When I was first introduced to the learning project for this class, we were encouraged to seek out different online communities that fit the new skill we were trying to learn. I kind of scoffed at the idea that there would actually be a community online for accordion players…come on.
But man someone should come and take the foot out of my mouth, because I was so wrong!
I cannot believe how many communities there are — and they are literally every which way you turn. So like any eager and nosy learner, I decided to join every single one I came across — and there were 7 of them.
It was fun at the beginning, but then I started to feel a little guilty that I was a part of every group; specifically, because I wasn’t being a genuine member and contributing to my fullest, because there were always so many groups to stay in contact with. I also raised the question of why there are so many separate groups. Is there some kind of major braul between them..will I get banished for lurking through them all?
But I’m a rebel, and I do not regret being a part of those groups at all. In fact, it strengthened my learning experience, because I was able to compare groups and find similarities and differences among them, essentially choosing my favourite group to continue on with and become a more active member.
The two communities that made it down to the final two were:
and Accordion Club on Google + Community
Before I get into the pros and cons of each community, I first want to discuss the benefits of joining an online group when learning a new skill, based on the experiences I have had throughout this semester:
- You will be more at ease.
It’s nerve wracking every single time I press the submit button to a new video on YouTube, with a fear that I will be judged harshly on my performance. But that’s not a problem in an online learning community. There is no shortage of participation by all different ability levels, and the more experienced are always willing to support you through — that’s why it’s called a community!
- You will benefit from geography …
Online learning communities offer the rare opportunity to learn alongside people from around the globe. As you communicate with others from different countries, you’ll benefit from both their unique viewpoints and distinct cultural perspectives.
- … and diversity.
Online learning communities not only give you the opportunity to engage with other countries, you’ll learn alongside people spanning a range of ages, professional backgrounds, and life experiences—enriching your education in unexpected ways.
- You will enjoy a sense of community.
As you advance in your online education, you’ll see that a sense of connection and community is truly at the core of online learning communities. It’s amazing to contribute to other’s learning!
For students, taking part in online communities is an amazing way to build relationships and learn from a variety of individuals — rather than one instructor. This is something that I really want to take into consideration as a teacher. As much as I love to talk, I need to ensure that I am providing a number of different learning opportunities for my kids, especially those that involve learning from others — whether that be someone in their online community group, an elder, or anyone else right within their own community. By having an increased number of perspectives for similar learning experiences, students will be able to gain a stronger understanding of where their values lie, as well as a more holistic understanding of a certain topic or subject based on the information shared.
Evaluating My Online Communities
Taking the ideas above into consideration, I created a pros and cons list for my two main communities: How To Accordion and Accordion Club.
Let’s start with How to Accordion:
Probably as you can tell from the title of the site, this community is all about providing how to videos for other accordionists — which is something I instantly jumped right on board with!
- Group members provide “how to” videos for other accordionists
- Difficulty level ranges anywhere from beginner (scales, bass notes) to advanced (full songs)
- Communities for other instruments are on the same website to enhance ‘cross-curricular’ conversation
- When you click to watch a video, the site provides a number of related videos — either from the same artist or same song
- Tough to navigate through to find a video that best suits your needs
- contributors only seem to be those that are advanced — others don’t feel comfortable uploading a “how to” when it is “how to ruin a song in 5 seconds”
- Videos are very poor quality, depending on the participant that uploaded it
- Very little comments are made on videos from other participants
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this community, mostly because it has opened my mind to a lot of different songs that can be played on the accordion. I also like the idea of having a community that is fully based around helping out others enhance their accordion skills!
And now for the Accordion Club from Google +:
The way this community is developed is very opposite from that of How to Accordion; which is probably why both groups intrigued me so much — they brought something completely different but beneficial to my learning experience. The intentions of this group is just to share videos of yourself or others to bring some fun and light into the world pf accordionists! There is one gentleman on here (to the right) that literally posts like 5-6 times a week and I absolutely love it. He is a gem.
- huge range of diversity among participants in terms of age. geography, skill level, and music interest
- relaxing and welcoming atmosphere to post videos of yourself
- also includes videos from professionals
- tons of opportunity to connect and follow others on Google +
- tough to navigate through if you are looking for a specific piece of music or video
- no “how to” videos, so simply a place to go and listen
- because of the diversity, it’s sometimes difficult to communicate through written comments due to language barriers
Overall, I really enjoy visiting and contributing to the Google + community, because everyone is so supportive and just happy that they have a new person joining the world of accordions. I was so nervous, but I actually posted my the video of my first song on there! No one commented though — so either they were horrified and wanted to be nice, or they actually enjoyed it — I am good with either!
Because both groups are so different from one another, they both contribute to my learning project in powerful ways. At first I was hesitant about joining so many community groups, because I was unable to keep up with it all; but it is also important to recognize the diversity that can come from those different groups and understanding what each can do for you — maybe not 8 communities; but 2 is great!