Enjoying meeting a lot of new people and I am very hungry.
THat is all for now
I was supposed to be in Samoa of this week to take a WikiEducator workshop. Unfortunately I was missing one vital piece of information: I need to have more than six months left on my passport to be able to go to board the plane. I only found out this when I arrived at the airport. The workshop has been aborted.
However it has been an interesting process.
The workshops involve developing some skills in using media wiki and going on to produce an OER resource which will be available under a Creative Commons license. I was only asked to do the workshop at the last moment.
OER: Open educational resources. In brief: Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve and redistribute. From Wikipedia.
Question One: In considering the workshop the first question I had to ask myself was do I know enough about media wiki? “I think so: was the answer.
Question Two: The second question was my attitude and qualification to be involved in anything with open educational resources (OER). For a number of years I have been involved on the periphery and the question was: How genuinely committed am I? until today I didn;t even have an OER tag here,
At the time there was an intense debate going on in the wiki educator Google group. This had to do was issues around collaboration, ownership, central control in terms of standards versus uses determining their own standards etc. It seems that any decision to quote “open things up” always has unintended consequences to close something else down. Example if you require all materials to be created and free and open source tools such as Openoffice, but then means some people who are forced to use Microsoft office have to then learn and become familiar with a new platform. For some this will be a big enough barrier.
I spent a little time reflecting on this question, and decided “Yes, I am committeed”.
The Cape Town Open Education Declaration: www.capetowndeclaration.org/ The first bit says:
We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.
This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective.
www.repository.ac.nz/ A link to a few Moodle sites. They say: Project Goals and the Challenges of Modular Course Design – The first objective of the NZ OER project is to develop some ‘proof of concept’ courseware that is freely available to all tertiary education institutions in New Zealand. Underpinning this objective were our goals to increase the quality of eLearning materials, increase flexibility in their re-use and significantly reduce the duplication of investment in their design, development and production. The license used was the Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 therefore the content is actually free to all. Note that this project is planning to develop a New Zealand version of the Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
This illustrates some of the joys and perils of OER. Spin offs. local inititives, re-inventing the wheel. Both a strength and a potential weakness.
www.oercommons.org/about: About OER Commons: OER Commons is the first comprehensive open learning network where teachers and professors (from pre-K to graduate school) can access their colleagues’ course materials, share their own, and collaborate on affecting today’s classrooms. It uses Web 2.0 features (tags, ratings, comments, reviews, and social networking) to create an online experience that engages educators in sharing their best teaching and learning practices.
The emergence of OER signals the growing trend toward openness for teaching and learning materials.
The mission of OER Commons is to expand educational opportunities by increasing access to high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER), and facilitating the creation, use, and re-use of OER, for instructors, students, and self-learners.
Again supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
But if you visit Merlot, you will find a labyrinthe of ideas and resources, very difficult to find, all sorts of odd useage arrangements and the issues of quality, metadata emerge,
We can mistake a clear view of an objective for “easy to reach”. Here is a libnk to the wikieducator Google groups thread, which shows the good, the bad and the ugly all in one place, and illustrates that we can work togewther even if we disagree, and that there is (at least ibn my opinion) real hope in the range of OER futures.
Another not an FOC08 post. But I did see Leigh last week (at the Beach in Dunedin) and at the DEANZ conference in Wellington.
I’d have liked to do another full on workshop here on the bounded community & community issues, but there was not time and I was too late to see about negotiating this.
I am doing a 50 minute session: High Schools and Intranets.
I’d love it if the two schools my kids go to were to get a little bit more real online. There is still no posting of assignments, timetables for things, sign up forms or anything. Mark has had (like my other two sons before him) to set up his own learning ecology. What do you do if it is 8.45am the night before an assignment is due and you want to do it – but where is the sheet, and it is not online? What do you do if you forget the due date? etc.
There are two answers to this.
1. Support from the school. My session today will build on the talks I gave in Wellingon and Auckland in 2005. How can a school set up an easy to manage, nurturing online presence to help with communication, interaction, teaching and learning?
Getting the platform is a doddle. It’s the user transition to some new habits of mind that is not. To think ahead: what needs to go onlne to make our jobs easy? To improve outcomes? To save time?
One nice school site: www.papanui.school.nz/ I don’t know what it is like BEHIND the scenes.
2. Do it ourself. Given nothing, MSN a friend, get them to scan the assignment sheet (since the school does not make it awailable electronically) and have it passed down the wire.
This is the really simple and basic stuff.
Today I got rid of 400 or so folders, organised a GIG of files and proceeded one more step along the road to having my files sorted, which at the moment are over 40 GIG, down from 100. I discovered an old report I wrote on my first serious online workshop, written in week 2-3 of the 6 weeks. Quotes/extracts follow and with some reflections in Green.
I had two goals in taking part in this workshop. Besides finding out more about (stuff) from the content and ideas, I was also interested in an immersion experience, and to find out much more about myself in the online environment.
There is quite a comprehensive document that describes the structure of the workshop, but in actual fact much more unfolded as the weeks progress(ed).
In actual fact: nothing in mere written form could have prepared me for the roller coaster ride to come – and some of what was there, I didn’t believe.
The first week, was in typical Gilly Salmon stage one mode, – icebreaking, when we played an absolutely marvellous game which I won’t spoil by commenting on.
I’ve since come to collect ideas for icebreakers. The best ones actually work even if you have ‘done them’ before, and help stretch while getting used to the toys we play with.
I was absolutely astounded by how quickly I found a sense of comradeship and online connection emerging.
(Facilitator) has these little phrases, many of them metaphoric which he uses at times, not so much to answer questions, but to help shape the discussion.
Metaphor is powerful online.
Shaping is a considered term here: not firect, not close off . . .
The second week, we were put into two groups, where basically we were to share ideas, theories and information about being on line.
I was assigned the group. I often wondered if I was placed intentionally by some deeply thoughtful process, randomly assigned or just matched up on some basis like timezone.
We could visit thje other group, but not post.
But people commented in their group on posts made in the other group.
Like a couple of group blogs really.
(Facilitator) was responsible for this, and he heavily fascilitated, but again with a quite remarkable tone and voice to his posts.
I later discovered the ideas of voice, and our online persona in some of the literature.
What have I learned -
(snip – bits removed here . . . ) Another aspect that has probably been my third significant transcendent experience, has been a growing awareness of the power of story. The richness of even a few paragraphs of description, has contributed a lot to the whole tone of this workshop.
Absolutely critical. Along with metaphor, images and poetry. But within limits. Insights from a case study of one need to be carefully filtered. “I used Flickr and it was crap” Determining a form of truth from experience is to be treated carefully.
But somehow story unlocks.
Another thing that has interested me is how much it has affected me emotionally.
The keenness to get online, the anxious wait for a response to my post, my question or my suggestion. . .
I also had three seriously rugged experieinces in this workshop, and I cringed for months when I recalled these. Even the best faciltiation and good structure could not prevent this.
Resilience is needed online at times.
THAT’S IT -I think I had a second report from later, but it is unfindable at the moment.
I’m a little tired. Two nights out with the kids, Music with Mark at Burnside High School (where we made over $90 in the 15 minute interval selling drink and chips) and Drama/dance with Anna. I was so tired last night I probablyu could have fallen asleep. And my wrists are playing up a little. But I did drift away in my thoughts last night and decided I do have a little to say about community.
The homework for this week: «Write a post to your blog with your thoughts about the meaning of an online community and its uses. Include a list of identifying features that YOU would look for when assessing an online group or network for features which make it a community»
Community is about people. With a cause. [eg Educational designer, Clinicalhealth education, Media studies teachers, Non-hodgekinsone lymphona sufferers, waste water engineers] Dare I say some passion and care. Care for the cause and for other people. They need some level of shared experience, history, trust and/or understanding.
Here it immmediatley becomes complex. Poor understanding can be balanced by some good shared experieince – understanding emerges, or can emerge. A high level of understanding can make up for lack of shared experieinces and help trust grow.
I think there needs to be some sort of core group: formally or informally recognised. I often prefer the word leadership rather than facilitation. But a particular type of leadership: frunction (ie what they do) rather than status (ie it’s Not a power thing). Leadership by influence. Greenleafs Servant Leadership one model I warm to. Or the notion of distributed leadership. On the other hand a strong individual with the right habits and attitudes can also have the nurturing emergent effect needed in a community – as opposed to a team (with it’s boundedness and task oriented nature.
Again it is complex: weak leadership can be made up for with other factors – like shared care. leadership trying to come in from outside and shape direction for external agendas can kill off a budding wannabe community.
Merrolee Penman coined the term “Community with Amnesia” in her peripheral participation in an online workshop in 2004. ‘They have the seeds of community, but don’t know it’. I remember raising the existential question with her: Is a coward a coward before they do a cowardly act? Is a community a community before they do a community act? Mere potential is not enough for me.
Dysfunction can set in when levels of trust + shared experieince + caring + passion + care + focus + vision (etc) add up to less than a critical mass. [But a level of tension and debate is also needed to prevent communities from atrophying, imploding, withering.]
This is my cylinder theory, I’ve never put on the net: the cylinder of function can be filled up with lots of different inputs – - – I may come back to this.
I have seen a teacher switch schools and see a difference in community feel that is like night and day.
Here is recent news (headline news here yesterday) of the funding body/sponsor for one community I have been involved with:
From Aug 4th 2008: The West Coast Development Trust is so dysfunctional and divided that it can not be trusted to do its job in delivering economic benefits to the region, the auditor-general said today.
The trust was set up to administer $92 million of $120 million funding package given to the West Coast in compensation after it banned the logging of native forests.
The auditor-general’s report released today paints a picture of trustees infighting with allegations of corruption being thrown around and counter-allegations of leaking confidential information.
The auditor-general said the situation was so serious that trustees should sort it out immediately or just stand down.
“Unlike other public entities with elected board, there is no other ready mechanism for resolving this level of dysfunction,” the report said.
“Until we see evidence that the group of trustees is able to take effective collective responsibility for the governance of the trust, we are unable to provide assurance that the trust is able to deliver fully on its purpose of generating sustainable employment opportunities and economic benefits for the people of the West Coast.”
Lastly (for now) there is the concept of membership and identity. Who can join? If I show up will I be accepted? If I bring in screwy ideas, what will happen? If I turn up with an agenda, ditto?
I have tremedously benefitted from community like entities over my entire professional life. I have had a lot of fun. I have seen (unfortunately) more than my share of bullying, manipulation and crassness. But: I have not given up yet.
Communities exist [or not] and the online supports them. How, tech problems etc is a whole other matter. Someone else can write on this.
I think from the people, that they have some sense of identity that they carry with them that allows them to be better stronger as individuals than if they were on their own. Both a sense of their own identity and their identity as part of a group. Are they better in their cause for being part of the group? Is there nurture and care, both of the person and the cause.
Robert Greenleaf said this: “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?” (You can Google to find the ref)
You get the idea. I’ll only write on this if I really need to.
[I'm sorry to my three regular readers to divert a little into Facilitating Online Communities course comment]
Blogs or forums?
Do I go back into facebook?
From Peter: I have no experience with Diigo rooms, and I don’t know how many do. I was wondering earlier about setting up a FOC08 group on Facebook, but again, don’t know if anyone is on there, and if Diigo is fine then I don’t see any reason to clutter the space and fragment the info.
I think for me the answer is no.
Are we in any shape or form a community?
One of the things I find fascinating, especially as we go into this next week of study, is the ambiguity or “play” between us as a group of people doing an online course on facilitating online community, and us as a potential (some might say budding) online community ourselves. I certainly find a close relationship in my own work between facilitating and nurturing/developing/“building” online community and for me this question gives context to all the others that have come up for us so far. Amy
Quoting . . and managing the flow of information.
Netvibes. What a cool job Joao has done. When I saw this page I knew: the tsunami of ideas and thought (and thoughtlets) has hit.
Who am I?
What is community? This is of course the question of the week. It’s like the judge said when asked to define Porn: “I know it when I see it”
Post to your blog what you hope to get out of this course. Include any concerns or questions you may have.
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.
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.
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 wiki “A 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?
The course – Connectivism and Connective Knowledge – (the wiki is here) will be delivered fully online with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous interaction. Participants who have enrolled in the course will receive feedback on assignments and course work and will receive credit for their work. We are in the planning stages of what will become a Certificate in Emerging Learning Technologies (slated for delivery in January, 2009). Connectivism and Connective Knowledge will count as credit in that program. ltc.umanitoba.ca:83/connectivism/?p=15
Read the post: they are taking on some of the critical issues around learning for learning’s sake and learning for credit.
This is cool.
I had tea yesterday with a friend who has a wife studying at an institution I have had a lot to do with. My friend has described a litany of loose ends and sad experieinces with learning over the months, and his wife has in his words “figured out what she needs to do to pass and is engaged in doing it”. Sad.
I’m signed up for this course. If we can call it that. I expect to have a challenging and stimulating time, and sort out a few of my ideas further, and have some fun. If anyone is interested in a New Zealand – or a Christchurch Learning Cell around this course – please contact me. I’ve also advertised on the DEANZ blog.
More later . . .
Tomorrow our time.
The only browser still to have things I am jealous of is Safari.
Just had an e-mail from some of my buddies at cpsquare announcing a January workshop on Community Platforms. Great Idea. I’ve been mulling around possible futures for Interact – maybe spin it off as a slightly narrowed aim (not have to worry about all the quiz, gradebook stuff, and concentrate on core business: learning community support). Still thinking about Moodle as a platform. It is true: “Community needs a place”. Why are we taking soi long to get our online platforms sorted?
Dan Randow made a passing comment last week:
Why don’t you just take on a community support role for Interact, and leave the development to others? Just make sure you have the role of code management sorted somewhere (ie what becomes part of the codebase). . ?
This was a new thought to me. There is one guy who has said he’s be interested in a role in working with Interact. I actually have little idea of what the interest is out there – I think there is a need for something.
Today Marilyn Leask passed on this link: www.communities.idea.gov.uk/home.do
”You can apply for your own workspace on www.communities.idea.gov.uk if you are working with a group to support local governnmet improvement ie work in schools and local authorities and communities. If you are not employed in local government then it would help to get a sponsor.
Yet another community platform, quite a nice experieince logging in, (Yet Another Username And Password @#$%).
On another matter: institutions have a life of their own. Set up a project, kill off a community. Sad. Communities need to be “for the communities”.
We helped start a blog with an academic group last semester. One person in particular posted some neat stuff, even with 70 posts tagged controversy. He must have done something wrong. The blog owner (or at least the one with admin powers) dropped by in and no iffs or buts: deleted every post.
It’s hard not to feel “What did we do wrong in our work with these guys?” Always a danger with institutional blogs etc.
I wonder what the moral of the story is?