I recently started research on Community of Inquiry. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is an instructional design model focused on creating an educational experience based on social, cognitive, and teaching presence. While reading on the CoI model and framework - it made me think about my own community.
As an instructional designer it is not only important to build, develop, and keep up on trends in the field but also build your own support system or community. However, how does a does a novice instructional designer go about doing this? For those who are new to the field or are just looking for a way to build your community look no further!
Take Courses - Taking courses or training seminars can help not only build your skill set but surround you with people who are interested in the same topic. While every learner has their own goal for what they take away from a class or seminar - never underestimate building a relationship with someone outside of your way of thinking. Pushing yourself to think of something from another viewpoint is just as important as surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
Be Active on Blogs & Online Communities - There are so many instructional design bloggers out there that it may seem over whelming at first. I suggest reading and going through some ID blogs and find one that sparks a fire or thought in you. Once you find something like this - express yourself online. Use these blogs as means to find answers to questions you have. You would be surprised how much an online community can help you when you have an issue. The best thing - people are ALWAYS online. Therefore, no matter when your issue arises - you can post and someone will be there to help you out. In addition, almost all tools or subjects have an online community where users can express concerns or work on their issues with others in the same boat.
Join LinkedIn & Facebook Groups - LinkedIn and Facebook are great ways to build a community. You want to make sure you market yourself and list all of your skills - especially in LinkedIn. You can post all of this information and ask for internships, volunteer work, or even just to have conversations with others in the field. LinkedIn Groups help connect individuals with a shared passion. Use LinkedIn to start the conversation and then take that conversation offline by connecting to individuals at conferences, webinars, and live events. Facebook is more informal but can still help you connect with individuals who may not be on LinkedIn. Facebook seems to allow for a more effortless conversation online over LinkedIn.
Accept Collaborative Opportunities - While some collaborative opportunities may increase your workload - think of the potential benefits of these opportunities. Will you meet new individuals? Will your work be part or something bigger or help the community? Does the collaboration expand your knowledge or skills on a topic? Taking on these extra items can make a big difference if they are important to you.
Freelance - Working on freelance projects is especially important for the brand-new instructional designer with limited experience. While you work and gain experience, freelance opportunities allows for you to explore different types of companies and see what you like and don't like to do before you commit to a position that requires all of your time. In addition, you never know when these contacts will come in handy later down the road. For example, if you work on a freelance project focused on e-learning, you now have contacts in the e-learning community if you ever need help later on.
Attend Conferences - Both online and face-to-face conferences can expand your knowledge. The good news is chances are almost everyone is in the same boat as you are - they are looking to meet new people, they are nervous and a bit afraid of reaching out, everyone has value to add to the conversation. Take these conversations and create relationships with people.
How have you built your ID community? Which method has worked best for you in building relationships with others with similiar interests?