The Power Of Group Dynamics Online


This article celebrates the power of professional learning communities and looks at how relationships are built ​from the inside out.

We’ll see how it takes one person to start a movement, and we’ll discuss some principles of group dynamics  in wider social contexts. I’ll follow this up with another article on social dynamics in the classroom inspired by Zoltan Dornyei and Tim Murphey.

​ ​ I’m using multi-media examples from my own personal learning network to feature the power of group dynamics and inspiration online. ​ ​It all  begins with YOU and your ‘mindsight’.

What is mindsight? “Mindsight is the ability of the human mind to see itself. It is a powerful lens through which we can understand our inner lives with more clarity, transform the brain, and enhance our relationships with others.​” ​Daniel J. Siegal


This is about stories. We are the old stories we tell ourselves, we become the new stories we tell ourselves, ​and we transform the stories we tell ourselves by telling our stories to others.

What is a storyteller?

A poet, a musician, a teacher, a writer, a socially-connected human being, perhaps. ​ But really, a storyteller is simply one who paints a unique picture of humanity through self-expression and sharing.​ ​ ​There are no group dynamics without stories, no communities without stories. ​ ​Today I’ll talk about my personal learning network and share the story of a well-known musician and teacher so as to depict the power of group dynamics beginning with the individual.

Featuring Fluency MC  :

Fluency MC began his story as a teacher searching for a better way. His story was shaped by his background as a DJ, and interestingly, he studied psychology at university before changing direction and becoming an English language teacher. Jason’s love of teaching, music, self-expression and reaching out to others was soon to manifest itself on You Tube where he built up a massive following. At this stage he was performing, writing and rapping amazing English language lessons, but not yet engaging people on forums or text-based social media. For me, this represents the first stage in leveraging social intelligence. Jason first had to carve out his presence through knowing himself, applying himself and expressing the essence of his work.

What is work ?

Work is not 9-to-5 drudgery, boredom or paycheck blues. Nine to five drudgery is another word for mental and spiritual slavery. REAL work is creative play according to Vygotsky. Fluency MC was doing REAL work. He was telling his story. Yet, it was not enough. According to Vygotsky, true learning occurs in the zone of proximal development. The ‘Zone’ discovered and developed pedagogically by Vygotsky was a social learning playground where achievement depended on group dynamics and unfolding  potential within a free intellectual space where nothing was pre-determined. “The zone of proximal development defines functions that have not matured yet, but are in a process of maturing, that will mature tomorrow, that are currently in an embryonic state; these functions could be called the buds of development, the flowers of development, rather than the fruits of development, that is, what is only just maturing”


Facebook & Social Networks: When Jason started building up networks on facebook and met some other online pioneers, including myself, it really was as if we were all experimenting and developing, but we were not yet fully matured. Our communities grew and our collaborations became ever more frequent and ever more ambitious. We are still in this zone and still reaching out to others through telling our stories. We are still immature.

We are  listening:

Listening to the stories of teachers around the world through online professional development initiatives, collaborative movements, such as Shelly Terrell’s Edugoals, and across multiple social networks.

We are celebrating:

What I love about the power of personal learning networks and groups with just the right amount of tension between social cohesion and creative anarchy is the new reality of finding one’s voice and amplifiying one’s voice for the good of all. As a woman, I’ve seen this voice transform gender divides and prejudice. Today we are celebrating Shelly Terrell’s voice. Shelly  was awarded Woman of the Year by  Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women. To quote Christina Chorianopoulou on Facebook, “Congrats Shelly !Woman of the year and woman of our years – well deserved “

      We are tribal:  

We rebel against the ‘thingification’ of people: To paraphrase Martin Buber in his look at depersonalisation and the subsequent corrosion of the human spirit (Goleman social intelligence), we refuse to thingify or be thingified. The power of group dynamics lies in the energy to promote social progress through heightened rapport and social understanding.

We set the emotional tone together, not alone:


I am a quiet explorer, reader, writer and storyteller, yet I like to  experiment with group dynamics in social environments. Here is my slideshow on on group dynamics for the TTO



Brain-friendly Communities Online:

I’ve been so inspired by the amazing networks around me  that I’ve created a new page to take online education and group dynamics to new heights in connectivity. Check here for details & please join us:) Brain-friendly Communities online Associated Communities The Brain-friendly plan


I‘ll leave you with a quote from Daniel J Siegal and his neuro-biology of ‘we’:


Becoming advocates of one another: ” and as a ‘we’ is woven into the neurons of our mirroring brains, even our sense of self is illuminated by our connection.With internal awareness and empathy, self-empowerment and joining, differentiation and linkage, we create harmony within the resonating circuits of our social brains.”

Sylvia Guinan

is an online English teacher, writer and blogger who facilitates professional development online. She uses brain-friendly techniques to help students and teachers around the world. She designs educational materials, develops courses, writes resource papers and publishes ebooks. Her work is the result of much research into the psychology of learning, as well as hands-on experience with multi-media technology.