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I’ve volunteered to be a “community steward” for an online community being developed by my local HR association. Since I play in the online learning sandbox, I thought it could be a place that I would provide some value to the members and also preach the gospel. Of online tools that is. I believe there are over 20 of us in the online community pilot, but you wouldn’t really know it from the activity or presence on the community site. Which seemed strange to me, because I thought if someone wanted to participate in this, they would be playing, but it seems that is not the case. After a few weeks of seeing my blog entries as the only ones and asking questions to the various groups and posting stuff in my group wiki and asking for feedback, it seemed like I was hitting a brick wall. It was me and the community owner and a very occasional appearance by someone else. But, it was mainly her and I. So I asked how I could help. It took several days (perhaps I’m just working at a different speed than others?), but I finally got some input! People indicated that it was hard to navigate the site (it is still being customized), they were overwhelmed by the interface and intimidated by not only how to participate but fear of looking stupid, or sticking their neck out as I called it.
I created two pieces for the group to consider. One was an online movie that I created using xtranormal, which I always find fun and playful. The other was a screencast that I made with Jing. It was not scripted, I just literally threw it together in under 10 minutes, and have had good feedback. Ironically the feedback has all come as personal messages to me only – through email – which defeats the whole purpose of the online community to some degree! They liked the personalization, the tone, the focused aspect (I showed one function) and indicated that it would help new users feel less intimidated. I’m not sure many of them looked at the xtranormal movie (but it was cute, too).
The best news story is that one of the senior people for the assocation saw the value of using a tool like Jing for other communication and education purposes, so I know I have converted at least one person!