Learning Communities

In my recent work in the area of publishing, a question about the idea of a learning community came up. It seems fitting therefore to explain my learning community background and experience here in order to illustrate my own perspective more clearly.

I was introduced to the learning community concept in 2002 while I was working as the Coordinator of Academic Advising at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. One of my tasks in this role included liaising with residence hall staff and engaging in discussion related to the support of student learning communities, including the Franklin Residential College (my boss then was the Dean of the Residential College), which falls within the larger learning community designation. While my role was minor at Georgia, my interest was not. Then as now, I was intrigued by innovative models to enhance student engagement and learning.

As a faculty member at Bloomsburg, I have been involved in two different types of learning communities: 1) a faculty learning community (see our related article here) and 2) a student learning community.

I’ll let the article authored by our faculty learning community speak for itself, adding only that authorship of a single article (we’ve co-presented at a conference too) by such a large and diverse group is indicative of how amazing the collaboration has been and how important it was that the partnership was underpinned by our willingness to immerse ourselves in emerging technologies.

As founder and director of the Fine Arts and Humanities Living Learning Community, I confess that I have surely learned as much as I have taught. I *never* would have joined Facebook on my own, but my learning community students showed me its value as a community building tool. The source of my speed as a text messager? Huge numbers of interactions with my students. The reason I am so comfortable teaching about discourse modes such as IM and texting as invaluable communicative formats (e.g. Baron’s Always On; Crystal’s Txtng: The Gr8 Db8)? Not only do I study and teach about them from the perspective of a linguist, thanks to my students, I use them.

So many of my ideas about using technology to augment community building and learning are inspired either directly by my students (thank you!) or because I work so hard to explain easily-dismissed-as-bad-language discourse modes (blog, IM, text, Facebook posts, tweets…) as exciting innovations in language and the human capacity for creativity in communication.