I’ve been loving #DigPINS, not only for gaining a different perspective on pedagogy, but also because of how these topics are relevant to my professional research as well. One thing I’ve been researching lately are brand communities, or how people form relationships with other consumers based on using a particular brand. For example, I’m a huge beer geek and joined a membership club for a brewery in the middle of nowhere Colorado. I’d go up every few months to pick up bottles and hang out with the brewer and other members. It was always a blast and I made friends with other members because of it. These communities have a lot of value to a company, but I wonder if they can be applied to digital pedagogy to get similar benefits. To me, this seems like a process similar to one we’d need to cultivate the learning environments that we hope to achieve in online classes.
Below are 4 principles of building brand communities (adapted from Fournier & Lee, 2009) that I think might transfer to building digital pedagogical communities. I’d love to get your thoughts!
1) Strong brands (classrooms) arise from the right community structure – not vice versa. The strongest, most stable structures for a class would be one whose affiliations are based on close one-to-one connections, and so as instructors we should try to provide opportunities for members to forge many interpersonal links.
2) Brand communities (classrooms) thrive on conflict and contrast – not love. By creating a sense of contrast (i.e., defining out-groups), conflict, and boundaries, it could strengthen group unity. I could see this being applied to some group activities (but definitely not all), or maybe framing the class to be against some non-real group?
3) Communities (classrooms) are strongest when all members – not just opinion leaders – have strong roles. Everyone in the class needs to play a value-adding role (i.e., everyone needs to participate and try to be a part of the community). This can likely be done by setting up various assignments in the class.
4) Online social networks (e.g., LMSs) are only a tool – not your community strategy. The online learning management systems should facilitate interactions and should be a tool to support classroom needs.
What do you all think? Any of those seem wrong? Anything not included that you think should be? I’d love to hear your thoughts!