Webb, Keith, Appukuttan, Shailesh, Burton, Steve and Reynolds, Cheryl (2006) Mind map of an online community: a student-centred perspective. In: ALT-C 2006, the 13th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology: The Next Generation, 5th - 7th September 2006, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Unpublished)

This proposal is for a poster that supplements the demonstration of an "online community". It depicts the web-based support that is being made available to a set of learners who share a particular role and area of expertise, but who are separated by geography and isolated by specialism.

"Subject Specialist Online Communities (SSOCs)" are being developed for trainee teachers who work in the Learning and Skills sector (further education colleges, training organizations, work-based or adult and community learning contexts). Because the curriculum that these tutors deliver is so specialized and their work-places are so dispersed, they have very limited opportunities for face-to-face contact with others who are learning to teach the same academic or vocational specialism, or with tutors with experience of that process.

A national framework distinguishes 50 subjects or sectors within Learning and Skills and the intention is to cultivate a SSOC for each one. As depicted by the poster, each SSOC will provide a range of services and facilities to support trainee teachers who have these particular areas of expertise. These will include features such as access to teaching materials for the particular subject, means of observing advanced practitioners in that specialism, mechanisms for mentoring dispersed learners, tools for communication and collaboration between peers, and links to relevant professional networks and bodies.

The poster will be a diagrammatic representation of a "SSOC" in the form of a mind map. Rather than adopting a functional perspective with an emphasis on components (digital repository, discussion forums, wikis, learning activity management etc), the poster will present a student-centred perspective. It depicts the kinds of activity that they can undertake with others in developing their specialism-specific pedagogic skills.

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