Digital Cohorts and Academic Communities

Jamie Henthorn's picture

This month, MediaCommons takes on the question: How do we build digital cohorts and academic communities?

In The Wealth of Networks, Yochai Benkler argues that with today’s cheap access to computers and internet, “The removal of physical constraints on effective information production has made human creativity and the economics of information itself the core structuring facts in the new networked information economy” (4). The digital age is supposed to help us connect across distances to do things not possible before. As more of the work we do happens online and more universities offer online admittance, the creation and use of digital networks and technologies becomes increasingly more important. Yet these communities do not build themselves and even spontaneous communities require existing structures.  

There is a great deal of theory on how networks and communities work. However, it’s always beneficial to see that theory in application. For the next four weeks MediaCommons has asked experts, scholars, teachers, and students to weigh in on the question of digital academic communities. Daily we will post short responses to the question of how these communities are cultivated, how we cross over into other communities, how graduate students in online and hybrid programs create community, and how we evaluate the successes and failures of these communities.

Many in our MediaCommons community have worked in digital cohorts and academic communities and we invite you to join our conversation through commenting and sharing links on the site and through social media. Our intention is that these short posts turn into much larger discussions with your help and insight. At the end of the month we hope to aggregate these into a larger document for use after the project is completed. To keep up with these daily postings, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Edit: Here is a list of authors of posts that we will update daily with the new articles.

1/7: You can't have "community" without "scholars" can you?
      Avi Santo, Old Dominion University  
1/8: Integrative Interactive Intertextuality
     Jeremy Butler, University of Alabama
1/9: Build it, Throw a Party, then Woo 'em In
       Shelly Rodrigo, Old Dominion University
1/10: It All Starts in my Departmental Office
       Alisa Perren, Georgia State University
1/11: Our love/hate relationship with the ‘digital’ in scholarly networks
       Jamie Henthorn, Old Dominion University

1/14: Community Means Crossing Boundaries
         Dave Jones, Old Dominion University
1/15:  Getting the Antenna to Work
       Jonathan Gray, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1/16: Facebook and Foolywang: An Alternative Digital Cohort Story
       Kristen Warner, University of Alabama
1/17: The Strength of Weak Ties
       Anne Petersen, Whitman College
1/18: If you Build it, Will they Come?
       Sam Ford, Massachusetts Institute for Technology
1/18:  communities and cohorts
       Bethany Nowviskie, University of Virginia

1/21: Passing Notes in Class: Collaboration, Community, and In-Class Synchronous Chat
       Danielle Roney Roach, Old Dominion University
1/22: ‘That’s What She Said’: Humor, Performance, and Digital Collaboration
       Megan Mize, Old Dominion University
1/23: ‘Hey Peeps, Remember When…’: Social Media and Shared Experience for Geographically Scattered Cohorts
       Cheri Spiegel, Old Dominion University
1/24: Remixing Digital Cohorts
       Mark Blaauw-Hara, Old Dominion University
1/25: Building digital cohorts: The WHY
       Joyce Neff, Old Dominion University
1/25: Commenting, Conversation, and Community
       Karen Petruska, Northeastern University

1/28: Resistence is Futile. You will be Assimilated.
       Ken McAllister, The University of Arizona and Judd Ruggill, Arizona State University
1/29: The kairotic nature of online scholarly community building
       Cheryl Ball, Illinois State University
1/30: The Sidewalk Life of Successful Communities
       Dan Cohen, George Mason University
1/31: Creating Community Investment
       Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Modern Language Association
2/1: Errata to Live By
       David Roh, Old Dominion University

2/4: Chance, love, politics
       Dana Heller, Old Dominion University
2/5: Kristina Busse, Independent Scholar
2/6: Julie Wilson, Allegheny College
2/7: Karen Hellekson, Independent Scholar
2/8: Anthony Nadler, Ursinus College
2/8: Tim Anderson, Old Dominion University


Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo's picture


 Jamie, I know part of the plan for this group of discussion is to build community here. What is the strategy for building community around this discussion? What are your goals? 

Jamie Henthorn's picture

Sorry to take so long to get

Sorry to take so long to get to your post. My goal is to get individuals interested with and feeling as though they can participate in this community, especially since the front-page has been relatively innactive for some time. My strategy was to invite scholars and professionals active in digital communities, to our existing social medias and to encourage others who contribute to share with their own communities, and to get posts replied to. So far, I think we have had pretty positive results.