Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Final posting for FC09

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.

Blog networks (second posting here)
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.

Wiki collaborators
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.
The course is not completely over for me as I am intending to look and comments on the final posting of other participants, and to attend Debra's mini conference event on Thursday.


  1. herve
    it has been a very reassuring experience to have you in this group. You present as so aware and informed. I am not surprised that you are also open to new experiences and learning. I'm curious about the "lurking" or what I would call "legitimate peripheral participation" as I find your blog comments very focussed and forthright.
    Go well.

  2. Hi Herve

    Did not know I had been nominated until I read your blog! Thanks for that - will await the voting process! It has been a good experience and even 'lurking' is good or as Willie says "legitimate peripheral participation". Go well.

  3. Hello Herve

    I want to thank you for your contributions to this course. I agree that lurking is a legitimate activity but I didn't get a sense of who you were until you started to 'talk'. You challenged me to think, which I enjoyed and appreciated. I also really appreciated the way you supported the others on the course - thank you so much.

    I am very jealous that you went to ascilite and saw Scot Dernier. I hope to work with himn some day - I have an idea of two about SL I want to put to him...when I get around to it :) Any time you want me to take you around the virtual birth unit, just give me a shout.

    It has been fascinating to watch your learning journey, and as I keep saying, this course is just the beginning.

    Have a fabulous Christmas break! Sarah

  4. I was just lucky it was in Auckland Sarah!
    Thanks you for your kind comment Willie. I will remember "legitimate peripheral participation".
    Great experience to have been on the course with so many interesting other participants.

    Happy new year to everyone.