I'm thinking about community, what it is and what fosters it. I'm unable to separate my thoughts from earlier ones about travel and information sharing. I think a sense of community comes from shared experiences. I don't think we do much to foster shared experiences.

A welcoming community would make it easy to know the rules, the expectations, the participants. I don't think we do that, and I feel that way because I know I'm not an idiot and there's tons of stuff going on here that I don't know about. I talk with colleagues who don't know where or how to get information. I have intelligent insightful colleagues who never know where or how to participate. Let's fix it.

From the hip, I suggest a set of RSS links for any community. Decide what an initial set of regular subscriptions would look like and make the list downloadable. Agree on communication channels and make the channels obvious to new comers. Can we export a set of twitter names to follow and an easy way for a new person to follow and be followed? If you try a new communication technology, can you still maintain inclusive channels? Maybe using online names that are recognizable would help, too.

Once a community is easy to join, participate in and is welcoming to new participants we have a different way to address the community and a different way to share. All of a sudden, flying off to Wisconsin to discuss the marketing value of twitter becomes somewhat silly. I'd almost go so far as to say that if we can't do it, say it, learn it, teach it, in an online community we shouldn't travel, we should bring it here. Bring in speakers, educators, theorists. Like the Symposium- let's have non-online events here and brand them with the Symposium brand. After all, if it isn't about Teaching and Learning with Technology, who gives a darn about it?

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April 18, Symposium 2009; reimagine.
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