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.