Monday, November 30, 2009

FOC09 - My final Post

This is my final posting for the Facilitating Online Communities course. The key objective of the course was to explore online communities, facilitation as well as online tools (which included wiki, Second Life, elluminate, dimdim).

So what have I got out of FOC09?

This course has certainly been a journey, one of new experiences, learning and frustrations, however, the journey has come to an end and I feel relief and an appreciation of the differing roles that are involved within online courses. It took some time to really come to terms with the roles of ‘facilitator’ and ‘teacher’ and ‘moderator’ in online communities, however, having participated in and facilitated my own online event over the last few weeks, I have appreciated the difference between my own teaching role (comfort zone) and the very different facilitation role that I have witnessed through this paper. The mini conference was certainly a great way to put all the theory into practice!

This paper has certainly made me appreciate the difference between the three roles of teacher, facilitator and moderator. Back in August when I wrote the post regarding the role of facilitator it was hard to really know if a facilitator was “someone that managed a process of information exchange, and guided and managed a group to ensure the objectives were met effectively” – however, having watched Sarah in her role of facilitator through the course and again the experiences of the mini online conference this definition became much clearer.

I looked at some different discussion forums and I still await acceptance of one, may be they were not high users at all! These online forums have opened a new world of opportunities for both my own learning and professional teaching as well as the opportunities they have for our learners. Since my original post on the topic, I have come to better understand how these discussion forums can be useful and do we really need ‘shield’ ourselves behind a learning management system. Here’s to being more ‘openly’ involved in discussions.

From here we moved onto blogging networks. I tried to keep my interest within my own teaching context of hotel, hospitality and tourism at this stage and found a number of interesting sites, but they probably in hindsight were not necessarily the best examples of ‘networks’. As Willie commented, they probably were more advertising, but useful anyway.

From here we ventured into the virtual world of Second Life where I became my alter ego of pommieangel diabolo – she certainly had a better figure than me! Although this was my first time in SL and somewhat daunting, I can really see the range of possibilities that could be used in my teaching practice (although like many things it is the time required to prepare resources etc). At this stage of the course, everything became a little frantic! There was no break in the course, it was the busiest time of the year and I was worried that I was not going to make it!

My online event went ahead, I tried to be at as many events as I could make and have found that I have learnt so much through participation and attendance. The group have been so supportive of each other and I have valued the interaction.

The journey has been one of discovery of unknown technologies and online communities, even the FOC09 group itself (global participants). Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, I have made it. Some of the challenges were keeping up when work was so busy, I could have been better of really contributing to other people’s blogs, but I often find it hard to express myself on other people blogs (or is it the ‘openness’ of blogging!). Sarah (our facilitator) kept us on track via blogs, emails and phone calls which was great. Overall, I have enjoyed the course and looking back over the past 4 ½ months have gained a real sense of online communities.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

FOC09 Reflection on my event

I have had the opportunity now to participate in some of the other on line events as part of our mini conference. I must admit that I was very fortunate that technology was on my side, although I did favour using elluminate which we had been using through the course for some of our group “get togethers” (although the first time for me facilitating in elluminate).

Reflection on the event:

I decided for my event to facilitate a session on elluminate, I wanted to trial this medium as I can see benefits of using this online tool within my own teaching practice in the future.

I marketed my event via the FOC09 wiki page, as well as emailing my colleagues in the School of Applied Business, Otago Polytechnic and also through an internal message board at Otago Polytechnic and via a link through my blog. I was quite pleased with the number of attendees, although in hindsight more could have been done to promote the mini conference itself (through wider networks) as there were a lot of very varied and interesting topics.

My presenter (and colleague) Hillary Jenkins gave a 10 minute presentation on the use of wikis in education using the Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism course as her example. This was then followed by a question session. As part of the presentation there was a link to the appropriate website, however, I failed to let people know that they would have to manipulate the website; this could not be controlled by the facilitator! Although people did not comment on this at the time, it may have been a little confusing and a point that I should certainly make mention of in future presentations. The use of wikis and collaboration had been one of our learning topics through the course and I have an interest in finding ways that people would collaborate with this online tool.

I think some of the key issues that I have learnt from my own event and from attending other FOC09 events was the preparation required, the ability to “think on your feet” and to be confident enough to “take charge"!

I wanted my event to be a facilitated session rather than a lesson/lecture style session, so the short presentation (to hopefully stimulate questions) followed by questions, seemed to work well.

As a facilitator in elluminate you do have to watch for both the ‘chat’ questions as well as people wanting to ask questions via audio. The participants did seem to engage with the presenter and there was some good discussion at the end.

So what have I learnt from my facilitation, you need to be prepared for all eventualities, there is skill and the need to multi task. When you are the facilitator, you have to let the presenter/teacher do their thing and let the participants engage. The role of facilitator is not to control, but to guide the event.

So here’s to my next facilitated event!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FOC09 - After the event!

My event which was part of the mini conference for Facilitating Online Communities 2009 was held yesterday. The topic for the session was Use of Wikis in education. Hillary Jenkins presented information on how wikis have been used within the Diploma of Applied Travel and Tourism, Otago Polytechnic. Through her presentation, Hillary spoke of the importance of ‘building an online community’, both with the students on the course, but also through collaboration of information on the wiki. I will write a further post regarding the event and my learning of online communities.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FOCO9 Mini Conference details

Only six days before my online event where I will be facilitating a session with Hillary Jenkins, Programme Manager of Travel and Tourism from Otago Polytechnic. Hillary has been using wiki educator within her teaching for a number of year. During her presentation, Hillary will discuss how this can be used as both an educational tool to support her students as well as a marking tool. Prior to the event on Wednesday 18 November at 1pm (NZ time) you may want to browse through the Travel and Tourism wiki pages. Hillary presented some of her developmental work at the Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning.

At the end of the presentation, there will be time for questions.

If technology fails, there will be a backup plan via Skype and if that fails, the event will be re-scheduled.

I look forward to welcoming you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FOC09 - Mini Conference

So, my date is set for the mini conference and I have chosen to stick with a more familiar setting of elluminate, rather than the more exciting venue of Second Life (Sarah, I have not really chickened out!).

For the mini conference I have invited Hillary Jenkins (Programme Manager of Travel and Toursim) from Otago Polytechnic to talk about how she has been using wikis in promoting her courses, use of wiki in travel and tourism education and how students can collaborate in the learning experience and adding to the body of knowledge.

This session will be run via elluminate on Wednesday 18 November at 1pm.