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Emerge – the video

April 3rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

In this video Jisc Emerge Project co-ordinator, George Roberts, explains the ideas behind the Emerge project and discusses how to facilitate online communities of practice.

As a member of the project team I have greatly enjoyed being involved with Emerge. However,there is an English language saying: “All good things come to an end.” And sadly the JISC Emerge project has come to the end of its funding period.

In the abstract of a forthcoming publication we explain “The Emerge project aimed to support the development of a sustainable community of practice (CoP) in the area of emerging technologies for education. This comprised individuals, groups and funded projects whose focus was around the use of social tools and services for enhancing learning and teaching. The Emerge project team developed a range of existing social software tools and practices to facilitate the needs of the emerging CoP. Seven critical phases of activity were identified during the life-cycle of the Emerge project and the CoP that grew around the JISC Users and Innovation programme. Each of these phases, from initial engagement to building for sustainability, required different support mechanisms and approaches. In response, the Emerge team adopted an agile approach to community support – adapting the tools, services and activities that were offered over time to meet emerging community needs. Our conclusions suggest that it is possible to identify a range of benefits and likely outcomes to deploying social networking and social media tools to scaffold community emergence. However, the form and patterns of interaction that develop across a community over time cannot be approached prescriptively. There is a need to be sensitive to the dynamic and changing needs of the community and its’ processes and meet the changing demands for meaningful social and collaborative spaces. This impacts on the type and form of the tools and services that need to be made available to the community. Deploying an iterative and agile model to scaffold the community is a key factor to active participation by its membership and the successful development of community identities. In this way it is possible to define and support a community centre which anchors distributed practice in a manageable and accessible way.”

For now, the Emerge project web site has been suspended, although public posts may still be searched and accessed. A new Emerge Reports site also provides access to the products of the project. As George Roberts says in an email to Emerge site members “One key message from our analysis is that a community has many modes of participation. It would be a mistake to assume that the presence of a website indicates either the presence or absence of a community. There is a network of people who have been very active in creating the Users and Innovation Programme and the Emerge community. This network of people persists. Discussions are ongoing concerning how this network might make its presence visible on the Internet or if a site similar to this one might be required.”

My personal view is that there is a space for such a network or community presence, based on the exchange of practice in Technology Enhanced Learning. How such a presence can be facilitated, governed and resourced is another issue.

In the meantime, my thanks to George and all the other members of the team what have made working on the Emerge project so interesting and enjoyable.

Also many thanks to Dirk for a magic editing job on this video.

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