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As we try to create online communities focused on open learning we have to recognize the troubled history open source has had with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some bias is implicit due to systematic discrimination. You need to be well off to work for free.

Often though we have seen countless explicit attacks such as Gamergate or even death threats against those doing Open Source Intelligence work to fight right wing extremism online.Before you can even begin to create an online community focused on open learning you need trust.

For many we never engineered safety into the online communities we create and curate.

Systems Security Engineering Approach to Culture

Creating a Community as Your Curriculum (Cormier, 2008) takes a systems approach to engineering trustworthiness into the spaces you design. You can also think about your classroom culture, and the overall culture of your school as a system. in fact, our educational system is nested within this much larger system that many parents and students do not rightfully trust. By choosing a framework to develop an innovate and healthy online community you in turn reduce the threats to the members of your group that will do the learning work You also help build a better world.

Once a framework is chosen systems engineering requires a set of iterative steps.

  1. Collect baseline data
  2. Identify goal you will engineer
  3. Acknowledge and identify blockers and variables of interest
  4. Develop a solution to address the goal without negatively impacting other systems
  5. Monitor the progress. Evaluate variable of interest.
  6. Iterate on the process

When engineering for community we have to everyone recognize the cultural importance of safety. When trying to increase the overall hygiene of online communities you curate ,and thus engineer better trust in your system, you must first focus on the trust of potential and existing community members

Dr. Kimberly Young-McLear, who won the 2017 Captain Niels P. Thomsen Innovation Award Winner for “Cultural Change for leveraging social media for large-scale disaster response.: has created the framework for a healthy and innovative workplace.

Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is paramount to good community culture. Dr, Young-McLear defines psychological safety as, “a service culture where all members have the confidence to serve as their authentic selves where self-knowledge, initiative, creativity, and self-empowerment are rewarded in an environment of interpersonal risk-taking.”

The Internet has not always been a welcoming place as demonstrated in current news stories about harassment and stalking. Unrepresented populations need to feel safe in your community no matter their role. Online spaces improve when systematically marginalized groups of people share their perspectives and contribute to organizational solutions without fear of marginalization, retaliation, bullying, or discrimination. This can not happen without psychological safety.

The model Dr. Young-McLear created integrates survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and racism. Marginalized groups are often ignored or for reporting incidents of abuse. The Web reflects our reality. The internet has never been a safe place for all. We must all work to create a places, online and in person where everyone feels safe and valued. This will increase the trustworthiness you engineer into your online community.

Moral Courage

Engineering an innovative and healthy environment also requires moral courage. This means all community members must feel compelled toward action to intervene against any culture or practice that inhibits the safety of any of our members. member of your organization must report violations of laws, policies, or your company's mission, vision, and core values. Talk to potential members who have faced racism and discrimination in the past. Encourage a speak up culture.

Cultural Competencies

As you engineer an innovative and healthy workspace focus on growing key cultural competencies in your online communities

  1. Valuing diversity
  2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment
  3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
  4. Having institutionalized cultural knowledge
  5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity

Developing cultural competence systematically within a workforce requires subject-matter expertise and involvement by systemically marginalized groups. Over time as you grow your community may need to rely on experts in race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, education, and ob position. In terms of addressing the systemically marginalized in online learning can look at the language used, the discourse patterns of leaders, and do recruitment outside of 24 hackathon events


According to Dr. Young-McLear inclusion is “individuals perceiving acceptance within the organization, as well as the ability to bring unique contributions to the workplace. Once your organizers have done the hard work of building psychological safety, moral courage, and cultural competencies feelings of inclusion will increase.

We need more voices in for our online environments to thrive. We need communities explicitly inclusive to those who have faced trauma. Inclusion helps with both recruitment and retention. More importantly it makes your company safer. Research has shown diverse teams make better decisions.

Diversity and Equity

Diversity and equity share traits but have different impacts on the learning spaces you design. Diversity in the workplace means workers who are different from each other or come from different backgrounds. Diversity can involve constructs such as race, gender, age, etc. You need to think in terms of cultural, physical, and cognitive diversity.

Only when your online spaces invest in diversity and equity can we hope to improve efforts to recruit, retain and members from systematically marginalized groups into technology. Diversity work often involves doing personal work more than outreach. Do not ask marginalized communities to put in extra effort to help you overcome their oppression.

Mission Readiness and Innovation

Once the foundation of psychological safety, moral courage, cultural competence, and diversity and equity get engineered into your systems the overall mission readiness of your online space may improve. Then innovation will follow. No matter the focus of your online community when people feel safe and there is a healthy exchange of free ideas innovation thrives.

engineering_safe_and_healthy_innnovation_systems.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/11 13:41 by jgmac1106