BYOC – Bring Your Own Community

Back in November, in a post I wrote called “I don’t want to join your (stinkin’) network,” I was reaching for the idea that at last out technology is sufficiently advanced that we can talk about making it adapt to us, instead of the other way around. Take a look inside any coffee shop near a university and you’ll see it’s packed with students, partly for the free wifi, to be sure, but also because coffee shops, fast food restaurant and public libraries are about community and access where schools are about isolation and control.

But this post, Goodbye Skype: why we need an #agile approach to learning technology in the #SocialAge, puts it much better. Author Julian Stodd says the mindset of control is outdated. Even BYOD, he suggests, is a reflection of that sort of thinking. What we’re really after is BYOC–bring your own community. I love that expression.

To be fair, schools have a high duty of care so that has to be weighed against how open we make schools. There’s good research, from Gordon Neufeld, for example, that says we shouldn’t send kids out into the wider community too early. But Stodd’s point is an extremely important consideration. Saying to ourselves, “We need to manage our technology,” is very different from saying, “We need to manage our community.”

Not incidentally, this changes the mindset of IT departments. Historically, they have been all about protecting what’s on the inside–people and the network–from what’s on the outside. Their’s was a purely defensive. Now it has to be something like a guarded welcome.

This also has implications for teaching: if we’re opening up schools to broader and more varied communities, then we need to be sure our students are equipped to move safely and responsibly in them.

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