Facilitating online communities (week 1)

The tasks for week one include:

Post to your blog what you hope to get out of this course. Include any concerns or questions you may have.

My expectations

Here, I’m just a dabbler.  I enjoy meeting others online, and in fact find the stimulus of others in something like this is quite invigorating.  I will tinker along, probably making a post every couple of days.

Others are setting up blogs: I’ll try to post some comments.  No concerns or questions.  I know it has been a busy ride for some people.  I have some questions about facilitation and moderation and teaching as intersecting and diverging roles.  I think about this sometimes and posted last month.

For some it is just too distributed.

  1. Course outline and activities (On wikieducator)
  2. Discussion page (in the WE page as well)
  3. There is a course blog.
  4. And a Google Groups list.

This is the key thread on the list . . Newbies and Experts

The from the post that started it off:

Having had a very similar experience in a recent workshop I was a leading, I am am concerned. This group has the experts and novices of a mature community but not the advantage of the slow development of shared expertise that a mature community would build. We have all jumped in together on day 1 and started to make associations in the ways we know how to. Some of us know how well served we can be by the tools and are excited to share that. The difficult thing here is that some of us who are more expert with the technologies forget what it was like to be a novice/newbie.  Already three days here the predominant discussions include blogs (Blogger, WordPress, Edublogs), Pageflakes, Netvibes, iGoogle, del.icio.us, GoogleReader, RSS, OPML, Moodle, NING, subscriptions, tags etc etc etc. More expert members of the group have set up sites for the group like Google Reader and Diigo as other environments for the group to consider beyond the workshop Googlegroup, wiki and 24/7 meeting room.

I also note how readily the technology has  seduced the conversation. we are not talking about the kinds of communities we all belong to and the reasons we are interested in this course (yes I know that is our blog task – perhaps lost or buried in all the verbiage) – technical infrastructure is dominating the Google group discussion.

And a short quote from another post:

I am one of those lost ones and am encouraged by your post. I am lost not so much because of the ‘noise’ but because I am so busy with other face to  face activities I am currently involved in. <snip> I was wondering whether there are any guides as to when and how the Facilitator should come in and play those roles. Of course, as it is happening here, the community itself can take it up – unless of course most members are more on the ‘you sink or swim’ mindset.

Leigh has done a sort of a summary (on the blog and copied to the list)

So the question arises: where do you dip in?  The answer probably is your own blog and the blogs of others.

There have been a few comments about people feeling they may miss out.  My opinion: get rid of this worry, just face the fact you cannot keep up with 63 people.  Just go with the flow.

My questions are like this: in this kind of event (a course, workshop etc) How can we quickly establish a sense of group, togetherness and functionality sufficient to generate a learning trajectory for individuals as they wish and the group in general?

I differ from Leigh a bit: I like having a private home base, like a kitchen/dining room/snug from which to leap out.  Is this a compromise?  Yes, of course, for some, but does it really inhibit their learning?  For others, it provides a nice jumping off point for forays into free range learning.  With too much public too quick my experience is that we loose some quick.  A walled garden maybe.

In our Blogwatch events in the past we have taken things slower: read blogs, comment on blogs.  To go from nought to blog in 7 days is tough.  Leigh says in the blog: “It has been quite a week! The email forum has been going berserk with enthusiasm, confusion, chaos and insights” and in the wikiA week spent orientating yourself into the course, the commitment required, the assignments and what else is involved. For those new to this way of learning online, this week will seem daunting. Get through it and the rest of the course will flow for you nicely.”

Another question: What are people doing with their blended/online lives in so far as teaching and group activity (even community wannabe’s go) is concerned?  I work with lecturers mainly at a university.  How can we help them improve the quality of their online lives?

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