I've been slowly tinkering on the Learning Communities concept, playing with the idea and starting small by facilitating a "blogging and student publishing" group. Today, I opened it up pretty wide, sending an email to over 2200 faculty members to invite them to identify topics that would interest them for potential learning community gatherings.
I expected to have to explain what I was intending, to describe what I mean by "learning community" and to reinforce that the groups are completely about faculty (and grad student, and staff) contributions, rather than The Official Presentation From the TLC. This is a faculty thing, inquiry in action. I'm just there to facilitate and provide caffeine and carbs (and whiteboard and any other support is needed to keep the discussions moving).
I've had phone calls in response, every one of which along the lines of "that's great! you're really asking US what's important! and have I got some ideas!" - there's been enthusiasm, eagerness, and excitement.
I posted a poll to help gather priorities about the various topics I brainstormed (as well as encouraging people to suggest other topics by posting comments, or to indicate that the whole thing is just silly). And pretty quickly the votes started rolling in.
I was a bit sneaky in how I managed the invitation for participation - I used it to quietly announce UCalgaryBlogs.ca since the poll was hosted on a blog there. Already, a prof has set up a blog to use with her class, and others are telling me they'll be checking the service out. Very cool stuff.
This has been one of the better days. Do the right thing, don't ask permission, and run with it.