Late tonight I’ll take the first step of an interesting journey: I’ll participate in the Foundations workshop arranged by CPsquare. I thought about taking the course last year, but didn’t. Now I have a very good reason to do it: I’m planning to take on the responsibility to build a virtual Community of Practice/Network of Practitioners among the Swedish-speaking forestry engineers and foresters along the South West coast of Finland.
Swedish speaking? In Finland? Yes, there is a population of 300 000 people (as many as ther are inhabitants in Iceland) in Finland whose mother’s tongue is Swedish, and I have worked as a senior lecturer in one of the two Swedish universities of applied science here for (very) many years, training forestry engineers.
We have already built a site in Drupal which is in alpha-state, and me and my colleagues (whom I have been able to convince) and some of my students will try to have a beta version ready by December 15.
A problem is that there is not yet any expressed need among practitioners for a site for excange of all kinds of professional knowledge. Some interest, yes, but not more. Therefore we (me, my students and colleagues) need to make it content rich and inviting to start with and then try to get people in the field interested in contributing.
This of course is a long process, but I believe that if we do things right in the beginning, we might have a totally new form of interaction between the university and the practitioners. This might contribute to change the way we work with our students and it may change the way practitioners work. Especially after there is a mobile version of the site so people can reach it wherever they are (forestry engineers tend to spend some time in the forest :-)).
Now this is all fairly idealistic, but I’m an idealist.
I also wanted to document the process of getting the VCoP up and going, and recently I decided to try to incorporate the analysis of the process into the PhD I have been working with for many years, but almost lost interest in because it would have been quite theoretical even if my research has aimed at describing practical decision making. So no practitioners would have read it. If I can change my research plan in this direction I’ll be very motivated again!
So that’s some of the reasons why I take this course. I know a lot about social media, I participated in CCK08 and I have used wikis, blogs etc. with my students, but I have never participated in this kind of a hands-on course. I really look forward to it, even if it will be a little tough for me to participate as actively as people who are English speaking.