Forum .LRN Q&A: Response to Community building vs. privacy in online learning

Michael, I also strongly feel that the feature allowing others to see all contributions an individual has made as one of the most valuable features of ACS of any version or flavor. We are making a mistake if this is not included in dotLRN. I think it is of utmost importance that we define the scope of this feature carefully for dotLRN.

Michael, I argue that these philosophical questions have been answered in the past and must not be discussed... but emphasized and documented. To support my argument I call forward the Cs: aCs, openaCs, aCes, and dotCrn ;)

Community is based on a group of individuals where members are known to other members of the group. To promote community there must be a way for members to get to know one another. A community suffers, when it is hard to get to know others in the group quickly and efficiently.

As far as legal issues and privacy go, the best bet is to support previously existing closed groups (classes) with virtual collaboration and communication spaces, a virtual commons for each group if you will. The publication scope of contributions in each commons should be made clear by the group leaders (e.g. group admin) or the context in which contributions are made. This is how it works with our present platform... if external parties are going to be given access to contributions made in a class this must be made clear from the start. One thing that occurs often here in Heidelberg is that high quality group presentations might be posted outside of the course after completion (the professors do notify the students beforehand).

Students must be prepared for the transparency which comes with interconnectivity... for a world where it is becoming very difficult to act anonymously and avoid accountability for actions. "Think before you speak", is what common sense tells us... and sometimes lack of common sense can be compensated by experience (I like to think of universities and other learning spaces as sheltered havens to gain not only knowledge, but experience). Where possible the privacy issue should be delegated to the group leaders or the individuals themselves.