Before the start of the learning community project I did at the Rotterdam University for Applied Sciences, Elmine and me did a workshop on web2.0 and networked learning (connectivism) for a number of people. Most of these were group managers in their faculties, and as it turned out the managers of some of the participants of the project. This workshop was, in hind-sight, important because of that: it made sure that the managers of at least some of our participants knew from personal hands on experience more or less what the project was about. And indeed it helped make sure that the results of the participants was more easily integrated in their immediate circle of colleagues. One of the participants in that workshop (Sander Schenk) kept on experimenting with different web2.0 tools on his own. Over the course of several months I saw him pop up in different on-line services and networks. A bit over a year ago it was him that created the first Yammer account within the organisation.

For those of you unfamiliar with Yammer. Yammer basically offers the same functionality as Twitter, but only those people and messages are visible that share the same e-mail domain with you. So everybody at can see eachother, but nobody else. Added to that is group functionality and drawing organisational relationships between people. In short it is an internal Twitter, but lives outside you firewall.

Last week we received the graphs you see on the left from the Yammer team. It depicts nicely how the adoption of Yammer within Rotterdam University evolved. Starting in November 2008, the number of registered accounts rose to just under 200 in a year. The plateau in July/August in all three graphs is the summer holiday (but there was still some activity), and activity rises as soon as the new school year started, especially the number of accounts.
Of those 200 people that created accounts, some 130 posted one or more messages. The total number of messages is around 5500, or on average 42 postings per active user.

In comparison the learning community, with 12 people active, wrote some 7000 messages over the course of a year in their platform. This gives you some perspective on the different layers of involvement you always see in groups, from active core to non-posting lurkers. (though the learning community and the yammer group aren’t connected per se, the members of the former were generally also part of the latter) sent us these graphs as a means to sell paid for services. However I think this type of information (and more detailed than this) is increasingly important if you want to understand the group dynamics of the communities you’re involved in. In networked environments where social connections are the means of navigation and information filtering you need pattern information to spot opportunities and threats to the health of the community.
(to the left, graphs for total number of posters, number of users, and number of messages)