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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spreading communities and Web2.0 em Português

I'm setting things up for the online workshop I'm presenting for Equal about communities of practice and Web2.0 technologies (Formaçãoo no âmbito de comunidades de prática em ambiente virtual). I want to log some of my challenges in finding resources and technologies in Portuguese (where "in Portuguese" includes both the language and the context).

General technology thoughts. One of my big headaches is people's love of the plataforma and I will jump for joy if, as a result of this, fewer people will ask me for "the platform solution" for their community. The idea of a plataforma is appealing to people because it looks like an instant community if you can just choose the right one with the right functions. It's also easy to get funding for - the size and functionality of your plataforma- it's a kind of symbol of success.

But of course no-one uses them unless they're made to! Not unless there is already a vibrant community with sufficient numbers of people dedicated to building the community and skilled facilitators. But try getting funding for dedicated community builders and skilled facilitators! In this workshop I'm going to use a mix of free tools and Wen2.0 stuff which participants will then be able to use for their own redes.

General language thoughts. I want to prioritise technologies that also have a Portuguese interface, although language that won't take precedence over easy-to-use interfaces. I absolutely refuse to work with anything that scrambles the text if you use accents. I'm happy that SAPO has updated their blogs and included RSS feeds. Doesn't some clever person from Sapo want to develop a non-techno-user-friendly Wiki like Wikispaces in Portuguese?

By the end of this workshop we should have a Wikispace with tools and resources for community building and a glossary of Web2.0 expressions in Portuguese. Let's see!

I'm going to start the discussion in Google groups (EN). Originally I had thought of using Yahoo Groups, especially as they have a PT interface, but really Yahoo Groups is so unwieldy compared to G-groups. Among other things G-groups is nimble, you can have different topics and it's so easy to join (or be joined to). Mind you, I can't seem to get the feed (you can choose a latest messages or latest topics feed) to work in Wikispaces. I'll keep trying.

The feed works in Wikispaces for 30 boxes (EN) which I'm using for the workshop calendar. I use the calendar for other things of mine but workshop participants will only see those things I've tagged for the workshop. For people who just want to receive the calendar information 30 boxes has a straightforward calendar look. But for people who explore it more, it's a truly amazing social tool. This is not just a normal shared calendar with RSS feeds. Like with lots of these tools they assume people live in US (e.g. US holidays integrated in the calendar, "toll freed phone advice" etc.) but I'm so impressed by inventiveness of these things that I'm not complaining.

I have already invited people to open a gmail account (EN) and to change browser (to Firefox (PT) of course). Some people have taken up the gmail offer, but I don't think anyone has yet understood the must of Firefox! And I'll be using Zoomerang (EN) to do surveys throughout the workshop. I confess to paying for the premium version so that participants can instantly see the survey results when they've done it.

It takes me SOO long to write in Portuguese. My three strategies so far have been (1) to really allow more time that I haven't got, (2) negotiations with my son to correct some of my language in return for not having to wash the dishes; (3) to ruthlessly hassle some of my Portuguese friends on Skype to check the odd word or phrase.

However, the advantage of being estrangeira is that I can be less formal than people are used to. I think my foreign-ness kind of gives people an excuse to take off their tie or put down their handbag. My estrangeirismos are opportunities for negotiating meaning and not acts of incorrectness. Estrangeirismos are language in beta. Discuss.

Most people have been so socialised in top-down instruction and while the discourse of social-constructivism and thinking-out-of-the-box is now on the table, really doing and being out of the box is challenging, even threatening. I know a lot of my job will be dancing in the tension between different assumptions of what learning is. Tension being, by the way, a potentially creative space for deep learning to happen. I have shared up-front my own learning assumptions which are based on a communities of practice (or social and situated learning) and invited people to reflect during the workshop on what their own assumptions are. You can see my assumptions(EN) here, courtesy of Zoho writer (EN) if anyone want to comment.

And all suggestions for Web 2.0 resources or tools em Português gratefully received!

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Blogger Joitske said...

Thanks for sharing the learning assumptions, very useful. In my environment there are also many different assumptions on learning, maybe at some point I'll try and adapt the table for that purpose. In my previous organisation I once developed as 'assumptions' table for our ideas on our partnerrelationships and what demand driven means and that helped to see the differences and make them discussable.

3/05/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Hi Joitske ... yes, how you learn affects what you learning. It's one of those things that needs so much negotiation which you often ignore in the bid to get on with the content!

3/05/2006 11:58:00 AM  

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