There is a lot of talk in learning and development about building communities, especially within digital and social learning.
Within workplaces there are numerous knowledge communities but it can be quite challenging to find your voice in one of these groups.
New members can feel intimidated by the expert knowledge of their peers and their inability to participate fully. A knowledge community means that knowledge is shared and created through discourse, and all groups have their own specialist language which is obscure to outsiders. In any knowledge community there will be experts as well as people operating at a more general level and newcomers (Northedge 2003).
When supporting learning communities we need to enable new members to become effective participants. Here are 4 suggestions to help your learners to find their voice in your learning community:
Make sure your community has a very clear stated purpose – this helps bring people together
As the facilitator or moderator, model the way you want newcomers to be received i.e. be welcoming and make introductions and help people connect
Value difference within the community – diverse experiences and opinions make the community interesting
Talk about the language of the community and where appropriate publish a glossary of terms used or a list of acronyms