Team 4 chose “Teaching online or hoarding Frogs in a Wheelbarrow” as our learning event, an elearning course shared by Todd Pottle purposed to provide educators with tips for online teaching. We found that the elearning course was shared through a community created by the Ontario eLearning Consortium (OeLC). The OeLC supports members by providing a website that serves as a repertoire for shared resources such as Pottle’s elearning course and urges members to contribute knowledge, experiences, and resources within the community. This type of community aligns with the definition of a Community of Practice (CoP). According to Wenger (2011), who coined the term, CoPs take many shapes and forms but there are three common elements to all CoPs including domain, practice, and community. In our context, the domain is a shared interest in teaching and learning, the practice is shared between teaching and learning practitioners, and the community is cultivated through forum discussions and sharing of knowledge and resources. Team 4 will be exploring CoPs as a learning technology and will analyze the elearning resource shared by Pottle.
In a CoP, members contribute by sharing knowledge and resources, and I will be examining the issue of misinformation and control. With vast amounts of information readily available on the Internet this is an issue for digital learners to consider. Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news shared on the Internet and in our digital learning communities, whether intentional or not, is a reality. Learners must be able to critically evaluate sources and credibility. Mike Caulfield, developer of the SIFT (stop, investigate the source, find better coverage, trace original source) method of identifying misinformation, uses the term info-environmentalism, likening the presence of misinformation on the Internet to environmental pollution suggesting that it is up to us to clean it up. “Our information environment is dangerously polluted (Caulfield, 2017, para. 3)”. Caulfield posits that we are responsible for cleaning it up by contributing more quality content to the Internet through, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, etc.
I intend to explore the issue of misinformation management in our chosen learning technology, CoPs. In a CoP, members openly contribute by creating or sharing resources which can create potential for the spread of misinformation or “pollution” in the community. As learners in these digital spaces, we must be savvy consumers of knowledge and responsible contributors to prevent the spread of misinformation. Some CoPs have a lot of organizational control and some do not. What kind of control is required or acceptable in a CoP? Wenger (2011) suggests that for a CoP to be successful, there needs to be some organizational control however, too much control can be detrimental to the development of the community. It is my opinion that censorship within a CoP can be difficult without creating the potential for perpetuating bias, personal assumptions, and negating opposing viewpoints. My goal in further exploring this issue is to find insight into how a CoP can balance managing misinformation while cultivating participation and a healthy repertoire of shared resources that are inclusive of multiple perspectives.
As a learner and leader in digital learning communities, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on the following questions:
- How are we personally responsible in our digital learning environments to mitigate the dissemination of misinformation?
- As a learner in open digital learning environments, do you feel that you are equipped to critically evaluate and identify misinformation?
- How should censorship be considered in CoPs and in your opinion does it open us up to limiting alternative points of view and falling into our own biases and assumptions?
Caulfield, M. (October 23, 2017). Info-Environmentalism: An Introduction https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/10/info-environmentalism-an-introduction
Ontario eLearning Consortium (n.d.). eLearning at the Upper Canada District School Board, supported by the OeLC. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.oelc.ca/testimonial/
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. http://hdl.handle.net/1794/11736
Wenger, E. (n.d.). Communities of Practice: Learning as a Social System. The Systems Thinker. https://thesystemsthinker.com/communities-of-practice-learning-as-a-social-system/