Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social Networking platforms

I joined Ning and looked up Cooking networks. I found many networks but each network had only one or two members (not what I see as a network). In Ning each member can set up their own network so the result is many "networks" with a few members. Some "networks" were by invitation only (how do they expect to form a network if interested people cannot access the site).

This seems an inefficient method of trying to make contact with people who have similar interests to you. There should be only 1 or 2 networks with many members rather than 20 networks with 1 or 2 members.
These small networks could benefit by facilitation. An online Facilitator could explain the benefits of combining networks and offer to help set up one network which members of all these smaller networks could join & as a result communicate with people who have an interest in cooking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Evaluating Facilitation

Here are my thoughts on how I facilitated the session "The Role of a Facilitator" in the FOC Mini Conference last week.

I talked too much but was trying to convey my impressions of the person I was interviewing so the participants could get a better perception of the person and the process. When someone made comments on things the Community Facilitator said if I disagreed or interpreted differently I said so.

The discussion progressed well and some very interesting comments and thoughts were contributed. Many thanks to Nellie and friends & Leigh for their comments and at times lively discussion. I learned a lot & saw thing from different perspectives.

I encouraged participants to chat and elaborate on statements. I did not moderate the process or the content, and I believe this is part of being a successful online facilitator: let the discussion flow & it is amazing how it develops and diversifies.

Comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mini conference: The Role of a Facilitator Discussion

We had an interestiing discussion this morning(NZ time) wit Leigh, Nellie & several of Nellie's friends participating. Here is the link for the chat record.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Second Life

My experience in Second Life was short & I was a bit uncoordinated: my Avatar was unpredictable to say the least. The people I met there were all very helpful and friendly. It was interesting teleporting to the Online Therapy Institute. Although I was definitely a “newbie” I could see the development of communities and how useful these communities could be. Jo was very interesting explaining how some people liked the anonymity of Second Life when seeking therapy and how eventually therapy sessions would be held in Second Life.
A few years ago a visiting Educator from Australia gave a lecture & talked about Second Life as a teaching platform. I can’t remember the Teaching Institute he was from but I do remember him telling us about the Institute buying land in Second Life & using it for their students. The Hospitality students set up a project where they had to design a hotel: create the gardens, swimming pool etc, do the interior decorating etc. These students had to start from the beginning and carry the project through to an operating hotel. This was a great teaching tool & a wonderful experience for the students: they could make mistakes, but they were easy to correct & didn’t cost the employer anything.
These students had first-hand experience of what it was like to design and operate a hotel so they were well equipped to go out & do the same thing in real life.
This is a platform where people can learn whatever they want to, experience the real thing & perfect the design or task first hand, then when they go to the real world they are competent and confident.
I still have a lot to learn about Second Life but think it is a great learning platform & will be used more for education in the future.
I see facilitation in Second Life as a cooperative process where people get to know each other & what each person is interested in. Then if someone & wants to know something about a particular site or topic they would be directed to the person who knows about that topic.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Community Facilitator Interview

I have posted the interview with a Community Facilitator to blip .tv. Click Facilitator Interview to listen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Second Life names

My Second Life name is Gilly Muggins.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mini conference Proposal

I recorded an interview with a Community Facilitator.
For the mini conference I would like other FOC participants and anyone else who is interested to listen to the interview and then we will discuss if the interview has changed our perceived role of a facilitator, or if facilitation in the wider community has a different role to that in educational organisations.
This event will take approximately an hour and the venue will be skype,
discussion open to everyone.
Time 8am Thursday 6th November(NZ DST) 7pm Wednesday 5th November UTC

FOC as a blogging network

The Facilitating Online Communities course does connect to a wider network; people who are interested in facilitating online have contributed either through a blog or through the e-mail forum, or both. Many people are not enrolled in this course but contribute because they are interested.
This blogging network has a conscientious facilitator who is positive, very helpful and knowledgeable.

I have helped to develop this network by posting to my blog my ideas and thoughts about Facilitating Online and by reading resources and other people’s blogs, and commenting on other blogs.

A blogging network can grow very quickly; this could be an advantage to the Online Community because more people are contributing and members have different viewpoints so individual perspectives become more diverse. If the network grows too much it could be a disadvantage because one member cannot communicate with all other members so chooses to communicate with others who have similar viewpoints or interests. This could result in smaller groups with less diverse viewpoints, so the communication and learning would be limited.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


A blogosphere is a term used to describe all blogs which are grouped together under one “umbrella” as a blogging network (has many blogs and many contributors).

I read the Canadian blogosphere. The name indicates to me it would cover all things Canadian but was mainly political. Within the Canadian blogosphere were smaller groups of blogs based on political views, party affiliations & physical location for example Paul Martin's blog.

Blogs were used to both defend and attack politicians by journalists like Rick Mercer and others.

I suppose these could be classed as “satellite” blogging networks they have their own smaller groups but are still part of the larger blogosphere.

The largest “satellite” group was the “Blogging Tories” (link)which had 300 blogs & 3,000 readers.

A poll taken in 2005 stated that 42% of Canadians had read a blog in the previous 3 months. That figure, I think, would have doubled by now. Blogging networks are very popular and a convenient way to keep up-to-date with issues or topics you are interested in.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Questions for Community Facilitator

These are the questions I sent to the Community Facilitator before we had the interview:

What is the role of a facilitator?
What is the role of a moderator?
Do these roles overlap?
How important is setting up, planning, and researching for successful facilitation of a meeting?
If planning and researching have perhaps been done by someone else & all the required information is not available what affect does this have on facilitation of the meeting?
At any time does a facilitator teach?

The recorded interview will be edited and published on

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Online Forums

This Discussion forum is a google group and the topic is accounting. It is a public forum.

Identifying features of an Online Community

These are the features I was looking for in this online forum to see if it had developed into an Online Community:

Communication between all participants – this was not evident because there were so many posts about different aspects of the topic it was really hard to follow – no threads. The posts were listed chronologically which meant you had to sort through the complete list to find all posts relating to a specific aspect of accounting.
All members of the community are equal and share information and responsibilities – many posts had no comments, even those asking for help. There appeared to be very little interaction between group members. One person would post & leave it at that –no follow-up.
Community members give each other advice and help each other to solve problems – there was no evidence that this was happening in this group.
Willingness to give back and improve the community experience – this seemed to be a location to post any thoughts people had about accounting; most posts were unrelated & not commented on.
Willingness to explore new methods and technologies – people did explore new technologies but did not use links to show other people how to find these technologies.
Structure – there was no structure to the group.

Facilitation Services to help the group
The group needs some structure to bring the members closer together. A Facilitator could set up a series of synchronous sessions dealing with individual aspects of accounting: available free software, how to calculate your taxes, frequently asked questions, etc & ask the members who were knowledgeable in the specific topic if they would facilitate the session related to that topic. This would facilitate interaction within the group & as a result group members would get to know each other.
A group blog may also be used to encourage group members to help each other and learn from each other. This could be set up as an accounting blog overall but have separate blogs for the major aspects of accounting so if members wanted to know about software they could go to the software blog within the accounting blog. A facilitator could encourage follow up posts by making helpful comments to blog posts.
To help online forums generally I think the members need to encourage each other & provide constructive criticism. A facilitator could initiate this process. To function effectively an online group needs structure & I believe this structure is built up from the interaction of its members. As members get to know each other better they talk about different methods of doing things & come to a decision as to which method best suits the group.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Looking for Online Community

I have an interest in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Cern. My son is working in this field so I follow articles etc about this. I watched an interview on TV the other night: David Frost was interviewing Robert Aymar & David Frost was mostly interested in how much money had been spent. He asked what the public had got out of this research. Robert Aymar replied that a Scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee working at Cern invented the World Wide Web in 1990.
Creation of www enabled CERN Scientists to establish the first Online Community.

This Community was based on sharing data from the LHC. It is a huge Online Community today. I think this project involves thousands of people & over 500 universities (read that recently but can’t find the site right now).

I looked for a link to the interview but couldn’t find one.

I think Cern had a community but the communication was too slow to keep all Scientists involved in the project informed of recent data & discoveries. He created a means of transferring the data instantly. I think he was a great Facilitator: he saw the problem & created a solution for it. This solution has had an impact on millions of people.

This Community shares data around the world. All members participate & contribute to the Community. They help each other to learn. All members have something in common: the LHC.

Members share responsibility and information.

These Community Members explore and improve online technologies to make them fit their purpose.

Community members are Scientists who collaborate and are willing to give back to the Community.

Facilitating, Moderating and Teaching

I haven't had a chance to blog for the last week, have been busy with training etc. I thought Kay summed up Facilitator, Moderator & Teacher roles very well. I agree they do overlap & I think this is true when we look at the world outside education also: a facilitator may need to moderate a discussion which is getting off track. A Moderator may need to provide some information which is required in order for the group to make a fair and informed decision (this could be seen as Teaching).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Facilitating, Moderating or Teaching

I see facilitating as helping people to learn. In order to do this initially a facilitator may have to "teach" so the group members or students are familiar with the tools they need to use in order to accomplish the learning.
Moderation to me is ensuring the learning is relevant to the purpose of the group or course (learning is focussed on the topic). A Facilitator needs to moderate the learning if it starts to go off at a tangent. In this course we need to meet certain criteria to pass. The Facilitator (Leigh) must ensure we do meet these criteria and so needs to do some moderating if we are not sticking to the topic.
Teaching is often thought of as giving all the information to students or group members so they just need to absorb it. I think a Facilitator at times "teaches" in a limited way: gives the student enough information to find the answer or solve the problem themselves in their own way & using tools they have chosen.
To sum it up a Facilitator has to be a Moderator & a Teacher at times.

When does the act of teaching compromise the role of a facilitator of an online community?
I think teaching compromises the role of a Facilitator when it takes over from facilitating, when the facilitator directs the group members to do something using a specific method because this is the method the Facilitator uses. Teaching is about opinions. A teacher provides information the way he/she sees it: their point of view, there are no options.

Facilitating, Moderating and Teaching

Sorry I haven't been posting lately have been sick so not up to deep thinking (or any thinking actually). Sylvia thanks for the addition to my list, a very good point. Leigh my list mostly came from reading the e-mails & blogs & thinking about what we were doing & stages the group has gone through: introductions, exploring different tools & sharing ideas & solutions to problems. The Building Communities article was very interesting & helped with the list. . I watched this You tube video which was about technology and teaching:technology has changed our lives but has teaching kept up with technology? Also this video describes teh features of an Online Community well I think:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What makes an online group or network a community?

I think these features are important in assessing an online community:

Communication between all participants (some participants may not communicate much while others have a lot to say, this doesn’t mean the ones who do not communicate much are less important members of the community).

All members of the community are equal and share information and responsibilities.

All members of the community have something in common: this is why they are part of the community. In this course we all want to be better at facilitating online communities so we are practising our facilitating and learning new technologies to help us be great online facilitators.

Community members give each other advice and help each other to solve problems.

Online community members need to be willing to explore the online world and experiment with new technologies (the sharing of ideas and technology are the factors which make the online group a community).

A community does not appear instantly it takes time for members to get to know each other & converse and share thoughts and ideas freely.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hi Illya,
I agree by moving out of your comfort zone you do learn more, it presents a challenge, and we all need to be challenged. The security is that you have control which direction your learning will take and how far you will proceed. I guess knowing you are in control of these parameters gives you a degree of comfort about learning new things. I think if someone insists you learn this in a particular way it is easy to turn off & not learn at all because you are restricted & as a result there is no challenge.

Comfort zones and facilitating

Hi Nellie,
Great point.
I think we learn things which are outisde our comfort zone, but to be able to facilitate effectively we have to know something about the area we are facilitating in this is sort of expanding the comfort zone I think. Not sure if I have explained myself exactly but hope you get the point. To learn effectively you need to move outside your comfort zone, but to facilitate effectively you need to incorporate the learning so it is within your comfort zone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I think you are probably right about a teacher not being a facilitator but it is not just about the power relationships and content expert. I think it is the way teachers have learned to teach. It must be very hard to change to facilitating after years of teaching in front of a class, being the expert & having control over what the students are learning. I am a facilitator & a CLC is more learner friendly than a classroom because we do not have the power thing happening, also the atmosphere is more relaxed. We provide the resources and say "go for it, if you need help let me know". In this way the students can choose what they learn & how much about a certain topic they want to know.
I know I learn much more if I am pointed in the right direction & told go & find resources & follow the path you are most interested in.
Isn't this what we are doing on this course. Some of us want to know more about technical stuff but are OK with facilitating, others are interested in learning about the facilitating and are Ok with the technical stuff. Initially though I think we talk about things which are in our comfort zone, we comment on what we know but just read about the stuff we don't. Gradually as we get to know more about the things which were not familiar we will talk about them, our comfort zone expands if we want it to. Maybe teachers can't expand their zone into facilitating.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Community Learning Centre Staff

In response to your comment I think the Community Learning Centre Staff have become a team (or Community if you like) working together to achieve the same goals; within Otago Polytechnic's Vision.

We in Central Otago felt isolated from the Dunedin staff because we were managed by Central Otago Campus and did not have much interaction with Dunedin CLCs. All CLCs are now managed by one group and all CLC staff have regular meetings (usually by video conference) so we all know what is going on & what is expected of us.

Our Manager asks for input and advice. I think the CLC staff are starting to form a successful community ( it could be an online community as most of our contact is via e-mail, skype or video conference).

A Community does not happen instantly: it takes time to get to know the other people in the group & to respect their opinions, and learn about them: their likes and dislikes, their backgrounds. An important part of forming a Community is to be supportive of all members in the group & not be judgemental.

A Community is a group of people who get together initially because they have one common interest. As they get to know each other better they find other interests & become a group of friends: A Community.

Think about all the Communities we are part of & we probably don't even realise. All the people we know well in life are part of separate Communities we are members of: our families, our friends from school, work etc. After a while all the separate communities one person is part of become one Community with the common interest being that person initially.

Online Communities are no different: it is just the form of communication which is different.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Facilitating Online

I am studying another course at present (Constructing courses to Enhance Learning) and at the workshop I attended the other day we looked at some excellent examples of courses which were constructed to be as flexible as possible and user friendly for students who were not familiar with online study.
Contributions to the Discussion Board were amazing. Granted this was part of the assessment but I think after a while the students enjoyed contributing & reading the contributions of others. The Facilitator was very good: kept asking questions like what are your thoughts on this or do you think this is a reasonable statement or how would you change it. Students were divided into 3 groups & asked to write about a given topic (all different) & then they needed to comment on the contributions to the other topics. I thought this was a useful approach as although they only thoroughly researched 1 topic they learned something about all 3.
It is continuous communication which is the key to being a successful online Facilitator, perhaps not the method of communication.
I have participated in 2 online course so far. The 1st was great & I learned much more than I thought I would because the Facilitators were continuously suggesting resources or methods which could be useful. This motivated me to learn & I really enjoyed the learning.
The 2nd course was not so motivating as it was a face-to-face course which had been put online. There was not much communication & I just filled out the worksheets & submitted them. The course was not designed to maximise learning & I believe online courses should be: give the student an idea & let them do the learning themselves.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Making a Start

I am looking forward to studying Facilitating Online Communities as I think it will be useful both for facilitating online but also for facilitating in the Community Learning Centre (Alexandra) where I currently work.
Things I would like to gain from this course:
  1. Better facilitating skills.
  2. To improve my knowledge of online resources.
  3. To be able to use a range of online facilitating methods confidently.

I have facilitated online (mostly via skype but also in Discussion Boards). This course will help me to be better at facilitating online.