Community healing

One way to comprehend the possibility of "working in a healing way" is to watch healing occur in online communities. Those of us with subscriptions to the RSS feeds of many blogs are situated in the diverse voices of several communities. Reading the variety and interactions of these voices reveals a kind of healing that can also occur in workplaces.

Communities usually take shape with an exclusive, narrow focus. The educators in Second Life appear to be supporting each other in finding resources and building basic elements (prims) for their students. Their narrow focus in on the tools themselves -- necessitated by the steep learning curve to function inside Second Life. The community exploring the use of Web 2.0 tools in instructional design appears to be focused on numerous processes that use those tools. The frequent mention in blogs of informal learning, social learning and distributed learning indicates a community focus on how to use the tools more than on the tools themselves.

The successful formation of a community results in exclusivity and conformity pressures. Deviance from the focus is ruled out. Dissent gets experienced as disruptive if it invades the community of legitimized voices. The invaders appear to wound the community and the community's focus invalidates the "off-mission" voices. The community moves from "forming" to "storming".

Communities fizzle out if they fortress themselves and silence dissent. This dysfunctional posture maintains pleasantries, superficial compatibility and a luggage room full of unresolved issues. Communities only thrive if they move from "storming" to "norming" by integrating the adjacent and tangential voices. Expanding the focus heals the previous divisiveness. Including the dissenting voices restores the authentic functions of the community. Changing the rules for "getting respected" has a transformational effect on all the members.

This morning, I imagined a diagram that pictures this healing in the community using Web 2.0 tools in instructional design.

One dividing line separates voices with a short term, tangible focus from voices with a long range, unsubstantiated focus. The other dividing line polarizes analytical, categorizing thought processes from exploratory, synthesizing cognitive patterns. These lines create four camps that are coming together into a vibrant, balanced, fruitful and energizing community of diverse contributors. Watching this coalescing take shape will give you a picture of "working in a healing way".

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