Thursday, August 27, 2009


I am looking at the mini conference information.
Has anyone used any of the tools mentionned in the list? It would be good to have some feedback about the "usability" and performance of each.
I don't think I will have the the time to test them all!

Week 3? 4?

I am already loosing track...

In the posting dated 17th August, Sarah mentioned the confusion between the role of facilitator, moderator and teacher.

What is the difference between the 3 roles? I have been using several resources in an attempt to define this roles.

Dictionnaire Larousse

Oxford dictionary



The role of the facilitator is in a discussion is

  • to help to bring about an outcome by using or providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.
  • assists in the management of an exchange of ideas, information, and opinions.
  • A neutral person who makes progress easier
  • Expected to offer guidance along the way to making decisions rather than provide expertise on a particular subject relevant to the decisions.

Skills required by a facilitator:


-to be able to gain the trust of the participants

-identify and able to summarise the participant's ideas

-keeping a neutral position


The moderator will let a discussion take place and will only intervene

  1. to iron the excesses out
  2. To enforce the rules of the discussion

There is more an idea of mediating and arbitrating. There is a confusion with the role of facilitator in some of the definition found.

Skills required by a moderator:

-perfect knowledge of the rule of the discussion.



The idea is there to instruct, to impart and inculcate knowledge as you would fill a bucket. A teacher must be an expert in his field. The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing.

Skills required by a teacher:

    -Technical expertise



An online community will need a moderator, and a meeting would benefit from a facilitator.

So should we teach, facilitate or moderate?

The role of an educator varies in between these 3 poles. I have been fortunate enough to teach a range of subject across intermediate, secondary and tertiary education. The techniques used to educate vary and are influenced by the context, subject, topic and public. The personality of the educator will make him/her prefer a technique instead of another.

Modern teaching methods would make an appropriate use of moderation and facilitation.

  • The role of a teacher undermining the role of a facilitator when the teacher is trying to impose his/her views on a group.

  • I cannot think of a situation when the role of a facilitator undermine the role of a teacher or moderator .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Week 2 (Part 2)

I am working my way through the work, and trying to identify what there is to do on the course. I have been listening to the recording of the online session. It is difficult to keep a sense of community when you have individual posting scattered on blogs. It will be much easier to use an online group (Yahoo group? Google groups?). This would allow to share information much more easily with other course participants . This could act as a central meeting point. May be I am missing something.

Just another thought about when a group becomes a community. Isn't it that a group becomes a community once participants are starting to know each other better, leading to changes in the group dynamic?

I am a bit confused now. I thought that I was already late on the schedule, but I came to give feed back to other participants, I have noticed that I seem to be ahead… Strange. I am not used to that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Week 2

What is a community? The first words that spring to my mind are similarities, common interests and values.

As could be seen in the fascinating video from Michael Welsh An anthropological introduction to YouTube , the on line communities also allow to break social conventions and rules of acceptable behaviour which can be redefined through the online media. This allows for communities to be created between people who are not likely to have ever met, disregarding borders and even languages.

Tools that allows people to access material of common interest are all very new and are constantly evolving.

The anonymity of performing in front of a web cam allows people to be themselves and relax without the fear of "the others" and of social boundaries.

Why is this happening? There seem to be to a sense of loss of communities. It is in the human nature to need to feel as part of a genuine group not created artificially by the society such as work, school, university…As Mark Pesce mentioned in This, That and the Other "We are human to the degree we are in relationship with our peers."

However as for everything else, people are learning to manipulate the system for various reasons.

According to Stephen Downes , in Groups and Networks groups are different than network. Networks are without walls/boundaries and their membership is very fluid. According to Stephen, the flow of information in a network is multidirectional instead of unidirectional as it tends to happen in groups. It might be better to use networks in eLearning instead of groups, as it seemed to have been happening at the time when the video was made in 2006. However the technology which allows networks to function is a lot more common in 2009. However Stephen's view of sharing knowledge freely to anyone is idealistic and I cannot imagine a time when my employer would allow me to teach a course for free via eLearning. It is not as he mentions "the rich getting richer and the poor poorer" but the reality of an educational establishment trying to generate enough income to be able to pay its employees.

Mark Pesce explains that the maximum size for a community is 150, after which the group can be described as a mob. This is due to the present limits of the human mind not being able to handle more information. The internet is changing very fast the way we learn and Mark thinks that the institutions not able to adapt to the changes will disappear.

Building Online Communities feels like an instruction manual on how to run an online community such as a Blog. It is full of good ideas and suggestions. I have bookmarked it and will get back to it when I can find some time.


To follow/subscribe to blog or web pages which do not support RSS, why not using the Firefox browser fitted with the Update scanner plug-in? This is easy to use and very useful.