After a recent email discussion and a direct comment on my misunderstanding of the Facilitating Online Communities course (FOC08), I have retreated to the corner for some quiet reading and thinking time. As our facilitator had stated and challenged, teachers were hesitant to step outside their experience of education to contemplate community facilitation in a broader context.
So I've chased some reading and listening, and some thoughts, to expand my understanding of what Leigh Blackall is attempting to get us to consider. These thoughts below are not inter-related, but have stemmed from my thinking, reading and listening.
Firstly, I should consider the concept of community similar to what is my PLN. There are a range of connections I utilise to provide me inspiration and knowledge, but I do not manage them. The information they generate is independent of me, however they form a significant part of what is me. My facilitation of these is simply seek, sort and utilise. It was when I considered this that I began to understand (hopefully) what Leigh is talking about. So what roles exist in this community. Certainly I am the moderator, selecting to digest and utilise only the information I deem important or interesting. My moderation does not extend to influence over what information is published or posted within the PLN, simply what is attended to. In regards to facilitation, I believe this relates to the environment I establish for the PLN. For example, I use a netvibes account to aggregate the blogs I read and juice for podcasts. Times of aggregation and distribution from there is my facilitation. Do I have a teaching role in this community, I don't believe so.
Secondly, I reflected on my experience within my son's soccer team. As the coach I have a direct role for teaching, and this is obvious. I then thought of community as how the parents interact. We organise outings to the park, volunteering for reffing and washing jerseys, collecting match payments etc. No-one takes control of this, is just happens. This to me represented the community aspect. A group coming together under similar interests, and interacting within the environment. Each person offered to contribute, and the others supported the contribution. Again, within this community there is no teaching and I perceive we all facilitate to a degree. With this particular community I perceive moderation would be personal and internal.
To delve back into my world as a teacher, I can see how this developing understanding could produce interesting learning experiences and outcomes within my classes. It certainly ties in with my beliefs about connectivism and transformative learning.
I believe I am beginning to develop a true understanding of community and how their existence and function does not necessarily have to end in an educational goal.