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 blip.tv

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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Tim_Berners-Lee
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. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/10/21/community.html . I watched this You tube video which was about technology and teaching:technology has changed our lives but has teaching kept up with technology? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suWzpLmRH0g&feature=related. Also this video describes teh features of an Online Community well I think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a32eDsxDfjY&feature=related