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.