In this final posting for the FC09 course, I will be attempting to summarise my previous postings
Technology now allows like-minded people to group themselves on the internet and discuss their common interest(s) wherever their geographical location might be. The methods/tools employed are diverse and are constantly evolving. Communities are created using various support where participants are interacting with each other.
The art of facilitating can be compared to oiling the cogs in order for a meeting to work better. A facilitator does not get involved into the topic. He/she need to be able to show diplomacy and able to summarise the participants idea.
A moderator will ensure that a discussion, a meeting, posting in a discussion forum stay within pre-agreed boundaries.
A teacher will attempt to infuse ideas, knowledge and concepts into his student. The original idea of teaching is a one way transfer of knowledge, but more and more educators use a range of strategies including facilitating and moderating to help the students to gain the knowledge required.
A discussion forum allows for a fast interaction between participants. As they can easily get impulsive, discussions can get out of hand and discussion forum need a moderator. As found by interviewing moderators on a discussion group, there is always a time when it is necessary for the moderator to step in.
Blogs are very useful for in depth reflection. Communities of blogs are created when a group of people with a common interest cross reference their posting with each other's blogs, comment on each other's blog. It hasn't got the immediacy of a discussion forum, but still allows replies to postings and therefore dialogue is taking place.
The wiki interface is really interesting to support a course; all the information are grouped in a central location and the participants are able to comment, discuss, and edit the content. The only draw back is that the interface is not yet as user friendly for editing as for other interacting medium.
One of my biggest regrets on the course is to have missed Sarah's guided visit of an area of second life dedicated to learning. I have visited several areas, but the interaction was missing and I have yet to realise what the full potential use of second life in an educational concept might be. From what I could gather, it must be the most demanding media to use in term of skills for the educators. The results probably match the effort required to interact.
In First Life it would be difficult for an educational establishment to make extensive use of this type of support, as the bandwidth per user requirements are demanding.
The Keynote address from Dr Scott Diener at Ascilite 09 got me thinking again about the potential of virtual worlds. The examples he gave to the audience challenged my beliefs and I will certainly look again at that support in the near future.
I can see the potential of the social learning platform, but not in my present work. I still consider them as dangerous if used by careless users. From what I have been observing of my students, they are not by in large into practising "safe web", even after explaining the potential dangers at the beginning of my network security course.
May be staying apart from the main SNS would make it safer, as the smaller player in the domain do not seem to be as targeted by the "baddies". I enjoyed the discussion in Ning, set up by Debra. However I still think that we can have similar functions in Google group or Yahoo group.
Reflecting on the different kinds of online communities.
Different kind of online communities are using different platforms for different purposes. They acquires an identity over time, based on the personality of the facilitator or moderator and the most frequent participants.
The type of platform used will vary according to the purpose the group is trying to achieve.
Online communities allows people to get to know each other from the inside out in contrast from the outside in. (Thanks to John Barnett I met today for the analogy). This explains why to physically meet someone in the flesh after working with them on line feels rather different.
The event I facilitated was a challenge in term of having to find a speaker. It did not quite go according to plans due to some technical problems either. Sarah makes it look so easy! The secret is probably to do it frequently using a platform you are familiar with and at first with guests you know well.
They were so many interesting events taking place. The only problem was to be able to find the time to fit them in. It was interesting to see that most of the problems we encountered as a group were linked to to technical issues. This is probably because we were not too familiar with the platforms we were using and the type of situation encountered. There is only so much preparation you can do, and nothing replaces experience.
As you have probably already noticed, there are discrepancies between my previous postings and the summary from today. I have done further reading and thinking about the various topics approached this semester and it is still a work in progress. I suspect it will be the case for a long time. I am still half way through… Twitter for dummies, borrowed from my local library.
Congratulations to Rachel for being nominated for the 2009 Edublog Awards.
It was nice to be able to meet with Krishan and Rosceli last week (I missed Meena by 10 minutes). Although we have the same employer, we are working on different sites.
I have discovered the full potential of MS Office One notes, a powerful "workpad" which has allowed me to keep a record of my thoughts and notes on all the topics throughout this course.I would prefer to use an Open source software, but could not find what I exactly needed. Let me know if there is one I have missed!
Feed back on the course
This course was thoroughly enjoyable, challenging in term of content and workload, and never boring. It has already influenced the way I work and I have started to experiment this semester with my students. This was not necessarily about concepts new to me, but ideas which I had toyed with in my mind in the past but I never implemented. I have also started this semester a Personal Learning Network. As probably for other participants, I did find it difficult to stay on top of the work at time due to a heavy workload. I kept on lurking on most blogs but did not always find the time to post answers. I did find all the mini conference events I was able to attend interesting in term of content and management. As they were all recorded, I am still catching up with them.
To my surprise I did find it difficult to participate into the web conferencing sessions and often found myself in the position of a lurker. English is my third language but this does not usually stop me from participating in F2F situations (essential for my job!). It has to be something about the lack of visual clues. Who fancy studying this as a research topic?
The course facilitator did a great job, and I would certainly recommend this course to colleagues. I will try to keep an eye on what will happen on FoC10.