This isn't something new; the best way to learn is from and amongst others. John Seely Brown gets it right when he talks about 'learning from the periphery'. Think how in the playground or when joining a club where there may be no formal induction or training, how you gravitate towards the centre over time as you listen in to conversations, get the drift of what is being said, get up the courage to ask questions (which is hopefully encouraged), and in time gain knowledge and confidence to offer your own unique take and things. In time you gravitate towards the centre; you may even become the centre. the 'leader' or part of the 'leadership' those wise folk at the centre of things.
I recall this as an undergraduate on campus, an outsider for a year, at the centre for a year and then worrying about Finals.
This is exciting. It brings the hubbub of the eclectic learning community online. This is more than a forum, it is a virtual learning space.
It will take all kinds of participants for it to work otherwise it is like one of those South American Pipe Dreams to build cities from scratch in the Amazon Jungle. It is the people and their ideas, thoughts, knowledge and participation that will bring it to life. It will require moderators, and leaders, and champions, and people to listen and guide and share. It will require moderators:
'The essential role of the e-moderator is promoting human interaction and communication through the modelling, conveying and building of knowledge and skills'. (Salmon, 2005:4)
And a new take on things:
'Online learning calls for the training and development of new kinds of online teachers - to carry out roles not yet widely understood'. (Salmon. 2005:10)