The Center: a new online community, connecting California’s community college faculty, staff, and administrators

Google+ Community:  http://gplus.to/TheCenter
Twitter:  @center_ed

This month I began an exciting new project for @ONE, a professional development program for California’s community college system. @ONE has a longstanding history within the system for providing valuable technology training programs for faculty and I have enjoyed working with them in the past on other projects including the development of their Online Teaching Certification program, the development of their Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning course, and the course, Building Online Community with Social Media, which I developed and taught for several years. @ONE is a treasure in California’s community college system, as most faculty have very limited support resources available to them on campus to assist them with teaching with technology and many faculty today find themselves without funding for conference travel.

The exciting program that launched this month is called The Center and it is designed to improve communication, sharing, collaboration, and innovation across California’s 112 community colleges. To achieve this lofty objective, The Center is leveraging the power of social media to bring faculty, staff, and administrators together in weekly conversations about meaningful topics.  I am thrilled to be part of this exciting endeavor and can’t wait to meet more of my CCC colleagues and learn from you fabulous, creative, dedicated individuals!  🙂

Ideally, topics for The Center will be suggested by the community but it takes time for communities to develop.  Cultivating community is like harvesting a crop.  We are in the early stages and spreading the word is like planting the seeds (we need your help!).  Until we have our roots, I am reaching into The Center’s active group of members to identify volunteers who have practices and stories to share (links are set up in the Google+ Community to volunteer for a Hangout and submit/vote on topics).

Each topic will engage The Center for a period of two weeks. First, it will take the form of a Hangout on Air and then a Twitter chat.  The Hangout on Air and Twitter chat are bridge by Center Challenges which offer CCC colleagues an opportunity to try something new and reflect on their new experiences by sharing a post (via a blog, Tweet, or Google+ update) with the community.

How The Center’s Conversations Foster a Learning Culture

Hangouts on Air are live, online video conversations launched in Google+. In these Hangouts, I interview a small, invited group of individuals from CCC colleges to discuss the topic at hand for a period of 30 minutes. The Hangout on Air is broadcast live to a public, online audience and members of the audience are encouraged to Tweet questions using The Center’s hashtag, #CCCLEARN. I moderate this feed of questions during the Hangout on Air and share any incoming questions with the participants. After the Hangout is over, it is archived to YouTube (see below), providing for direct viewing access for anyone who was unavailable for the live event.

After the Hangout, Tweets (tagged with #CCLEARN) and a G+ update is shared in The Center’s Google+ Community to encourage participation in the related Center Challenge.

The week after the Hangout on Air, the same topic is discussed in a #CCCLEARN Twitter chat. The Center’s Twitter chats are scheduled for every other Thursday at 3pm Pacific (join us this Thursday, October 18th!!). The day and time of the Twitter chats was collaboratively decided upon by the community using a poll in early October.

An Example!

Last week, we held our very first Hangout on Air. The topic was coordinated in support of Connected Educator month: “Stories from CCC Connected Educators: How Social Media Has Improved My Teaching & Sense of Community.” In this Hangout, I was joined by +Jennifer Garner, who teaches Biology part-time at Pasadena City College and Glendale Community College and +Mark Lawler  who teaches Geology online part-time at Lake Tahoe Community College and West Hills College, as well as three other institutions outside of CA and he resides in New York.  You are warmly invited to view the conversation below (my apologies for it being cut short due to a technological issue on my end!).

The Center Challenge for this topic is for community members to share how participating in social media has impacted their connectedness as an educator.  Members are encouraged to share these reflections in a blog post (and Tweet the link using the #CCCLEARN hashtag) or share a post in the The Center’s Google+ Community (filtered into the category “Center Challenges”).

We are holding a #CCCLEARN Twitter chat this Thursday, 10/18 at 3pm on the topic of “Becoming a Connected Educator.”  Please join us and bring a friend!  This is a terrific opportunity to learn how to use Twitter in a supportive, academic environment.

To participate in the Twitter chat, you need a Twitter account and this should be created prior to the 18th to be sure you are ready to go. At the start of chat, you may either go to Twitter.com and enter #CCCLEARN into the “search” box to view the flow of the conversation.  OR you might want to try going directly to the #CCCLEARN Twitter Chat room, which provides a more focused (less distracting) experience for Twitter chats that many users prefer.

The #CCCLEARN Tweet Chat room is accessible at: http://tweetchat.com/room/CCCLEARN

Please share this post with your circle of CA community college colleagues and meet me in The Center! Join the Google+ Community today and follow The Center on Twitter @center_ed.

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