Community Driven Thoughts

Last week I decided to try something very different than what I usually do to engage a group of people.  I sat down and recorded a minute and half video with a Flip Mino HD asking people to define the term “community.”  I posted it to Youtube last Tuesday and I have to say that I am actually overwhelmed by both the responses and the use of video for this purpose.  I’ve created dozens of videos, but I’ve never done the “Hey Youtube, what’s up” variety.  One of the important things I learned … video is very powerful — even talking heads.  I’ve always dismissed it, but there has been something very engaging about watching these responses come in. It has started to change my mind about it as a way to get people to interact and connect.

In my video I asked that people post a video response to youtube so we could sort of see if a threaded conversation can happen via video.  I’m not sure youtube really supports that in a traditional sense, but I think it does create a new dynamic that a traditional message board just can’t.  I’d like to hear thoughts about that if you have any.  Some other things that stunned me:

  • In one week the video collected 604 views!  Youtube has some very cool analytics built into it so I know for the most part how people are arriving at the video, where they are coming from, their gender, and age range.  Very interesting data.
  • Everyone did exactly the same thing I did … in other words everyone responded with a talking head video.  I expected at least one person to “produce” a response by editing together clips or making something that was different than the rest.  I actually started working on one over the weekend where I was going to mix in some text and footage from around campus to illustrate communities in action.  I ran out of time and I am guessing that is one reason these were all the same as well.
  • Our definitions for the most part all centered around a similar set of themes — collection of individuals with common interests.  A few ventured outside of this and mentioned sharing, the notion of participation, and the ability to “collectively kick some ass.”  All of them appeared to be very sincere and were insightful — even the Reverend’s Queen’s English version!  I especially like mediacupcake’s idea that we are all here on Earth together so we are all part of a community with that shared interest.
  • All of them made me smile in a way that surprised me.  I love getting comments, but I really loved seeing people actually talking to me.  I was stoked to when pwhitfield started with, “Hi Cole, you don’t know me but …”  Just perked my interest in a new way.

So where does this go from here?  I’m glad you asked!  I think my colleague, Allan Gyorke, and I might try this as an open course designed to explore a question like, “what happens when we use grassroots video to have an open community of learning design professionals define what it means to be part of that community?”  What I’d like to do is design something that would work over the course of the spring semester each week working through a new definition via the 30 second question model and seeing how it plays out.  I think those who wanted to participate could find ways to synthesize the responses into a real working learning experience for us all.  So with that in mind, you’ll see a new video here soon asking another related quesiton.

Anyone interested in participating in something like?

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