Having read Puch & Prosak’s article titled Designing Effective Knowledge Networks, I will comment on my interpretation of their principles to the above mentioned mentioned facebook group.
The ISLC group is a collection of individuals who connect through the facebook platform to invent and share a body of knowledge related to international school libraries. The focus is on developing, distributing and applying knowledge about the running of school libraries, associated policies and procedures. Facebook provides a web-based platform where existing membership of the social media platform is now extended in a more specialised closed group (membership must be applied for). The shared interest is school library matters and the common goal to find solutions to problems and share good practice – more conceptually providing a vehicle for knowledge diffusion and a forum for interpersonal connectivity.
The main goals seem to be to facilitate connectivity, learning, and support of individual members’ work and needs.
Members seem to identify with the network and its aspirations, readily sharing their connections, resources and experiences. Community members share (and comment) on stories and anecdotes or ask for resources or advice. The contribution by members set a tone of safety, making it “ok” to show vulnerability and speak personally and boldly.
Although there is evidence of a leader, the group seems mainly self-organised.
The leader – and founder – of the group maintains a strong visible presence and acts as a role model, inspiring members. She is also the gatekeeper to grant membership to the group. She seems to understand how online convening serve to build cohesion, connectivity, collaboration and engagement. A core group of very experienced librarians can also be identified and seen to contribute to discussions and requests for help on a regular basis. These act as a secondary level of leaders, although it is possibly a natural extension, flowing from their experience rather than an intentional design factor.
The nature or a Facebook platform does not leave much freedom for design of the network and its interactions. One of the big disadvantages is that created knowledge remains difficult to “mine”. There seems to be an attempt to tag with #tags, but this is inconsistently modelled and only partly successful. This is a clear example where intentional design principles can improve the functionality of the network.
Pugh, K., & Prusak, L. (2013). Designing effective knowledge networks. MIT Sloan Management Review, 55(1), 79-88. Retrieved from http://niura.es/intranet/uploads/designing-effective-knowledge-networks.pdf