Friday, 11 February 2011

Special Intertest Groups (SIGs) and Facebook: you talked - we listened

SIGs are a vital component to learning in this module and augment the analysis which was carried out in the previous module (3002) on Professional Networking. There are tasks indicated in the Module Handbook where you are asked to work with your SIG, so, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how SIGs should function / develop and be used. SIGs are of course a two way street – not only do you expect feedback and help from your SIG(s) but you should also provide support and feedback. There are responsibilities as well as opportunities. At the campus session people discussed in teams the following questions and reported back to the group as a whole.

  • How should SIGs form in BAPP?
  • How many SIGs should we be a member of?
  • How can we decide membership of SIG?
  • Should they limited or open?
  • How much participation is expected?
  • What responsibilities should we have to the SIG?
  • What technologies can we use to support communication?
  • Any other points?

There was broad agreement that SIGs should not be limited (at this time) by size nor should there be a limit to the number of SIGs we can join. SIGs should be self forming and managing and can be limited by purpose / time. In terms of participation there was a discussion on whether people should be excluded for not contributing. But Etienne Wenger’s ideas on Communities of Practice came into the discussion regarding peripheral and core participation and that while someone may not be active all the time in a SIG they may get involved usefully at an appropriate time. Jo suggested that SIGs should be checked at least once a fortnight and this seems fair enough considering the length of the module – but policing this could be challenging and time consuming.

The favoured technology to support SIGs was Facebook. It was suggested that initially the discussion tool could be used to start of threads in these discussions. Depending on SIG activity, it was proposed that dedicated blogs on the subject matter could be started, if that proved necessary. Mention was also made of google docs / wikis and using the blogs as well for posting more considered thoughts. Whatever technology is used, (e.g. e-mail, facebook, blogs, skype, wikis) as ever, it is recommended that copies of relevant communications are retained – these may prove useful for portfolios and as evidence of development of ideas.

Paula and I agreed to set up a BA Professional Practice page on the Facebook platform as the SIG incubator. It was set up from my newly created Facebook page – so hook up to the BAPP page and get threading those discussions.

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