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Christopher's research proposal for Webheads in Action COP

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  • Vance Stevens
    Chris et al, Off the top of my head, this sounds like a fine idea to me. As you say, it works in well with the colloquium we are mounting and would bring you
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 17, 2002
      Chris et al,

      Off the top of my head, this sounds like a fine idea to me. As you say,
      it works in well with the colloquium we are mounting and would bring you
      into that process, the the great benefit of all concerned. We welcome
      research on our community and our community has always welcomed
      researchers, esp. if it is action research that feeds back into the

      I had a look at your bibliography dedicated to Webheads and very much
      appreciate that you have highlighted a number of items for us. Me
      personally out here in Abu Dhabi, I was a little disappointed to see
      that none of these appear to be available online. Library resources
      here are fairly minimal. Perhaps we can find a solution. Meanwhile
      I've started an online bibliography of my own on the COP page (Sus, your
      work is online isn't it?). This is not to suggest that you should have
      included online resources, only that this is the reality for me where I
      am at present. My reaction to adversity is in any event to start
      working on a solution.

      A far as I am concerned, please proceed with your research plans. Great
      that you find us worthy of study.


      Subject: CoP proposal
      Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 12:27:07 +0200
      From: Christopher Johnson <christopher.johnson@...>
      To: Vance Stevens <vstevens@...>, "Dr. John. H.
      Steele" <j_steele@...>,
      Susanne Nyrop <s.nyrop@...>, Teresa Almeida d'Eca
      <tmvaz@...>, Dafne <dygonza@...>

      Hi Sus, Daf, Tere, John, and Vance,

      I am writing to you all off-forum because I wanted to let you in on
      something I have been thinking about and something I would like to
      propose for Webheads.

      As you all know, I have been doing dissertation research on CoPs,
      actually for the last two years. My original idea was to found a CoP for

      English for Professional Purposes professionals. Finding interested
      stakeholders has been slow and less than rewarding. Also, the stages of
      CoP formation are impossible to predict because they vary so much. These

      past months have caused me to focus on Webheads, and one main reason is
      your interest in communities of practice.

      My biggest concerns here are Sus and Vance because I don't want to
      inadvertently step on anyone's toes. Sus does research on communities of

      practice (CoPs), and I would like to make sure that anything I do in
      this area does not interfere with her research, rather work in a way
      that it would complement her research. I finally read one of her
      articles last night ("Cooperative Cultures in Sociotechnical
      Communities"), and I am adding it to the Webheads reading list in my
      bibliography (finally). It seems to me my dissertation is branching off
      in a different direction than her research, but again, I hope we can
      talk about any overlap. In Vance's case, I think we would agree he is
      the driving force behind this community -- not only the cat herder -- I
      would also say the main gardener. CoPs are organic, dynamic, and grow. I

      could imagine Vance thinking that a study in this respect is like taking

      something alive -- then killing it, pickling it, and tearing it apart
      bit by bit. I would do my upmost not to present it this way, rather as

      Because Webheads is in a more advance stage of CoP development than my
      original idea, I thought a case study on Webheads comparing their
      activities with CoP theory would be useful for me as doctoral student
      (trying to become "doctor"), and I would be more than happy to share my
      findings with Webheads as recommendations, or simply findings - for
      your information.

      I have looked over John's dissertation a few times, and my study would
      go off in a different direction. It would focus on the WIA group (i.e,
      the teachers), as opposed to the writing group (although the two
      boundaries are blurred -- a characteristic of CoPs, by the way). The
      study would address these basic questions: In what ways does WIA
      correspond to a CoP and in what ways does it depart from the CoP model?
      What stage of CoP development is WIA in? There will be more research
      questions (or rival hypotheses in case study lingo) that go into more
      detail. I'm working on these right now. Off the top of my head, there
      are probably several ways Webheads correspond to a CoP model, and some
      ways it departs from the model. Luckily, no one is going to give me a
      Ph.D. for saying something off the top of my head, rather through
      careful data analysis and steps to make the analysis as objective as

      I would gather data for a specified amount of time analyzing
      communication, as well as interviews and surveys with the members. I
      have also found a quantitative instrument for measuring "community", and

      I am looking it over for its feasibilty as one (not the only) form of
      analysis. The time frame of the study is something I need to hammer out
      with my dissertation committee.

      I think the nice thing about this is that this study would coincide with

      the timing of your CoP presentation early next year. It would cause me
      to become quite involved with Webheads in this respect, and I think this

      work would aid you for the conference.

      I have already discussed this with my dissertation advisor, and she
      thinks it is a good direction to go. I would be very interested in your
      honest feedback and thoughts as well. We already have a Dr. Cat in
      Webheading, and maybe it would be cool to have a Dr. Community or
      Facilator....or something like that.

      Vance, if you think this should go into the forum, please go ahead and
      post it.

      Looking forward to your thoughts and opinions.


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