Community, networks, reciprocity and responsibility

 I have just dipped in here tonight and come across Dave’s post on his blog. When the word community appears, my ears prick up, because throughout this course my perception is that what many people have been seeking is a learning community, whereas, in fact, what connectivism as explained by this course offers, is a learning network (please correct me if I am wrong, Stephen and others) and like Dave, I think there is a distinction between community and network. 

Also, like Dave and Nancy, I see this distinction as one of responsibility to the community, i.e. within a networked community we are responsible for each other’s learning and well-being.

A while ago (I don’t quite remember when and haven’t the energy or time to look it up – sorry), I noticed that Keith was discussing reciprocity on his blog and if I remember correctly we had a brief discussion about it – or it may have been by email. Keith, Maru , Matthias and John are for me people who have really enacted the spirit of reciprocity within the blogging community of this course. There are of course many others, but my ties with others are at the moment slightly weaker. Although it would be great to have stronger ties I know that we are all busy with the many connections that we are trying to keep alive through reciprocity, both on and offline, so I have no expectations of anyone at all. Apologies to anyone who I have excluded through my comments. Despite my inability to be as responsible to the community as I would like, my feeling is that community and responsibility to each other is more important for learning than simple networking. I am still not completely clear where connectivism stands in relation to this.

So back to Dave’s point and Stephen’s response in the form of a question about whether responsibility to a community is voluntary or not and the meaning of voluntary responsibility.

I see responsibiity to the community as being voluntary, but if you want to be part of the core community, a leader, an influencer, or simply a voice that is heard, then I think there is an unspoken requirement that this responsiblity be taken seriously and that it involves reciprocity. If you are happy to be, or your circumstances dictate that you be only an observer or a legitimate peripheral participator, then responsibility to the community is not such a necessary requirement.

To follow up on Stephen’s response to Dave’s blog – I don’t think responsibility can be imposed, nor do I think it is a contract. But, like Stephen,  I do wonder on what basis responsibility evolves?

What makes one person take this responsibility more seriously than another? Is it in order to fulfil a personal need rather than to benefit the community?  And how do notions of responsibility to a network of learners fit with ‘connectivism’?

This is my question for Stephen. If you venture here Stephen and have time, I would be really interested to hear your thoughts about this.

2 thoughts on “Community, networks, reciprocity and responsibility

  1. suifaijohnmak November 15, 2008 / 4:59 am

    Hi Jenny,
    Great to learn from your thoughtful insights. I would think it’s a complicated issue – i.e. how to strike a balance between individual learning and community of practice because of the fact that everyone has his/her own objective or goal of life, and is emergent, or changing from time to time. It’s really difficult to set specific responsibilities unless the learner or the participant is willing to participant. As noted in this course, there are always peripheral participants who prefer to learn through “lurking” due to various reasons.
    I am not sure how people and institutions will respond to this “wake up” call from connectivism.
    I have posted some comments in my blog.
    Again, I echoed with you that this is the time to think about responsibilities not only from an individual learning network point of view but a community of practice point of view.
    I think I understand the basic principles of connectivism and so what remains are the practicalities – as mentioned by Stephen, in terms of modelling and demonstration as teachers, and how I could contribute to the community in a holistic manner.
    And I’m not sure the percentage of people who are interested in building up such community as mentioned earlier.
    Thanks again for your inspiring post.
    Cheers.

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