Friday, July 4, 2008

July issue of MicroSCoPE and some ramblings about SCoPE

The July issue of MicroSCoPE, the monthly update on SCoPE activities, is now available. In this issue we have quite a hefty "PeriSCoPE" section. It's neat to hear about the projects and activities that SCoPE members are involved in. This month I have been corresponding with graduate students at George Mason University who are using SCoPE as a case study for their project on distance learning. I didn't mention the project in the newsletter because there is no "outcome" document to point to, but they have provided some useful feedback. Here are a few points:
1. Use surveys as a way for lurkers to be involved in providing feedback on the community.
2. Revisit mission statement.
3. Recruit more people.
The first recommendation made me realize that we haven't provided an easy way for lurkers (our largest group!) to participate in improving the community. We have talked about doing more surveys, but get bogged down in the details of what we want to ask. Actually, we want the members to decide what to ask! Our annual "SCoPE Next Steps" seminars, usually scheduled around August/September have been very useful. Perhaps a focus this year can be on research about SCoPE.

The second recommendation made me realize that the information about our audience might be ambiguous. From the beginning there has been a tension about how to present SCoPE as an open, international community but also serve the local audience of the institution that supports the community financially. (SFU supported SCoPE until March, 2008.) I felt very strongly that we should be careful not to present the community as primarily for SFU educational practitioners. I didn't want the rest of the world to feel like they were in some kind of "also welcome" category. I even avoid spelling out SCoPE -- 'S' technically stands for SFU in the Community of Practice for Educators. Can you think of something else the 'S' could stand for? I'd love to hear it!

The third recommendation has me a little stumped. Last count we had 2,026 members, and since SCoPE is wide open there are many, many more members on the periphery. I'm not sure more members is what we need. However, there are certainly many more things we could be doing to improve our experiences in SCoPE, and that requires more help. A high priority would be better support and resources for facilitators, some interface and technical fixes on the site, and my oh my wouldn't it be nice to have a writer -- someone to prepare summaries of seminars and events.

We have a 3-week hiatus from seminar discussions which gives some time to do some tidying up. There are a few special interest groups that need some attention. Some have probably run their course and are ready for archiving. Never a shortage of things to do! I haven't scheduled the "Next Steps" discussion yet because I need to figure out vacation time, but please start thinking about what we can be doing to improve SCoPE!

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