Arquivo da categoria: Dr. JUG

Users Groups, leadership, life & death and the wife of Julius Caesar

Leadership in Users Groups has always been a difficult task. Very few people in sane consciousness wants to be a community leader, to carry on the flag. Too much volunteer work, takes up a lot of a person’s time: away from family and friends, for nights, weekends, holidays and often one can not meet all the interests of the Greeks and Trojans, so often someone is really upset with you.

On the other hand (and everybody knows this) it is cool, is rewarding, you have community recognition, your ego is scratched, and your maturity, networking and knowledge is increased.

So, at the same time a person loves and hates being a community leader at the same time. Every week you promise to give up but suddenly receive an email from someone you didn’t know personally, but you know is a member of your group, just saying “Thank you” because your community work helped him to xxx (you fill the blank) so we carry on, until the next time.

Unfortunately for the group the “dark side of” this type of leadership is too dependent on one person. When the leader moves to another job or city the group usually dies. Until, a couple of years later after someone, upset with this situation, recreates the group and the loop starts again.

During my 15 years as a JUG Leader, I have seen in my own country 27 Users Groups simply vanish. More than 50% of JUGs disappeared during this period. [1] When I asked the leaders what happened, frequently the answers were: a – I gave up, b – I became interested in another subject (technology) or c – moved to another city/country.

Why does this happen? Why is it so difficult to substitute a leaving leader?

It’s not because we are a band of selfish or arrogant people, but because, once again, nobody wants to be the leader. We are always looking for someone to be the next one, just to allow us to take some holiday with our family or have the right to have a belly ache. We usually have a couple of names up our sleeve for future leaders, and we train, nurture, mentor and coach them, but people only accept being helpers, coordinators, supporters, you name it, but nobody wants to have the responsibility of the group. They usually say that they have a lot of responsibilities in their daily life and they don’t want to add another one. They are in your group to learn, to help, for fun or to do some community or social work. They support you doing volunteer work, when they can, when they have time but, we know… somebody must carry the flag.

In “Leaders Emerge by Talking First and Most Often” [2] Jeremy Dean suggests that leaders become leaders because they have a big mouth. “Put some random people in a group, give them a task and soon enough a leader will emerge”. Why? Because a dominant person usually offers more suggestions to the group and become seen by the group as a competent person “by making greater verbal contributions to discussions”.

How people emerge as leaders?

In another paper called “Why Do Dominant Personalities Attain Influence in Face-to-Face Groups” [3], I was looking for clues to help me understand the role of leadership in Users Groups and my reflections about this article made me remember something attributed to Caesar (but that he actually never said ;-), “It is not enough for Caesar’s wife to be honest, she must also look honest”.[4]

Anderson and Kilduff, research based on two lab studies, concluded that people with high dominance traits influence the group because “they behave in ways that make them appear more competent”. Like Pompeia (Caesar’s wife) a leader does not necessarily have to have competence in order to become a leader but must appear to the community that s/he has competence.

Usually we think that “Individuals high in trait dominance are assertive and motivated to lead, and thus take control through the force of their personality”. But, the process of becoming a Leader is much more subtle than using brute force, their research shows us that a leader tends to appear competent to fellow group members, “because of acting in ways that caused them to be perceived as more competent, despite not actually being more competent than their less dominant counterparts”, “even if they actually lack competence”.

Anderson and Kilduff’s research shows us that comparing competence, between leaders and their members, leaders provide first and more answers but the quality of their responses was not better than that provided by the people they lead. They show us that leaders dominance is based on the influence they build up inside the group, on signalling behaviours like, been helpful, confident and initiative-taking.

The community trusts its leaders and they usually ends up having the same opinion. My own research among 43 Brazilian Users Groups and their 191 leaders [5] gave me clues that the “health” of a Users Group can be measured by comparing the synchronicity of opinion of the group of Leaders and the group of the members when answering the same questions. I found that regardless of the question, the opinion of the leaders is quite the same as that of the community (with small maximum variation of 6.1%). Compared with a control group, developers which does not participate in users groups, the result remained the same, with a variation nearly 6.5%.

Graphic for Blog 2

As we can see above, when leaders speak the same language as the group members or (in other words) when members hear what they want to hear from their leaders, we have a “healthy” community. I believe the analysis of this kind of synchronicity between leaders and led can be a strong indicator (or predictor) of the life & death of the Users Groups.

Logo DrJUGDr. JUG
JUG Leader / Founding Java Champion
daniel@dfjug.org

2013-07-10
1 – Video Dr. JUG http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAi2CYwPST4&feature=digest_mon
2 – http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/02/leaders-emerge-by-talking-first-and.php. 16 February 2009. Visited 23 June 2013
3 – Anderson, Cameron, and Gavin J. Kilduff (2009), “Why Do Dominant Personalities Attain Influence in Face-to-Face Groups? The Competence-Signaling Effects of Trait Dominance”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 491-503.
4 – http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Júlio_César Visited 23 June 2013
5 – Oliveira, Daniel. Comunidades de prática: um estudo dos grupos de usuários Java brasileiros. Brasília: Universidade Católica de Brasília, 2005.
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User Groups: Changing lives one line at a time

The primitive need to exchange experiences, to a species that survived for millennia collectively, is reflected either these days in the User Groups (UG).

From Neanderthal campfires (exchanging experiences on hunting or gathering fruit) to the current learning experiences, what changes is the tool. The process of construction of meaning is the same.

Six or seven thousand years ago our ancestors left evidence, in petroglyphs and in primitive tools of communities of hunter-gatherers, of our natural predisposition to social cooperation. We learned that the survival of the community depended on sharing knowledge. We lost this surviving feature in hostile environments when we started to dominate the agriculture and livestock: we built villages that limited our mobility, we created rules, social institutions, cities, armies and companies. From a collaborative species we become individualistic beings. [1]

Now, through the UG we are learning again to work collaboratively, both in physical as well as in virtual spaces.

The impact of social networks on UG is incontestable. Nowadays virtually the entire social life of the community migrated from the Discussion Lists (DL) to Twitter, Facebook, among others.

I have observed in the DL of my group, and other Java User Groups (JUG), every day the contents has become almost exclusively technical (pure Bits & Bytes). Our DL have become a space for the exchange of pure technical knowledge, more focused on … How to do it?, … Show me … and, on the other hand, it seems that the community social life (job offer, developer behaviour, gossips, news) has migrated to Social Networks.

The UG has to be where its members are, and the solution is obvious: today the group have to be on social networks. But, where the users are located?

In a recent article, Poyan Sandnell asked “Did you know: Facebook is the third-largest country in the world?” [2]

The answer surprises and shows the tendency, it seems to me, that UG are following (or will fade away):

1: China
2: India
3: Facebook
4: WhatsApp
5: United States
6: Google+
7: Indonesia
8: Linkedin
9: Brazil
10: Twitter

With 1.23 billion users around the world the probability that your UG members are Facebook’s members too is not negligible. [3]

Choosing a platform with which one has more affinity tends to shape the perception of the world, from the perspective of the community that uses this service. [4]

Technology flame wars happen all the time between groups, people defending this or that platform only because someone invested more time learning how to use this or that tool. We love what was hard to conquer.

Twitter or Facebook? Twitter is more like Wikipedia than, say, Facebook. Twitter is not so much about connecting with your friends, it’s about broadcasting information. [5] Is more one to many, and Facebook on the other hand is more many to many.

But, what about Twitter as an social environment for an UG?

I choose Twitter for my field research because I need a very fast, easy tool for broadcasting my weekly questionnaire to the volunteers developers. A tool that everybody could have, in any cheap mobile (cell phone), anywhere in the world.

According to research, conducted on a random sample of about 300,000 Twitter users in 2009, 25% of Twitter users don’t tweet at all. [5] They only read what other posts, they lurk. In the same direction a report from the Harvard Business Review showed that the majority of Twitter users are passive and only 10% of participants are responsible for 90% for all content produced. [6]

According to my own research 82% of JUG members are Lurkers (they don’t participate) and only 12% are active members. What we need for the social activities of the community is a DL for all, a space where people feel free and safe to interact.

Don’t take me wrong here, as a form of membership, the Lurkers are very important element on the UG ecosystem. They are not free-riders, a heavy burden to the community as the leaders usually think (at least I did a lot!). They are the large, silent majority of users. [7]

They don’t participate because they feel uncomfortable about posting their thoughts, after reading some of the uglier flames, the tone and hostility of public forums. Here Julia gives her testimony: “I am afraid to post because the incredible arrogance and hostility among some people on sites like this.” “I’d like to learn Linux, but I don’t get the feeling that these people would help me. They would just make me feel stupid.” [8] Mason said: “people who lurk do so because they do not fell competent to post.” [7] I believe that Lurkers don’t participate because they are self protecting.

My hypothesis is that the Lurker in one community could be an active member in another. This action of lurking in your community is because the participant is in search of innovation, to take it back to where s/he is an active member. They can be the bridge that pollinates the innovation (bringing new knowledge) between communities.

On the other hand, flamers, trolls, bots, spammers, porn freaks, griefers and other troublemakers are vital to communities too. They have a social role in the DL, because they leverage the community benchmark. In creating problems they force people to think, be indignant, react, and eventually… learn.

So, in my opinion, if the goal of your group is to “help people”, change their lives one line at a time, create for your members an amazing and friendly experience for knowledge sharing, (a) the community need to keep a private space to exchange Bits & Bytes
– It’s not good expose the trial and error learning experiences of the developers publicly, where external people (like Headhunters and other possible contractors), can get a bad idea of what is happening.
– Experiential learning is key to meaningful learning [9]
– Error is an option! Actually it is a fundamental behaviour in learning. [10]
– Eventually could be a private space, accessed only by subscription, inside in one of this open SN.
but, (b) the social life of the UG should be on an open and transparent social networks.

 
Logo DrJUG

Daniel – Dr. JUG
JUG Leader / Founding Java Champion
daniel@drjug.inf.br
Brasil
 
I thank Sebastian Dziallas for helpful support.
 
References:
1 – TAPSCOTT, Don. Wikinomics: como a colaboração em massa pode mudar o seu negócio (How mass collaboration changes everything). Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 2007.

2 – SANDNELL, Poyan. Did you know: Facebook is the third-largest country in the world? Available at: http://www.ericsson.com/thinkingahead/the-networked-society-blog/2014/07/14/know-facebook-third-largest-country-world/, accessed: 2014-12-05.

3 – Facebook’s 10th birthday: from college dorm to 1.23 billion users. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/04/facebook-10-years-mark-zuckerberg, accessed: 2014-12-05.

4 – SPYER, Juliano. Tudo o que você precisa saber sobre Twitter (All you need to know about Twitter). São Paulo: Talk2, 2009. Available at: http://www.talk2.com.br/conteudos-exclusivos/, accessed: 2014-12-05.

5 – SCHROEDER, Stan. Twitter is Not Your Average Social Network. Available at: http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/twitter-users-dont-tweet/, accessed: 2014-12-05.

6 – HEIL, Bill; PISKORSKI, Mikolaj. New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men Available at: https://hbr.org/2009/06/new-twitter-research-men-follo, accessed: 2014-12-05.

7 – Nonnecke, B. and Preece, J. (2001). Why lurkers lurk. In Americas
Conference on Information Systems, pp. 1-10.

8 – Katz, J. (1998). Luring the lurkers. Available at: http://slashdot.org/features/98/12/28/1745252.shtml, accessed: 2014-12-05.

9 – Conner, M. (2000). Linking, Lurking, Listening, and Learning: An interview with John Seely Brown. Available at: http://www.johnseelybrown.com/linklearn_int.html, accessed: 2014-12-05.

10 – PERKINSON, Henry J. Learning from our mistakes: A reinterpretation of twentieth-century educational theory. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984.
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User Groups: Elevator Pitch

To my great surprise, “The Man” ** entered the elevator where I had been alone.

** Larry, or Sergey, or Bill, or Steve, or …

After the shock of running into the Great Almighty, he looked at me, shook his head as a kind of short greeting, and asked: “What are you doing?”

In fact the tone of the question was not curiosity. It was more “what are you doing with my money AND what return will I receive after all I paid you for?”

As my floor was already coming, I had to think fast, and said: “I identify how millions of the User Group members learn about and support the company’s products.”

Curious, he asked “how so?”
—-
User Groups are strategically important for IT companies because happy members are the best advocates of company’s products. They are highly qualified professionals, they support, evangelize and teach others how to make best use of products. As volunteers, they are direct and harshly honest but, want to collaborate with the success of company. Why? … Because they believe.

They believe they will change the world. [01]

The ideal would be support all UG, because in this way companies would reach out millions of highly skilled consumers to support their products. But, sadly, there are always budget constraints. Not enough money to support them all. On the other hand, there are groups that seem strong, but are not. Others seem to have no expression and we may be missing a good opportunity to support them, because their members have an excellent penetration in the local market. So, how to discover these hidden gems? How to maximize the budget?

We know the path by which innovation arrive and is diffused to the members as new information. We also have a metric that allow us to calculate the perceived value of the UG, across dimensions such as, for example, quality, service, cost and time, among others. The result is an indicator that shows us the rate of “health” of the group, its success/fail factor, eventually its life or death. This knowledge helps us to determine where is best to apply the limited resources in order to maximize results, and avoid losses.

This is a two-way hand, companies find that working with UG reap dividends of competence and collective genius.
—–

Of course, this story never happened, but it happened to my friend Fernando Anselmo. [03] He was in an elevator when the president of the company he worked for entered, and asked him exactly the same question.

This is my “elevator pitch” that I would like to have presented at a conference that I attended two months ago. We were asked to do it in just two minutes, and only one colleague did. I ran over my time by fifteen seconds. Argh! Now, with this short speech, I hope to be better prepared the next time.

In 2004 I wrote in my column at MundoJava magazine (JavaWorld, in Portuguese) an article entitled “How your company makes money from the JUG?” [04] but it was soft. I believe this one here is more crude and direct. It explains to businessmen why they should support UG, in the only language I believe they understand .. $$$

And you, are you ready for an “elevator pitch?” which could be the opportunity of YOUR life! [05]

Logo DrJUG

Daniel – Dr. JUG
JUG Leader / Founding Java Champion
daniel@drjug.inf.br
Brasil

I thank Luci Campos, Fernando Anselmo, Rainer Brockerhoff, Roland Smart and Ian Utting for helpful conversations.

01 – KAWASAKI, Guy. The Macintosh Way. HarperCollins Publishers, 1989.
02 – TAPSCOTT, Don; WILLIAMS, Anthony D. Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything. Penguin, 2008.
03 – Fernando Anselmo – https://java.net/website/java-champions/bios.html#Anselmo
04 – How your company makes money from the JUG?, MundoJava magazine – number 07, pages 09 and 10, September 2004.
05 – Elevador Pitch – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_pitch

Personal motivations on learning about governance in User Groups

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. I was talking to a French researcher and I asked him why all of his papers were written in English? And his answer shocked me, in its crude simplicity : “because I want to be read”. From this conversation I learned that if you have a message to share, use a language that everybody knows and not only a particular group of people.

So, forgive me countrymen, I will write in this blog my comments about what I’m learning now about User Groups (UG) in English because I want, actually I eagerly need, feedback from colleagues around the world about my thoughts. I invite YOU to send, your comments about the texts that I’m posting here about UG governance.

I just finished reading the book “Autoethnography as method”, of Heewon Chang (2008) [01]. For those who doesn’t know, (I didn’t) “Autoethnography is a form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experience and connects this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings.” [02] In my words, I would say, it is an academic tool where the researcher is the subject of his own research, contextualized in his values, beliefs, history and experiences.

Inspired by this book on Autoethnography I will comment here on my personal experiences and motivations to learn and understand more of this fascinating field – at least for me ;-) – of the UG.

Last Sunday I read the book’s Appendix F, which has an example of an article based on this methodology: “Experience and context in the making of a Chicano activist” from Jaime J. Romo. I didn’t know if I should concentrate on the structure of the method (which was my goal, anyway) or on his very well written text (tipical problem Form X Content). From poverty in outskirts of Los Angeles to a PhD in education.

In my country I saw dozens of similar cases, poor kids from slums struggling to survive. Some won, most failed. I’m sad for thso who didn’t sucees because, unfortunately there are so many of them, and it’s not their fault at all. Happy for those few who managed to built a carrier in this competitive market of software development, and specially for those who arduously conquered their jobs after, for instance, learning Java through the JEDI Initiative [03].

Since 1982 I worked with my good friend Rainer Brockerhoff [04] who introduced me first to Apple II and later to the first Macintosh – the 128K model, which I eventually “inherited” ;-). In 1994 he invited me to help him create a Macintosh User Group – MUG in Belo Horizonte (Brazil). At the time I had no idea what an UG was, but it seemed to be a good idea and I accepted. The project did not take off for several reasons, but what I learned eventually opened the doors to my spending to two years in Paris studying at the “Apple Developer University” and later working at the Apple “Developer Resource Center (DRC)” in São Paulo (Brazil).

At the DRC I worked many many layers below “chief evangelist” Guy Kawasaki [Figure 01], where I learned about the disruptive Macintosh “cult”, how to help programmers to produce insanely great products and the strategic importance of creating strong links between developers and the IT companies [05], which is financially good for both sides. It was my UG school!

But the world was about to change and my life as well.

At World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) 1996, in San Jose, the subject would be the difficult Operational System (OS) transition from Pascal and C to C++ and how to evangelize developers for the future Macintosh OS (the Copland project [06] [07]). But another subject stole the whole event and ended up making a huge fuzz. People mostly spoke of Java, which had been launched in the previous year. It was crazy and I remember there was talks about this new language everywhere… even in the restrooms. I sought to find out what this new “animal” was, everyone saying that this would be the next revolution. Excited, I bought a book [08] about the subject and after reading a few pages and making some examples I decided to dedicate my career and my future to this new language. I never regretted this decision.

Kawasaki 1996

Figure 01 – Daniel, Create like a god. Command like a king. Work like a slave. Program like an Apple developer! Guy Kawasaki 05/May/1996

Back in Brazil, now living in Brasília, and because the previous experience of working with MUG, I was “invited” to launch the Federal District Java User Group – DFJUG [09], on the second Saturday of 1998. What amazes me was the value that this group brought to the local community, to the point of becoming one of the top five largest JUG in the world, with 47,000 members.

This social phenomenon encouraged me to do a Masters in Knowledge Management, and the result was a dissertation entitled “Communities of Practice: a study of Brazilian Java User Groups”. The main conclusion was that the developers seek UG because they want to learn.

During the last 19 years I have learned a lot about UG management, the more I learned, the more questions arise about its governance, failures and successes. I became obsessed with this subject. Today we have 26 active JUG in Brazil, but in 15 years we lost 27 groups [10] and we see this phenomena happening all over the world. What are the reasons for this high death rate of more than 50%? My belief is that if we understand how the innovation / learning / knowledge flows between UG we can predict the success or failure of UG to avoid this death rate. This is my goal now.

To answer this fundamental questions I’m currently a Computer Science PhD student at the University of Kent, in Canterbury (UK), with the group that created the BlueJ and Greenfoot learning / development tools. I believe that my present research will contribute to studies in the “Computer Supported Collaborative Learning – CSCL” area, assist UG in their mission to better support professional developers in their lifelong process of learning and enhance the employability of their members in the IT market.

Logo DrJUG

Daniel – Dr. JUG
JUG Leader / Founding Java Champion
daniel@drjug.inf.br
Brasil

I thank Fabio Hedayioglu, Sebastian Dziallas and Rainer Brockerhoff for helpful conversations.

01 – CHANG, Heewon. Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008.
02 – Autoethnography – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoethnography
03 – Java Education and Development Initiative – http://www.dfjug.com.br/jedi
04 – Rainer Brockerhoff – http://brockerhoff.net/about.html
05 – KAWASAKI, Guy. The Macintosh Way. HarperCollins Publishers, 1989.
06 – AMELIO, Gil; SIMON, William. On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple Computer. Harper Business, 1998.
07 – Copland project – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copland_(operating_system)
08 – JOSHI, Daniel I.; LEMAY, Laura; PERKINS, Charles L. Teach yourself Java in Cafe in 21 days. Sams, 1996.
09 – DFJUG – www.dfjug.org
10 – Your Users Group May Die Soon – http://www.dfjug.com.br/your-users-group-may-die-soon-2/

User Groups: Community Collaborative Learning

ABSTRACT

This work explores the behaviour of User Groups — the ad hoc, geographically-based, socio-technical networks formed by users of particular software technologies as networking, self-help and mutual learning spaces. We compare these networks to the discussion lists, (general) social networks and communities of practice which these users also inhabit. We situate the work in ideas from Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Communities of Practice, as well as the ongoing research into discussion list and social network use.

We have postulated a taxonomy of the modes of participation in these User Groups, looking at both the structure of the Groups and the way that participants’ engagement varies over time. We are now moving on to validate that taxonomy with a more formalized investigation of participants’ interactions and particularly the role that Peripheral Members and Visitors (external speakers and technology evangelists) might play as Weak Ties transferring teaching, learning and innovation between the Groups.

 

KEYWORDS

Social Networks; Communities of Practice; Discussion Lists; Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning; Weak Ties; User Groups.

RESEARCH SITUATION

Full time Doctoral student, currently starting the second year, and planning to defend the thesis in December 2015. Models of the structure and dynamics of (Java) User Groups have been created. I am now starting the development of instruments to validate these models, like questionnaires and a personal diary of community learning.

 

CONTEXT AND MOTIVATION

A professional suddenly finds himself hard pressed to find a solution to a problem. He looks at various sources of information such as books, magazines, Internet search engines, and friends but no answer meets his needs. Finally he discovers that there is a User’s Group – UG where he can meet hundreds of people like him who will be very happy to help him to solve his problem. He tries … and it works. Cases like this are happening every day, all the time, across the planet. People who do not know each other are collaborating to solve their mutual problems. There are hundreds of Computer Users Groups around the world, supported by IT global enterprises such as Google, Xerox, HP, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and Red Hat. These groups are informal associations for technical discussion where people feel relaxed and able to exchange knowledge with their peers, in a free and informal way. Working as learning spaces, UGs are helping millions of developers to seek all sorts of information [5]. As an example, Oracle stated (May 2012) that the Java community is composed of nine million Java developers around the world. Every major city has local groups of these corporate social networks, such as the 175 Java User Groups – JUG. Peers are all collaboratively teaching and learning, on a non-formal basis but, how does this learning happen? We aim to investigate this aspect of the work of User’s Group, and to base our work in ideas from “Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning” – CSCL, “Communities of Practice” and “Weak Ties”.

 

BACKGROUND & RELATED WORK

Granovetter (1973, 1983) proposed the idea that weak ties in networks connecting between various groups, breaks the cluster configuration (strong ties), and function as bridges through which circulate innovations. [1] “In strong ties networks, there is a common identity, the dynamics generated in these interactions do not extend beyond the clusters, for this reason, in those networks one seek people with strong references for decision-making. Weak ties are fundamental to spread innovation because they connect us with several other groups, breaking the setting of “isolated islands of clusters” and assuming the configuration of social network. In the same way Zhu (2013) showed that members overlapping participation in other groups are an important factor in the survival of Online Communities. [2] Wenger (1998) defines Communities of Practice – CoP as “[…] a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic, deepening their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” [3] CoP are composed by the Core group (leader, guru, coordinator, moderator, mentor, facilitator), Active members (user, agitator, volunteer, participant) and people doing silent Peripheral participation (lurker). When the space becomes the Internet, a CoP is transformed into a learning Social Network – SN and becomes a mediated knowledge community (as the case of computer corporate UG), because it broadens its scope. Mediated by the Web, the scale of a CoP transformed into a SN can reach millions of members [4]. In “Communities of Practice: a study of Brazilian Java User Groups” Oliveira (2005) showed the relationship between the CoP and the UG, strengthened the role of the leader of these groups and concluded that developers came to UG because they want to learn. These UG are spaces where people feel empowered to search and share knowledge freely with their peers [5]

 

STATEMENT OF THESIS/PROBLEM

We understand that, within the scope of learning supported by computers, CSCL covers four areas (or facets) which are of interest of this research, Communities of Practice, Discussion Lists, Social Networks and User Groups. The data obtained so far suggest that the participation model created by Wenger in 2002, for the CoP (where the goal of the group is the practice), is essentially also valid for UGs (where the goal of the group is the community). We have identified four groups that seem to form the structural body of the UG: the Core Group, Active Member, the Peripheral Group and Innovation Vectors (IV) who embody the Weak Ties. The first three are founded in the work of Wenger to the extent that they represent participation in CoP and the concept of IV was a contribution derived from the work of Granovetter (1983) on the transfer of innovation in SN (whose focus is to facilitate people to make contact) and in Discussion Lists (whose purpose is to help people to interact around a topic). These Information Vectors (Weak Ties) are responsible, we suggest, for the dissemination of knowledge within communities, and are a key to understanding the process of learning within the UG.

Our hypothesis is that the external visitors (often company-funded “evangelists” and/or other UG leaders) coming in as technical speakers to community events are responsible for the process of information shared inside the group. Also, peripheral members of one group, when moving between different communities often bring new information, a hot topic discussed in another groups, in a process of cross pollination, making the role of “Bees” to the this UG. Therefore, visitors or members moving freely between UG, without strong relations with the community are the weak ties that bring innovation to the groups, the Innovation Vectors, and consequently improve the process of teaching / learning of their members.

The objectives of the proposed thesis are: (General) – A proposal for modelling computer learning on the Social Networks created/supported by computer corporations, from requirements that have been previously established for the design, planning, implementation and management of User’s Group. (OB1) – Identify the learning patterns in these Social Networks; (OB2) – Propose a theoretical framework for characterizing the learning phenomena of these Social Networks; (OB3) – Validate and apply the bases defined previously in computing Users Group.

 

RESEARCH GOALS & METHODS

To reach the objective of this research, which is “learning happens in a collaborative environment because the Innovation Vectors bring knowledge to the community”, two instruments need to be developed, a questionnaire and a small scale diary, to UG developers who accept support this study. The methodology proposed is a mix of quantitative analysis of data collected from the questionnaire that will inform a qualitative analysis over selective variables identified.

An ethnographic study of the participation in theses communities will be performed, – among the global UG leaders to determine the size of the Core and IV components of their groups, and – among the group members to determine the collaborative process they use to obtain solutions to their technical problems in the UG.

Learning is very hard to measure because people participating in any UG have different personal agendas. A very individualized learning process happen however we can measure their behaviour based on their personal declarations. The individual learning behaviour of a UG member can show us that there is a bridge between participation and learning. To address these two points we will need to examine the learning behaviour of members of these communities. Developers around the world who self-identify as UG members will be asked to record their learning experiences in a diary, during three months. The goal is to have them record every learning interaction they had in the previous week which was the result of an interaction with the UG organization (for example, participation in a community meeting, watching a group presentation or interacting with a UG Discussion List) AND/OR a personal social/technical contact with a group member (physical or virtual). Additional interviews by Skype will be conducted for clarification.

DISSERTATION STATUS

During the first year of this research a number of activities were undertaken. Two questionnaires and interview-based studies have been conducted and a number of other activities undertaken: 1 – the term User Group was defined, 2 – a video presenting the professional and academic motivations of the author related to this work was produced, 3 – a text about the history of the Brazilian Java community was written, 4 – a text analysing the peculiar characteristics of the process of leadership in a UG, 5 – the external entities that influence the structure and the dynamic of the community was identified, 6 – the perceptions and understanding of the UG leaders of the notion of Collaboration were evaluated. A model of the structure and dynamics of UG was created and now need to be validated.

For the second year a study about collaborative learning in an UG, based on the narrative of their members is proposed. To accomplished this task it is necessary to develop and deploy instruments to validate these models; these activities should take next twelve months.

At this stage of the research, only the literature review can be considered reasonably complete; all the work of modelling and conducting the field research still needs to be developed.

 

EXPECTED CONTRIBUTIONS

This work will contribute to studies in the CSCL knowledge area, assist User Groups in their mission to better support professional developers in their lifelong learning and enhance the employability of their members in the IT market.

Daniel deOliveira

University of Kent
School of Computing
Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF, UK
dioa2@kent.ac.uk

Ian Utting

University of Kent
School of Computing
Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF, UK

I.A.Utting@kent.ac.uk

REFERENCES

[1] Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of Weak Ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological theory, 1(1), pp. 201-233.
[2] Zhu, H., Kraut, R. and Kittur, A. (2013). The impact of membership overlap on the survival of online communities. In Proceedings of CHI, pp. 281–290.
[3] Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.
[4] Wenger, E., White, N. and Smith, J. D. (2009). Digital habitats: Stewarding technology for communities. Cpsquare.
[5] Oliveira, D. (2005). Comunidades de Prática: um estudo dos Grupos de Usuários Java brasileiros. Master’s thesis, Universidade Católica de Brasília.
 

BibTeX citation: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2632334

@inproceedings {deoliveira2014user,
title=            {User groups: community collaborative learning},
author=        {deOliveira, Daniel and Utting, Ian},
booktitle=     {Proceedings of the tenth annual conference on International     computing education research},
pages=         {165–166},
year=            {2014},
organization= {ACM}
}

 

ICER 2014