The Question of Community

As I try to get my head into the work-space necessary to get the research done for our AoIR paper, I am faced with the question of community. Last week, I had attended the Spirit of Inquiry conference, and the word community was flung about quite liberally, often to the point that the word had lost it’s meaning – at least to me … a sociologist.  I had attended panels that talked about digital tools that would foster community, only to find out that by community, they really only meant grouping … of subjects… in a library/search engine sort of way.

Another panel suggested that online interactive participation could create community among students – bang on I thought (precisely the point of our upcoming paper) – but they meant it in the context of a one time, online activitity among students that studied at a distance .. where students help each other navigate through the online space, creating a “community” … not quite sure of this definition, but the experience made me think, that while there are MANY different notions of community, and that notion is even muddier for some when thinking about online spaces, I realized that in order to move forward, we would need to define the notion of community – at least in the context of what it is we will be attempting to achieve during the presentation. I guess here is as good a place to start as any!

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