Group, network, collective…or?

On Week 3 of the NGL Blog, David asks the following questions:

Are the participants of NGL a group, network, collective or something else?
The students in NGL are part of a group of students all participating in a course. This is what binds them together. If the course was delivered via the learning management system, connections could be made between students easily. The NGL course is run via a blog controlled by one person and students have to use other means to connect. Once students are able to connect to present students using the public social tools they have been asked to use, a network may begin to exist. Whether it will be sustained remains to be seen. Even thought the NGL Blog is public, its use is determined by being enrolled in the EDU8117 course.

What should they be?
Ideally they should be a community of practice as described by Dron and Anderson (2014):

…a number of people in a network who share a purpose, practice, and often location, but without the explicit hierarchies, exclusions, and roles of a more defined group.

Our current purpose as a group is to learn from the course together. We need to practice, however due to our physical locations we are unable to connect and practice together. Thus we are left to practice alone.

Have you experienced sites such as Quora or Reddit?
I have had a quick look at these sites but must admit to finding as confusing and messy as I have found Diigo. Currently my method to find information or to connect to networks, sets or nets is by performing good searches. When I search effectively I will come across the information regardless of what platform is used. The answers could be on a discussion board, blog, wiki or sites like Quora or Reddit. I like to dip in and out of networks on an as needs basis.

Which of these conceptions might be useful, which might be challenging or inappropriate, for your context “as teacher”?
I find the challenge in all these conceptions the dominance on the online component.I think there is a great need to teach students how to interact with each other face to face. This will be a skill that might be lost in the future. Online there is no body language! This is probably the most challenging part of online groups, sets or nets. It seems so easy to leave the ‘group’ to be alone, to lurk or not be fully engaged.

Another teaching challenge with all online networks is teaching students digital literacy, the way to behave online use tools and find information. The definition provided by the National College of Ireland presentation describes digital literacy as:

The ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when presented via computers. The concept of literacy goes beyond simply being able to read; it has always meant the ability to read with meaning.

Digital literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesise digital resources, construct new knowledge, [and] create media.

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