Three Questions for a Strong Second Life PLC
On Saturday morning of the Virtual Worlds Graduate UnSymposium, five leaders of a Second Life professional learning community related their secret to success. VSTE (Virginia Society of Technology Educators) explained the secret to their successful professional learning community (PLC) and gave out an invitation to participate in their activities.
What makes a strong PLC? or What has allowed you to continue in Second Life, when so many other educational organizations have been created and quickly died off?
The VSTE leaders responded that they have a strong core of leaders. They meet regularly once a week to plan events. They believe that they have found their niche – which is professional training for K – 8 educators. While these leaders seem enthusiastic and energetic they insisted that planning was crucial to their strength as a community. This seems to agree with the Gartner study from 2008 which stated that planning rather than spontaneity was essential to a sustainable community. At their schools, Second Life is not an option for their students. So instead they use ISTE as a way to provide online professional training that is more robust and personal than an Elluminate or Adobe Connect meeting.
Their weekly activities usually include a building session on Sunday. They have a “make and take” theme. Whatever their participants make it is expected that they will take back to their professional development. Monday nights are a much more traditional professional development event. They regularly bring in guest speakers to present and/or discuss a topic.
What social media do you use?
VSTE uses twitter http://twitter.com/vsteinsl, they have a Second Life Group named ” VSTE”, a wiki on wikispaces http://vstesl.wikispaces.com/ and a Ning site http://vsteonline.ning.com/group/secondlifevstemembers
The VSTE leaders did express that notices through the Second Life group seemed to be their most effective method of communication. Their twitter site has 388 followers but they do not follow anyone back.
Is there ever any burnout among your core group?
This is where the PLC seems to be the strongest. They have seven core members. All expressed that they experienced burnout from time to time but that their core group was large enough that someone else was able to pick up the slack. This core group of leaders took ownership of the community and also of sustaining the PLC past its initial phase. According to Howard (2010) having a focus and vision past the initial launch is essential to a sustainable online community. VSTE’s strong core group seems to be able to absorb the workload if one of its members cannot fully contribute.
September 16, 2008, In Gartner Says Many Social Software Projects Fail Due to IT Managers Not Having a Well-Defined Purpose to Succeed. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=758914.
Howard, R. ( July 30, 2010)In HOW TO: Manage a Sustainable Online Community. Retrieved October 26, 2010, from http://mashable.com/2010/07/30/sustainable-online-community/?utm_source=TweetMeme&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=retweetbutton