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June 2-8: Encouraging Participation

Hi Everyone,

Because our recent discussion has been centred on how to encourage participation in online communities, I chose the article below. It includes design principles as well as social theory and comes from a socio-technical perspective.

This is a light article that takes less than a half hour to read. Nevertheless, I think it has some solid and very practical points for us to discuss and consider integrating into our own Researchers Homestead.

Our tasks for June 2-8 are to: 

1) Discuss the article.

2) Discuss which, if any, of the principles we wish to integrate into the Researchers Homestead.

3) Encourage participation and increases posts by posting at least 1 main post and replying to 3 posts by fellow Homesteaders. (How's that for a clear goal? :)

Koh J., Kim Y., Butler B., and Bock G., (2007). Encouraging participation in virtual communities. Communications of the ACM, 50(2): 68–73. Available at

Here are some highlights:

A. Four principles suggested in [9] characterize sustainable virtual communities:

1) Clear purpose or vision

2) Clear definition of members’ roles (such as designing community activities based on community membership life cycle: visitor, novice, regular, leader)

3) Leadership by community moderators

4) Online/offline events—important since they strengthen members’ identification within the community and with one another

B. Koh et al (2007) propose four stimulation drivers:

1) Leader involvement

2) Offline or synchronous online interaction

3) Usefulness

4) IT infrastructure quality

C. Two main findings from their survey: Authors also found that posting activity is influenced by offline interaction (p < 0.01) and that viewing activity (i.e. lurkers :) is affected by perceived usefulness (p < 0.01).

Task Discussion

  • Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 3:30 p.m.

    I made a spreadsheet where we can write our various research interests. You can just add your name and how hot you are on a 1-3 scale on a variety of topics we are discussing in here.

    Goal? Identification of individual and group interests to help in article selection.

    Will be interesting to see what everyone is into... smiley

  • Jennifer Claro   June 8, 2012, 9:08 p.m.

    Just downloaded a demo of pdfpen to deal with OCR of scanned pdfs but it's crashing a lot. Anyone have a better way? I use a Mac.



  • Stian Haklev   June 8, 2012, 9:42 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 8, 2012, 9:08 p.m.

    Adobe Acrobat is really good for OCRing scanned PDFs (choose "recognize text" and "ClearScan". Skim is still the best I've found for marking up PDFs, rock solid.


  • Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 3:25 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 8, 2012, 9:42 p.m.

    Thanks Stian. Has anyone used DevonThink Pro Office? It does OCR and has a bunch of organizational features that seem really useful. It's a bit more expensive than Adobe Acrobat ($150 vs. $120) but it has more useful features, it seems.

    Yes, Skim is awesome. Thanks for that tip too Stian, over a year ago now.



  • Stian Haklev   June 9, 2012, 4:36 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 3:25 p.m.

    I use DevonThink to organize some private papers etc. I don't know how good the OCR functionality is compared to Adobe Acrobat (have never tried it). I don't think it allows you to mark up PDFs, or anyway I never liked it's interface for reading PDFs. It also doesn't allow you to attach a notes file directly to a PDF, which I always wanted. But it's good for sorting your files (of many kinds) into folders, doing searches, etc.

  • Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 5:36 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 9, 2012, 4:36 p.m.

    I downloaded the trial version of DevonThink Pro Office yesterday (I couldn't find a trial version of Adobe Acrobat for Macs) and OCRed an article which you may like. It's a seminal article on cognition in three research traditions: behaviourist/empiricist, cognitive/rationalist, and situative/pragmatist-sociohistoric. I find it very useful for situating various aspects of learning within these paradigms, and it has fantastic references and lots of practical examples too. Yes, it's from 1996, but I do not find it dated at all. There is some information on ecological psychology too, which is helping me to situate it within its broader environment for this week's discussion.

    Greeno, J. G., Collins, A. M., & Resnick, L. B. (1996). Cognition and learningIn D. Berliner and R. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (pp. 15-41).

    You can find the article here in its original scanned un-OCRed version. Can we attach documents in P2PU? I don't see an icon for that above. If we could, I could upload the OCRed version.

    You can mark up pdfs in DevonThink but Skim is better. I exported from DevonThink to Skim, so now I have exactly what I want smiley.

  • Stian Haklev   June 9, 2012, 5:48 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 5:36 p.m.

    I sent you an example of the same article OCRed with Acrobat Pro so you can compare. 

    I don't think you can host files with P2PU - this is probably partly to avoid problems with copyright infringement - and there are many places to host stuff, for example scribd.


  • Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 8:11 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 9, 2012, 5:48 p.m.

    Just so everyone knows, Acrobat did a far superior job. 

    I'm wary of posting any copyrighted material at Scribd or elsewhere. When will we have real open access? sad

  • Jos   June 10, 2012, 5:49 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 9, 2012, 8:11 p.m.

    Hey guys, when you create a link with the link button (little chain icon, first on the left on bottom line of icons) there is a tab that reads 'upload'. You can use that to attach documents but as Stian says, be careful about copyright and legal stuff.

  • Stian Haklev   June 7, 2012, 2:28 p.m.

    Hey all, I just read 

    "Hoadley, C. M., & Kilner, P. G. (2005). Using technology to transform communities of practice into knowledge-building communities. ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, 25(1), 31–40. ACM."

    and found it quite interesting, I think it would be quite useful for this group too. It doesn't provide a huge amount of empirical data, but it identifies a number of factors for successful learning communities, and also for "design for distributed cognition" - I think these are useful to help us think about how this group, the broader etc, can be a learning community. 

    Not sure if you want to make it a future weekly reading, or just go and check out my very detailed notes here :)

  • Jennifer Claro   June 7, 2012, 4:45 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 7, 2012, 2:28 p.m.

    Looks good to me. Would you like to make it our reading for June 16-22?

  • Jos   June 7, 2012, 6:21 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 7, 2012, 4:45 p.m.


    We need a +1 button! :D

  • Stian Haklev   June 7, 2012, 9:35 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 7, 2012, 4:45 p.m.

    It's really up to you guys, I've obviously read it and chewed it over a fair bit :)

    PS: Just starting to read Bereiter's Mind and Education (the book). Unfortunately (tragically) not available online, but I'll be taking a lot of notes, if anyone else can get hold of the book and want to read along, I think it could be quite interesting - definitively a lot to chew on, and I've been planning to read it for a long time.

  • Jennifer Claro   June 8, 2012, 3:02 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 7, 2012, 9:35 p.m.

    How quickly are you going to go thru it? I could handle a chapter a week, I think. If anyone else is into it, we could maybe make a study spot for it, like you were going to do with Mind in Society.

    As well, next week I'll ask someone at my uni to help me set up DokuWiki. Really, your Researchr is the best way I've ever seen for organizing papers and ideas. Researchr is still not ready to share right? Well, I can make do with DokuWiki. Thanks Stian for so many inspirational ideas on getting everything organized. The great thing is that once you get it started, you can use it in all your future research. It's like a database of all the articles and books you've read, and most of your thoughts on them. Really, Researchr is such a perfect match for distributed cognition. Especially if we could share! 

    Here are a few other books at the top of my pile, just in case we are still psyched after Education and Mind. Please let me know if you want to set something up for Education and Mind or if you just want to write notes in here.



    Resnick, L.B., Levine, J. M. and Teasley, S.D. (eds.) (1991). Perspectives on socially shared cognition.

    Sawyer, K. (ed.) (2006). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences.

    Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild.

    National Research Council (2000). How People Learn.

    and yes, always, Vygotsky's Mind in Society...

  • Jennifer Claro   June 3, 2012, 10:56 p.m.

    Just wanted to point out that Stian’s strategy of “I often don't want to read the whole discussion before I've read the paper” is an example of what Goldstone and Gureckis (2009) call “independence amoung judges”. They write, “Early decision makers can have an undue influence on the group’s behavior when subsequent decision makers are influenced by their own judgments as well as their predecessors’ judgments (Bikhchandani, Hirshleifer, & Welch, 1992). Bettencourt (2009) formally models (I couldn't understand his math, but his results are comprehensible) the importance of having sufficient independence among judges if the benefits of synergistic aggregation are to be achieved.” Also, according to Surowiekci (2004) the conditions for maximal group performance are “a diversity of opinions, independence of members’ judgments, decentralization, and a good method for aggregating opinions” (cited in Goldstone & Gureckis, 2009).

    So in the context of an online forum, it’s much better to delay reading other members’ posts until you have made your own. This way we benefit from synergistic aggregation. This kind of synergistic aggregation is the topic of Goldstone and Gureckis (2009), and Bettencourt (2009) where one of the main points is that the best way to enhance collective intelligence is for individual agents to specialize (maximize diversity in groups) and connect to share. (Incidentally, last week I was considering Goldstone and Gureckis, 2009, as an article to read this week, perhaps I made the wrong choice?)

    Anyway, this is good news for us, as we are a rather diverse group. Are we perhaps too diverse? We have to be able to agree on which articles are useful for the group to read. The article I chose is, so far, having the intended effect of increasing participation, but I think we need a better way to choose articles. In this week’s article, we find “when community members perceive that a community and its content are useful to them, they tend to view and explore the material more often” (p. 72). It’s ironic that posts are being made this week about how useless this article is :) but my main point is that we do have to choose content that will be seen as useful by many group members. How can we do this? Any ideas?

    Stian brought up another interesting point last week when he wrote, “in the end, it all comes down to a person who is making a daily choice between watching a movie on Netflix, or reading that difficult technical article about peer learning, between grabbing a cheese burger, or making a salad and going for a run...”. I think this is a valuable point, that people need willpower in order to make positive beneficial choices. I had a look at Metcalfe and Mischel’s (1999) “A hot/cool-system analysis of delay of gratification: dynamics of willpower” and they explain this aspect of individual self-control very well. 

    Individual capacities like willpower are certainly part of the answer to the question, “What makes people post in Researchers Homestead and/or P2PU?” But we have no control over other members' individual willpower (altho we do over our own...) nor amount of free time. Other variables include usefulness, virtual meetings (to “strengthen members’ identification within the community and with one another”), design of online environment… (What else? Anyone want to add anything here? Jos?) all of which we do have control over. For me, the main point is that people have to perceive value in the Homestead, thru both usefulness of the content and interaction with participants. That way, when they have some free time, they'll choose the Homestead instead of Netflix, because it has personal value for them. 

    My goal in selecting an article was to give us some indication of what can be done to increase participation in our Researchers Homestead. What we decide may work in other P2PU groups as well, but my own personal focus right now is on our own group. One thing that some of us seem to agree on is that online groups need synchronous meetings. I posted a Google+ Hangout invitation above, let's hope we can find a time we can all make it.

  • Jos   June 4, 2012, 5:13 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 3, 2012, 10:56 p.m.

    Jennifer, some of your points are not too off from mine; early decision makers have an influence in the group, sure, but how can we control that? There is no way we can make people stop reading other's comments. If you add a constraint such as 'no one can post until after the hangout' participation is likely to suffer. I have to say that I made my notes while reading the paper, but before posting I read the other comments available. I guess it did have an influence on my post.

    I still believe the article is weak, really weak. The added value for me is the discussion with the community, but to be honest, if the next two or three articles are like this one, I don't think I'll stick around for long. But this relates to begin such a diverse group, as you point out. And there's very little we can do about it.

    This is a rather small group, but if it was bigger, different interests would likely spawn new subgroups, choosing their own papers. It would be great to cater for everybody, choosing a paper that all of us want to read and discuss. The probability of that is quite small though, at least at the beginning, but my main point is that in longer standing groups it eventually happens organically, when participants have a feel for each other and can more or less predict other's opinions. This happens in life and in work environments, you get to know people. But it can only happen through participation, and it's reduced to a smaller subgroup within the bigger group (call them the core members). Peripheral members will participate if they see a benefit but the main benefit will always be for core members, and that is how papers are being selected right now, so I believe it's the way to go (at least for now). A different story is if the group will survive that long. I am the typical peripheral here; it's my first week, I'm testing the waters, if I like it I will stay, if not I will go… why would that affect what you guys have been doing or will do in the group? Are you going to change your ways to make me stay? that would be nice of you but might actually have a negative effect on other group members… and the thing is that we don't know that, and we cannot know it; we are humans and rather complex.

    There's these two beliefs that bother me big time, one is that quantity is always better than quality, and the other is that success is the only path. An online group with lower activity can be better than a crowded forum full of noise and nonsense. If a group works for as little as a couple of weeks and then participants loose interest, so be it; it's not a failure, and another group will likely spawn from that one through friendships made and so on. This is the organic nature of how people hang out, why are we so obsessed about measuring and tuning performance? Do we quantify our relations with friends? If your friend Mary has nothing interesting to say today at lunch would you start thinking on devising a new strategy so that she can choose a proper topic for tomorrow? It does not all depend on the one topic of conversation or the one paper for the homestead. A new participant will probably scan previous tasks and decide if the group is of personal interest or not. Some people will only participate one week because that particular paper is important for some reason. What's wrong with that?

  • Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 7:15 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 4, 2012, 5:13 a.m.

    Hi Jos,

    I’m with you, if it doesn’t pick up in here, I’m out. I don’t even know what the goal of this group is, it’s one reason I chose the article I did – to raise some important questions. What’s our goal? (Am I the only one who doesn’t know what the goal is?) P2PU keeps coming up, are we a task team focused on identifying best practices for P2PU? If so, please let me know.

    I joined this group because I thought the goal was reading and discussing articles on peer learning. To be completely honest, the real reason I joined is because Stian and Rebecca joined, and I took a P2PU course with Stian last year that was excellent (Intro to CSCL). I assumed that this course would be like that one, just with a different leader. In that course, we had an online chat the first week (and every week of the course) and it was great. Not just the chat, the whole course. Papers were sometimes good, sometimes great, no real duds that I can remember. Stian, Monica (who led the course with Stian) and I wrote regularly in our blogs, commented in each other’s blogs (in fact, many of my blog entries that are still get a lot of views often were written during that course). It was, quite honestly, a great learning experience. We were a tight group, we learned a lot. It was fun! Yes, we got off topic, yes, we spent too much time trying to decide if we’d made an end product or not, yes, we got tied up in whether we wanted badges or not (what is the big deal about badges? I have never understood it). But it was a great course, and the level of dialogue exceeded any I’ve had in my recent M.A. and Ph.D. courses. I have to say that Monica and Stian worked extremely hard the whole time to keep interaction and learning at such a high level. And their hearts (and minds) were in it.

    But I don’t even know what the goal of this course is, there is little or no feeling of us being a cohesive group, several articles now have been identified as out of date, articles have been suggested by members who don’t even comment on the paper they suggested, half or more of the original members haven’t posted since the first week, and Jessy and I have been working our butts off to keep it going at all (Rebecca gave it a good shot too but is busy now with her thesis and other commitments, she may be back). Still, Stian is posting now, and you have joined, and Thieme posts now and then, but it’s just such a different experience that I am wondering if I shouldn’t be spending my time reading the articles I want to read (mostly cognitive stuff and dist cog stuff, all dated, all seminal). I thought I’d give it one last effort and try to identify some of the problems I see in the hopes of improvement, but so far there is little discussion of how to make it better, just complaints about the article. Please do suggest an article on how to imrove participation in online groups that is more recent and more rigorous, if you know of one. I looked at about 5 other articles that had some good points to make but the groups they studied had members in the thousands, so much of what they discussed was irrelevant to us. This is the only article I found that had practical suggestions for small online groups, and I stand by the 4 principles and pointers to success, simply because they coincide with my own experience.

    So yes, I’m feeling much like you do at the moment. It’s not what I was expecting, maybe it’s my own fault for expecting too much. So what I am doing this week is giving it my all, trying to get participation up, I feel some obligation to Jessy and Stian to try to get some dialogue going on what needs to change in here if we want to become a real community of practice (no, we are not one now, we are barely a community now). If it doesn’t work, I’ll know I did my best and I have every right to leave. Still, Stian is here (sometimes :) and Jessy is great and I think we do have a diverse and interesting group of participants (the problem being that they are not participating), so maybe we just need to get organized and get some social interaction going and some way of choosing papers that results in great dialogues… I don’t know, call me a die hard, but I still see a glimmer of hope for this group. I've seen what a great learning experience a P2PU course can be. And hey, with such a rocky start, wouldn’t it be cool if we DID turn into a great community. We could be the Rocky of CoPs… :)

    So, in closing, welcome to the group! smiley



  • Jos   June 4, 2012, 8:14 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 7:15 a.m.

    Thanks for the welcome! :)

    I didn't mean to sound dismissive earlier and I realise that keeping up a group is a lot of work, but sitting on the sidelines is no fun, so a couple of bold comments here and there can start a discussion, right? But I do sincerely apologise for that.

    I wouldn't think the goal of this group is for the greater good of P2PU, and it's probably from my comments that you got that feeling. I was just using it as an example of communities and subgroups within wider communities but, as you point out, I also joined this group because it was about reading papers with other people. I actually joined last week and then totally missed the discussion; when I was going to read the paper I realised there was already another one on. I am not suggesting a 2 week period; the main problem here is procrastination, and more time wouldn't help (Parkinson's law at is best!).

    I don't really have any suggestions on how to handle the group other than just keep going and let some practices emerge. People complaining about the article is better than no comments at all, right? There is this concept in software development called 'Egoless programming' which basically means 'you are not the code you write, and when I say that your code could be better I do not imply you are a bad programmer'. We write code with the information and knowledge that we have in a particular point in time, and with our best intentions. The same can be applied here; complaining about the paper does not mean it was a bad selection; If someone takes the time to go through the process to choose one in first place we can only be grateful for that. So please don't take my comments personally; I didn't like the paper but it has nothing to do with anyone's abilities.

    I'd be happy to propose a paper for discussion in the near future. I've one in mind about situated cognition, ecological psychology, and distributed cognition that you might enjoy (according to your last comment). It might be a bit long and it's an intro to the field, but anyway, the worst thing that can happen is that no one reads it or comments on it! :D

  • Stian Haklev   June 4, 2012, 9:05 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 7:15 a.m.

    Some quick points and responses. It seems to me that I've heard "I don't know what the purpose of this group/course is" in many P2PU courses. I wonder if this is because we are trying to do something quite different from a traditional university course - people have certain mental models and expectations of roles for students, TA, professor etc, but once you change that, everything is up in the air. And you might quickly end up with very different conceptions of roles. Initially, the way I "promoted" this reading circle to some of my class mates was to say that unlike a course, there was no social "obligation" - they could choose to just read the article and not post anything, they could post something one week, come back a few weeks later... It wasn't like a course where you are making a committment to be active for a certain bounded period of time etc. 

    Of course that expectation is very different from creating a Community of Practice for example (and by the way, my Knowledge Media and Design professor was very specific about CoPs always needing to include shared practice, ideally professional, ie. we're all librarians in a certain field, or we're all plumbers doing practical things and sharing our practices, it's not just about discussing ideas). 

    Anyway, the idea as I saw it was kind of to experiment with whether it was feasible to do a very "light-weight" approach to a course, where there wasn't so much work required from the course organizers side, where responsibility could be shared more equally etc. One conclusion could be that maybe this isn't so feasible - if a few core volunteers are feeling so much responsibility, and spending so much energy to keep the circle going, maybe it would be worth it to take the extra step and create a proper course - where a lot of time is spent up-front selecting articles that are not just good individually, but which work together to create a learning/discussion progression that keeps building on past ideas.

    Another approach, if this lack of coherency is a challenge, is to choose something like a monograph to read. I previously had the idea of doing a reading group around Vygotsky for example, I even set up a version of his book on CommentPress, where people can comment on each paragraph (, but never got around to starting the reading group. The advantage of this would be that you don't have to choose a new paper each week - you just go to the next chapter. It's a seminal text that everyone would probably benefit from reading - even if you don't like it, it's not wasted time - and it's complex enough and has enough intellectual baggage that it can spawn really interesting discussions, and those discussions can really help our individual understanding.

    We could also think of different models to our current "read one paper each week together, and discuss". For example, we could each choose one paper that we want to summarize for the class, and then share our notes - that way we'll get abstracts of lot's of different papers. (Or a few different papers that are complimentary can be chosen for the whole group, and if we are able to set up a synchronous time, we can then do jigsaw exercises, think-pair-share, and other collaborative learning patterns :) We can also think about what Philipp was suggesting, becoming better at synthesizing the notes from our discussions, and presenting these to others, so that we are creating a useful resource for the entire P2PU community and others coming later. (And this might help ourselves as well, if it were easier to refer back to earlier papers or discussions when evaluating a current paper, for example). 

    Many possibilities! :)

    PS: Jos, your paper sounds interesting, hope you post it. 


  • Jos   June 4, 2012, 9:41 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 4, 2012, 9:05 a.m.

    A bunch of good points there Stian. Doing something different is what I find attractive about this group; I can skip a week without any problems cause next week it will be a new topic. I might miss some bits of the conversation that relate to other weeks but that is always going to happen. I'm sure going deeper into Vygotsky's book would be beneficial for me but I wouldn't be up for that challenge right now.

    With regards to CoPs, we do share practice, we all are researchers trying to make some sense of the whole online thing, right? You could classify us as what Wenger calls a Constellation of CoPs, with a different social structure, but we are still all about practice.

    With regards to the last point (and Philipp's suggestion) I'm not too clear about how that would benefit others coming later or could have any impact in participation. I do see a benefit for those participating in the process but I'm a bit skeptical about keeping an archive. I see the point in participants keeping a personal archive though, because they have experienced it, but an archive as a shortcut for others… have my reservations with that.

  • Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 4:30 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 4, 2012, 8:14 a.m.

    Okay! smiley Lots of good ideas from Jos and Stian. I've made a Google document called Researchers Homestead: Idea for best practices. I wrote the ideas from this week's article that everyone is so crazy about, simply because we have nothing else to go on at the moment. Please feel free to find another article that has some principles that support the formation of a viable, sustainable online community. I wrote my own comments too.

    Stian, and Jos, and everyone else, could you please check it out and add your own ideas? What you have written already and anything else you think may be useful? Maybe everyone could choose different ink colours to help us identify who wrote what? (Ooh, we are writing a collaborative document now... :)

    We can use the Google doc as a guideline for our Hangout discussion. In fact, once we have had a few minutes of saying who we are, where we are, what we are into, and getting to know each other a bit better at the Hangout, we might want to continue the chat by using the chat feature of the Google doc. I think we should meet "face to face" in the Hangout for a good 10 minutes or so (anyone know any good icebreakers? Do we need one?) and then maybe no video chat will be okay, so we can get our ideas down on the Google doc and chat at the same time (instead of 2 windows).

    As for the time of the Hangout, so far we have 2 times when 3 people can make it (including me), but 1 can't. Anyone who wants to hang out for a video chat and then discussion of ideas for our Researchers Homestead, please visit soon. It's a challenge to find a time everyone can meet when are are spread out over the globe! 

    1. Stian, Howard, and Jennifer can make this meeting, but Jos can't:

    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 5:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Stian
    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 11:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Howard Spoelstra (NL)
    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 10:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Jos

    2. Howard, Jos, and Jennifer can make this meeting, but Stian can't (unless we can talk him into waking up early on a Saturday  oops Friday:)

    Date: June 8, 2012
    Time: 6:00:00 AM
    Invitees: Stian
    Date: June 8, 2012
    Time: 12:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Howard Spoelstra (NL)
    Date: June 8, 2012
    Time: 11:00:00 AM
    Invitees: Jos

    Please tell me what you think of this plan. I'm a little worried that we haven't heard from Jessy in the past few days. I hope she thinks these ideas are good, and that our goal is to improve the Homestead so it will live long and prosper (LLAP).

  • Jos   June 5, 2012, 5:56 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 4:30 p.m.

    Hey guys, I could do June 7 but it's 10pm my time so don't expect me being very awake! :)

    Jennifer, I left a comment in the Document chat but I don't think you've seen it. I cannot comment or edit the document (View only for me).

  • Jennifer Claro   June 5, 2012, 6:42 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 5, 2012, 5:56 a.m.

    José, thanks for volunteering to stay up late on June 7. It's late for Howard too (11:00 p.m.) and early for me (6:00 a.m.). We'll limit our talk to an hour. I'm just glad we found a time when we can meet! smiley

    Sorry, José, I forgot to give everyone permission to edit the document. I changed it so you can edit now. I hope everyone will go to our Google document and add the ideas that you suggested this week and any new ones. Also, apparently (according to 2 websites) a good question for an online meeting is "What is one thing you want to get out of this meeting?" So maybe first self-intros, an answer to this question, and then get into the ideas in our Google doc? Please add anything there that you want to discuss.

    So the time for our hangout has been settled (see below). I'll start the hangout 5 minutes before the times below, so when you go to Google+ you should get an invitation to join the hangout. Anyone who wants to join, please check the time in your location.

    See you soon!



    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 5:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Stian
    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 11:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Howard Spoelstra (NL)
    Date: June 7, 2012
    Time: 10:00:00 PM
    Invitees: Jos
  • Jessy Kate Schingler   June 5, 2012, 6:48 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 4, 2012, 4:30 p.m.

    so many great ideas in this discussion. i wanted to share the idea philipp posted to the p2pu-community list:

    I really want to learn more about the papers we (you) are reading, but I've been traveling and just insanely busy and can't really justify the time it would take right now.

    BUT ... I wonder if collaboratively writing a summary of the paper, that highlights the most interesting points, biggest doubts and questions, and comes up with concrete applications to P2PU would not be a useful task for everyone in the group. It would also be an immensely useful resource for others in the field (and could establish P2PU and the homestead as a destination for research on peer learning).

    i also think this is a pretty neat idea. personally, i think it woud be particularly cool if our goal was to actually write a paper based on several readings, where the content is emergent from both the papers selected as well as the people, and it was written in an open, distributed, open-authorship way (which is itself also a "hack" on traditional paper writing). 

    i would personally be super into that, and actually find it motivating because it would give an interesting additional purpose to the readings.

    that said, i also want to go back to some of what i think stian was saying which is that the original idea of this group was to experiment with doing something super lightweight. i figured, i want to read these papers, so why not put it out there and see if others want to read them too? people can come and go, comment or not, comment long or short, etc. "tranquilo" as they say in costa rica :). but it raises important operational questions that jennifer and stian have both brought up - is it *possible* to have something that is both super lightweight while maintaining some consistency and persistence?

    anyway, curious what people think about the idea of writing summaries/papers together, or ways to balance being lightweight with structure.

    :D onwards and upwards fare educational voyagers!

  • Howard   June 5, 2012, 6:52 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 5, 2012, 6:42 p.m.

    I won't be able to make 11 PM on the 7th. Perhaps I got mixed up with the time zones.

    It's my birthday and we're visiting a concert.



  • Jennifer Claro   June 5, 2012, 11:40 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Howard   June 5, 2012, 6:52 p.m.

    Hi Howard,

    No worries, hope you can join us next time.

    Happy Birthday! smiley



  • Stian Haklev   June 6, 2012, 6:53 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 5, 2012, 6:42 p.m.

    I'm really sorry! I was free when I filled in the whenisgood, but since then I promised a friend to babysit during that time :( I hope you have an interesting discussion, and take some notes to share with the rest of the group.

    I agree with Philip that it would be nice if we could do some summaries of our discussions for others (and even for ourselves) :) Right now I'm knee-deep in other papers, so the idea of turning it into a paper is not very appealing to me (but by all means go for it, those who want to). I think for a "visitor" to this group, just being able to see a list of all the papers we've read, with a sense of which ones we found more useful, the quick take-aways and critiques of each paper in point-form etc, instead of having to wade through all of our meta discussions would be quite valuable :)

  • Jennifer Claro   June 6, 2012, 3:58 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 6, 2012, 6:53 a.m.

    Maybe we should postpone until next week (same time?). Now it's just me and Jos and if we are going to discuss how we (all of us) want the Homestead to operate, I think we need more than two people. It doesn't sound very participatory to me. What do you think Jos? Stian and Howard, can you make it at the same time next week? Anyone else?

    I think the idea of summaries/papers is good too but I think we need to gather more steam first. Also, time is a problem for many of us.

    In the meantime, Jos, you said you had a good article. Do you want to post it as our next task? 



  • Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:06 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 6, 2012, 3:58 p.m.

    Hey guys,

    sorry, it's been crazy for the last two days and still have to catch up with this thread. Leaving the discussion for next week sounds good though!

    I can do the article, when's it supposed to be up?


  • Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:20 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:06 p.m.

    Just realised that the paper is not freely available :S

    Do we deal with this stuff somehow? Most of us can probably access it throug institutions... would that be OK? the paper is:

    Situativity theory: a perspective on how participants and the environment can interact: AMEE Guide no. 52. (Durning SJ, Artino AR, 2011).

    Can you guys let me know if you can access it? Otherwise we will have to look for something different.

  • Stian Haklev   June 6, 2012, 4:31 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:20 p.m.

    I found a copy of it here

  • Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:35 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 6, 2012, 4:31 p.m.

    Thanks Stian!

    If you guys are happy with that I can start a new task for the week of the 9th.

  • Howard   June 6, 2012, 5:36 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 6, 2012, 3:58 p.m.


    Next week, Thursday 14th would be OK for me.



  • Jennifer Claro   June 6, 2012, 5:43 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 6, 2012, 4:35 p.m.

    Looks great! Looking forward to reading and discussing it with you soon. Thanks Jos.

  • Jennifer Claro   June 7, 2012, 1 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Howard   June 6, 2012, 5:36 p.m.

    Okay let's make it the same time next week, on Thursday the 14th. Howard, Jos and Jennifer can make it. Stian, are you in? Anyone else?

    For me, I can handle the idea of the Homestead being something that is "super lightweight", I didn't realize that was the original intention. So shall we test the theory of "If it's a great paper, people will post?" Meaning maybe we don't have to do a lot of work discussing what the Homestead should/could be, but just let it evolve on its own? I'm more into self-organization than control, if we can keep going as we are, I'm fine. The key points are, I think, that we need 1. a way to consistently get good papers and 2. synchronous interaction from time to time.

    So the main question (for me) is how can we decide what article to read? Is it okay as is, someone just volunteering to do it? I like this idea, I just worry that one week no one will volunteer, or that no one will post... and the Homestead will go the way of so many other online communities.  Any thoughts? 



    P.S. - If we discuss this organizational stuff here, in our forum, we won't have to discuss much about it next week, and we can actually discuss the article! Cool...

  • Jos   June 7, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 7, 2012, 1 a.m.

    We have 2 weeks covered so far, and both papers came out of (or are related to) the discussion this week, so I guess participation could keep us going for a bit. We could set a roster in case that no new ideas emerge one week, then the next person in the roster chooses a paper... how does that sound?

    Agree with self-organisation and doing it here! :)

  • Jessy Kate Schingler   June 7, 2012, 10:54 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jos   June 7, 2012, 6:30 p.m.

    awesome guys! we actually already have a task for the "moderators schedule", so please update that to reflect which week you have claimed! here is the link:

  • Jennifer Claro   June 3, 2012, 7:05 p.m.

    1st Researchers Homestead event: Google+ Hangout

    To sign up, please click on your available times on this WhenIsGood chart: Be sure to choose your time zone at the top.

    Sorry that there are not many times to choose from (they are my free times in Japan's time zone), and they may not be convenient for Homesteaders. If you find that none of these times are convenient for you, please make a new WhenIsGood event.

    If you don't have a Google account yet, you'll have to sign up at Create a new Google account. There are videos on how to use Google+ on YouTube (here is one).

    Hope to see you sometime this week at Google+.

  • Stian Haklev   June 2, 2012, 1:24 p.m.

    Since Jennifer asked me in the previous week how much time it took me to "process" an article using my crazy workflow, I thought I'd measure just for fun. I tried to do things in my normal speed (not race through), but of course, being observed always changes the observee :) (Although the annoying two-column PDF also slowed me down a tiny bit, since sometimes I couldn't highlight text in just one column, it would "bleed" into the other column).

    Starting at the P2PU task page, I took 37 seconds to download the PDF and import it into BibDesk with full bibliography (I used a shortcut to look up the title in Google Scholar and import machine-readable metadata from there). I then took about 12 minutes to read the entire article and highlight in Skim, and export my raw clippings and some pictures to Dokuwiki. It took me roughly the same time to use "sidewiki" to organize the high level notes, and finally about 50 seconds to sync my offline version with the online server (I usually only do this once a day or so). (And here's the result).

    As for the article, I found it quite weak to be honest. It goes on about lot's of previous studies showing this or that, but they might also be weak (I'm not going to read them all to check). It has very little information about methodology - it would have been nice to see the actual survey questions they asked, for example. And the findings aren't exactly mind blowing. (They also don't question at all the difference between correlation and causality). And there seems to be a lot of speculation, such as the whole part about Korean culture, etc. 

    So not sure we can really draw that many lessons from this study to improve P2PU.

    One quite different thing which I find is often a problem for me, is that for courses centered around first reading one or a few papers, such as this one, I often procrastinate reading the papers until the very last moment - because reading a paper is a bit of a "serious investment", as opposed to idly browsing the last few messages posted (which I receive in my email etc). However, I often don't want to read the whole discussion before I've read the paper, so I just archive the notifications in my e-mail, and wait until I finally end up reading the paper. Of course, if everyone did this, it would mean that we would not have much of a "back and forth" about the paper.

    Perhaps there could be some mechanism to incentivize people to read the paper early in the week - karma points for anyone who posts a short article summary before Monday, or a badge if you post early three weeks in a row, or something :)

  • Jennifer Claro   June 2, 2012, 5:14 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   June 2, 2012, 1:24 p.m.

    Thanks Stian for posting so soon. I think this has a BIG effect on the week’s discussion. If we don’t read the article shortly after it’s been posted, there is little time to discuss it. So this gets the discussion going early. Awesome!

    Maybe we could make a list of things that one or more of us find to be useful organizing principles. Okay, here we go.

    List of Useful Organizing Principles (to be continued)

    1. Read the article as soon as possible (within 3 days?) of it being posted.

    2. Write a main post based on the article within 3 days as well.

    3. Write 3 replies or more over the week.

    This might generate more discussion. What do you all think?

    The paper may have some weak points but I chose it for the lit review (as well as its short and easy format). The “Four principles that characterize sustainable virtual communities” come from Kim, A. (2000). Community Building on the Web which has been cited 883 times as of today, according to Google Scholar. We can't read this book, but I think these 4 principles are very useful and worth considering using in our own Homestead. I think the stimulation drivers and the 2 main findings are useful too, but let’s stick to the 4 principles for the moment.

    Here they are with my own comments:

    Four principles that characterize sustainable virtual communities

    1) Clear purpose or vision (do we have one?)

    2) Clear definition of members’ roles (such as designing community activities based on community membership life cycle: visitor, novice, regular, leader) We don’t have any member roles except for Jessy (Fearless Leader). In PerlMonks (and many other online communities) they have member roles that change as members contribute more to the community. Here’s a post by someone at PerlMonks about his becoming a friar. Should we consider member roles?

    3) Leadership by community moderators. Right now we have only one leader, which puts a heavy load on Jessy. Should we consider helping out? (I guess we should ask Jessy about this too:)

    4) Online/offline events—important since they strengthen members’ identification within the community and with one another.

    This last one is an area I think we really need to improve. We haven’t yet had a chat, which in my experience, changes everything. Why don’t we make a Google Plus group and meet there? We can do video chat and the social side of our Homestead will naturally pick up. We can talk about the article of the week as well as other things. We could make a list of things we’d like to discuss, send out a WhenIsGood link for members to choose their preferred times, and have a fun online meeting! Jessy, Rebecca, Stian, and I have all expressed an interest in a chat. Let’s do it!

  • Jos   June 3, 2012, 5:24 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jennifer Claro   June 2, 2012, 5:14 p.m.

    Hi guys,

    I am happy to read that you found the article weak; I almost feel like I would love to have back the half an hour I spent reading it!

    It is not only speculative and contradictory (the paper starts with the premise that leaders find ways to encourage participation, to continue on page four with the acknowledgement that the efforts of community leaders are not associated with participation), but it is also severely outdated. The most recent reference is 2002. I know in academia 10 years is nothing (in certain fields) but in this particular field it's like reading a medieval treaty or something.

    The first part of the paper feels like they are trying to sell you something… feels more like social media marketing, highlighting the need for efficiency and meassuring community participation, to continue claiming the advent of new organizational design options (and here's my business card if you need some help with that!).

    Another aspect that I found annoying is the one size fits all approach to online communities. Is P2PU a community? I'd say yes. Is the homestead a community within a community? I'd say yes. Are there any differences between the two groups? I'd say yes…. no sing of that in the paper. And this connects to the four principles highlighted: Is the purpose or vision of P2PU the same as that of all of the groups within P2PU. How can you define roles in environments that are so organic? A leader might make sense in a particular group (or the whole P2PU community) but not in others. Same goes for the classification of roles: visitor, novice, regular, and leader mean different things in different groups/courses/communities.

    Jennifer mentions PerlMonks, which is a community of practice (I'm using buzzwords and all now!) around the Perl programming language. It certainly is an online community but I'm not sure their techniques are transferable to all online communities. Think about it the other way around, would a community like PerlMonks have any interest in putting in place a badge system? I don't know, they might (although I doubt it).

    Finally the conclusion is just superb… so they have discovered that if you have no internet connection then you are going to post less than others that are on broadband… will have to think about that one!

    There is only one aspect of the paper that I agree with; the fact that offline events can enrich the environment. And to a certain extent I agree with the third principle of leadership by community moderators, but again, in the case of P2PU, who is a moderator? a course organizer? a staff member? it's a very wide term.

    Anyway, rant is over! On the bright side I loved reading Stian's crazy workflow! Have to give that a go. I'd also be up for a G+ hangout for this group. Would be really cool; if you have an internet connection... ;)