology?
Learning/knowledge is more than static content. It's a dynamic, living, and evolving state. Within an ecology, a knowledge sharing environment should have the following components:
- Informal, not structured. The system should not define the learning and discussion that happens. The system should be flexible enough to allow participants to create according to their needs.
- Tool-rich - many opportunities for users to dialogue and connect.
- Consistency and time. New communities, projects and ideas start with much hype and promotion...and then slowly fade. To create a knowledge sharing ecology, participants need to see a consistently evolving environment.
- Trust. High, social contact (face to face or online) is needed to foster a sense of trust and comfort. Secure and safe environments are critical for trust to develop.
- Simplicity. Other characteristics need to be balanced with the need for simplicity. Great ideas fail because of complexity. Simple, social approaches work most effectively. The selection of tools and the creation of the community structure should reflect this need for simplicity.
- Decentralized, fostered, connected...as compared to centralized, managed, and isolated.
- High tolerance for experimentation and failure