Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

by Colleen Grandy -
Number of replies: 4


We chose to share Situated Introductions using the Glossary tool in Moodle as our community-building, introductory activity. 

This activity did not emerge instantly. First, we discussed mapping out our connections and using a super-cool mapping tool to visualize it all. After putting in a few hours exploring tools, we realized we couldn’t find a tool that didn’t make the activity feel it was more about learning the cool tool than about building the community.

Then, after a good chat about “why do we build community in courses?” and “what are we really hoping happens?” and a conversation with a colleague,* we finally settled on trying situated introductions.

Why “situated”?

Indigenous authors Melanie Lefebvre and Alicia Elliott describe situating yourself as answering the questions: ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘Who claims you?’ These questions “acknowledge the importance of community. The answers situate each of us within the extensive kinship networks inside our communities – networks that provide support, ceremony, and tradition” (Lefebvre & Elliot, 2017, p. 8-9).  

Situating yourself is also means “revealing our identity to others; who we are, where we come from, our experiences that have shaped those things, and our intentions for the work we plan to do” (Sinclair, 2003, p. 122) as well as “[o]pening yourself to the truth that you don’t have access to every experience” (Wunker, 2016, p. 30).

Yes. This is what we hoped to do!

Our intention

Our hope was to use the glossary as “quiet” place to situate ourselves. The glossary does not email notifications (like a discussion forum) and posts can be modified at any time. We hoped the comments under the glossary would become a space for quieter connections.

We added “tags” along with the situated stories to offer another way to make connections. The Moodle “Tag Block” provides a visual on the course main page that highlights points of intersection and separation (see “morning person” and “not a morning person”!). Our intention was to see if these points spark open conversations or quietly reveal community.

Questions and Challenges

How long is that tag cloud going to get?

How much should we facilitate conversation in the glossary?

Will people read each other’s glossary entries without being prompted by notifications? Will people go back to the glossary and re-situate and then will people return to read without being notified of changes? Does it matter if they don't?

Are the tags too “surface” to feel like people can build community through them?

How will we know if it’s working?

* Note: The conversation was with Polly Madsen at Yukon College. She pooled many of the resources about situating and she facilitates situated introductions beautifully in face-to-face gatherings. Thank you, Polly!

In reply to Colleen Grandy

Re: Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

by Leonne Beebe -

Colleen, Gina and Sylvia,

I liked this intro approach as we got to go from big to small to course in one activity, and we each completed it as our tech skills allowed us to.  This is a nice change from the standard "Introduce yourself and reply to 3 others.

It took me a while to realize the tag cloud you were talking about is in fact the blue words on the main page.

Thank for this idea.


In reply to Leonne Beebe

Re: Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

by Gina Bennett -

Thanks for the feedback, Leonne.

What do you think about the tag cloud appearing on the home page? I find it kind of fun to click on tag words & see who tagged them. But we wondered if this might make the home page too "busy." 

What do you think about the Situating Ourselves block appearing on the right side of the home page? Do you think it helps or hinders the community feel?

In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

by Beth Cougler Blom -

Hi Gina,

I didn't love the tag cloud at first. I thought it did make the home page a bit cluttery-looking. But it wasn't a big deal. For most of the week I forgot about it, to be honest. It was fun to look back yesterday though at it. It was interesting when you recapped - I think on Wednesday - what some of the biggest tags were. So your drawing my attention to it helped, as I was breezing past it. I vote for keeping it!

Again, truthfully, I never noticed the Situating Ourselves block on the right hand side of the home page.

I realize, as I am describing all this, that because I'm subscribed to all the forums, I've been mostly clicking on the 'see this post in context' links in the forum post emails, and then going right to that post or forum to read...and missing the home page altogether. So an interesting question arises from do students access the course and what will they miss if they usually don't even see the home page?


In reply to Beth Cougler Blom

Re: Colleen, Gina, and Sylvia: Situated Introductions

by Colleen Grandy -

Thank you for this feedback! We didn't add the "Situating Block" until Wednesday, so it makes sense if you didn't notice it. It was a bit of an experiment - I had never tried the "random glossary" block before and I was curious to see what it looked like. We hoped it might humanize the main page a bit, but of course - many people never go there! Good point. 

I also wondered about expanding the situating activity over a longer course and asking new situating questions throughout the term? I also thought it could be interesting to invite people to re-situate themselves "in the course" or "in the day" a few times during the term. It might become a sort-of communal journal-blog-ish-thing. At the end of the term it might be fun to use to reflect back on everyone's journeys/connections. The tags could continue or fizzle. 

I'm still not sure about the glossary. Part of me likes that it doesn't send notifications (cuts down on the volume of them, at least - which students often complain about) and there is no participation requirement, so it's ok if something goes unnoticed for a while, but for folks who never go to the course page, they may never see it. Maybe reminders, like Sylvia's about the tags, would help? Or maybe a different tool. Lots to think about!