Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Evaluate facilitation of my Voicethread asynchronous activities

The choice for my mini conf event/activity was an asynchronous activity in Voicethread. I was excited to use this new tool and believed that others would be keen to try it out also. This was not the case, I did not generate as much interest in using Voicethread as I had expected. My inspiration for using Voicethread came from a previous mini-conf activity 'Managing multimembership in online networks'. This is a great example of how a Voicethread can facilitate sharing.

I trialed an initial Voicethread (Vt) with the topic of 'The highs and lows of online learning' (Vt 1) to encourage participants to share their spectrum of emotions that they experienced during FO2010 or in their online learning journey in general. This activity was posted on Voicethread 22nd October. I sent a group email to FO2010 google group list titled 'Want to have a bit of fun with Voicethreads?' and an offer to contact me on my blog if they had any problems. I received a comment from Carole to advise that I needed to make my Vt public to allow access by all which was easy to fix, I then sent an email to confirm all was accessible if anyone had encountered any issues. I also posted a blogpost on which I kept a running commentary on the discussion. I had participation from Sarah, Coach Carole, Jane and Karen H over the following month. In an attempt to encourage further participation on the final day of the mini-conference I sent another email to the FO2010 google group however there was no further participation.

I have written up a summary of the conversation that developed on The highs and lows of online learning Voicethread which served as a backup plan if there were any problems with Vt, I have saved this on Google docs....
If you would like to hear more click here and you may even decide to add your own comment.

The second Voicethread Vt 2 which I created was to encourage participants to think about how they could use Vt, appropriately titled 'How can you use Voicethread?'. This Vt was not promoted via email simply on the Mini-conf wiki page. Participation in this was limited to Sarah who was very enthusiastic about Voicethread and again posed the question of how Vt could carry on the conversation.

What went well?
Vt #1 - I was really happy with the responses from participants re:my simple pen drawings that made up the series of slides/visuals. I believe these simple sketches gave the Voicethread a personal touch.
Vt #2 - this Vt gave me an opportunity to create the individual slides (as per Carole's recommendation) and load them into the sequence of slides. I also created a Screenr on how to create a Vt, which was a great opportunity to learn how to use Screenr.

What did not go so well
Vt #1 - On considering the number of comments I was initially dissapointed however considering that there were 5 participants with honest comments and responses I feel happy with the outcome.
Vt #2 - There was no participation other than Sarah (who I have been able to count on through the course for her support and encouragement. ) Thanks again Sarah! which I can only assume was a result of lack of promotion.

How the event was organised and promoted
Email was the primary method of communication/promotion for the first Vt with the course Wiki having all the relevant details to access both Voicethreads. There may have been some confusion about accessing Vt however I received no questions via my blog re:access.
I was conscious that I did not want to overload my fellow students with too many emails but I think, with the benefit of hindsight, that I did not do enough promotion and I should have used my new found friend Twitter.

What I have learned about Voicethread?
Audio comments can be recorded while scrolling through the slides. Load slides individually to ensure your ability to change the sequence of the slides in future. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Vt, but I still think it is great.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Further reflection of FO2010

Wordle: Learning manifesto

Did you learn new and useful things?
This is a tricky question because I have developed so much that it is hard to remember how much I didn't know before this course.
I learned so much about tools (Twitter, Elluminate, WizIQ, Google docs, Google reader and many more)techniques (blogging, commenting on blogs, tweeting and adding links, communication online) and human beings. No matter whether you are learning online or face to face , learning is still sharing information between people.
I learned how to make mistakes successfully, this is how I learned so much about using tools, I might even say that I enjoy making mistakes now (confessions of a control freak) .

Was it challenging enough?
The course was most certainly challenging but not overwhelming. Each week I looked forward to the readings and references and certainly to the live sessions (usually in Elluminate).

What could have been better?
The course was very OPEN and allowed each participant to interact to their chosen level, allowing them to take value as was appropriate to them. I do not have any recomendations for making the course better as I achieved far more than I was expecting.

What could you have done better.
I could have been more consistent in following blogs from other participants (sorting out Google Reader earlier in the course) and engaging personally with them by commenting.

Did the course facilitator do a good job?
AMAZING, Sarah is a great facilitator who showed us her human side and learned along with us. Her questioning allowed us to consider our perspectives, choices and opinions (opened my mind). Always supportive and consistent in her approach to providing feedback Sarah is an amazing mentor. I'm sorry Sarah but the 1% rule doesn't apply to you for a reason, you are obviously doing something right.

How will you apply what you have learned?
I have so much more to learn and am developing an online 'style' that I can call my own.

Who would you recommend to do this course next time?
When I return to work and am in a training/learning environment I think I will find other like-minded individuals who would certainly benefit from this course.

Key moments for me ...
Nancy White
explaining the difference between and communities and networks in mid-August.

Listening to Stephen Downes talking about connectivism in late July and being confident that the learning will come to you when you are ready for it, so you don't need to absorb everything that comes your way immediately. You can stick it in Delicious for a rainy day. See my blogpost on Kim's thinking.

Listening to Wayne Mackintosh talk passionately about WikiEducator and OER in the Elluminate chat 10th Sept.

Working with Nellie Deutsch on WizIQ 12th October - I learned so much about being a facilitator by 'doing it' and making mistakes and the value of evaluation and reflection.

Twitter conversation/meeting 16th Sep where I was given advice from a previous participant [twitter id=bacigalupe] in Facilitating Online course - "Engage personally, contribute meaningfully, pay attention, listen a lot and be consistent". These words just clicked with me and showed me how simple it is to be a good online learner/identity.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning how to learn online - Reflections of FO2010

Preparation for course commencement

I had looked at FOC09, however as I was pregnant and preparing for a birth in mid June, not to mention a new baby in the second half of 2009, I thought better of starting a course that I was going to struggle to complete. Therefore when the FO2010 course commenced in July I was very ready to get stuck into it. I had not read many of the readings, which I had initially intended whilst on mat leave but I must admit I was satisfied that I could manage the weekly activities by reading texts and investigating the links provided.

Blogging and connecting with others' blogs

One of the initial activities was to create a blog and indicate on in a post my intentions in joining the course. In looking back at this I have written that my goal was "networking with an international group of people who are also interested in oline facilitation". Have I achieved this? I believe this has been one of the areas that I have not succeeded as well as I could have. By coordinating new blog posts to feed into Google Reader I would have been made aware of new postings and then able to comment on posts.

Commenting on blogposts is a key way to initiate communication and recognise the work of another FO2010 participant. Instead of organising my RSS feeds to blogs I used the participant page to navigate who had added a post that I had not yet read (as once read the title goes blue). I think the reason I did this was that I saw the huge number of participants who initially enrolled in the course and I expected that keeping up with all blogs would be an impossible task, little did I know then that probably 60% of original participants would drop out of the course.

Blogging for me has been an excellent opportunity to reflect and coordinate where I was going and what I was thinking. It is a way for me to direct my thoughts ie. when I hear an idea or point of view and I am considering my opinion/position, I think 'how would I blog about that?'. This has been a key skill that I have developed during the course, and still have a long way to go. Listening to and participating in Karen's mini conf session has inspired me to become a better blogger because this is a major way to present yourself online, which in turn brings interaction and recognition from others which in turn leads to more learning and growing.

Live sessions

Using Elluminate to attend weekly group sessions has allowed me to become very familiar with this tool, from a participant's perspective. I still need a bit of practise from a facilitator perspective however I am not sure if Elluminate will be available to me in the future so I will focus on it then. As a participant I find Elluminate very easy to use.
WizIQ was a great tool for online meetings although I had challenges it made it that much more rewarding, as I discussed in my blog post.

During the process of this course I have developed and learned how to use my Personal Learning Network within a couple of Personal Learning Environments. Twitter has been a key tool allowing me to connect with a network that I have built over the last few months. I have been able to play with soooo many new learning tools (web 2.0) which I now realise was one of my key objectives. I also have a network to continue to find out more tools.
I am a real fan of WizIQ and on occasion will log in to find out what tutorials/lessons are available.

So in summary ....
  • I should have coordinated all blogposts into Google reader and kept up to date then commented to initiate communication and build strong network relationships.

  • I am a twitter addict

  • I am committed to becoming a better blogger

My next steps...

Create my eportfolio - I am really keen to coordinate an eportfolio for myself. I am very committed to maintaining an open source method of sharing learning and so believe that I would be best to use freely available tools (that I have learned to use in FO2010) to create my folio however have to decide whether to do this with a blog as my core.

Tweet more - I must admit to having become a twitter addict, it is like an online course via links. I can find out so much about educational technology and online learning by just signing into twitter regularly. I also need to learn how to add value by tweeting more myself.

Blog more - I need to actually do the blogging, I think the thoughts, consider my position on a topic and then don't seem to get a chance to write it down or it ends up in edit mode for too long and becomes redundant. Perhaps I need to restrict my word count (as is done with twitter) to ensure I am concise and then maybe have subsequent posts that follow a point or argument. I need to put more links to illustrate what I am thinking...this is what I find more interesting when reading others' blog posts.

I have also decided to take up with my previous blog 'Kim's thinking' as this blog (that you are reading now) was designed specifically for FO2010.
I have many more thought running through my mind but in the interests of actually putting these thoughts out there I am going to publish this post. Looking forward to Fridays session - 'Pulling it all together'.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Having fun with Voicethreads

I am still working on my mini-conference plan but am having a bit of fun with Voicethreads.

I'll see what happens .. I have shared the link with all FO2010 participants by email .... I hope somebody wants to play along.
Update as at 23 Oct 2010....
Carole and Sarah have both commented on my 'Highs and lows of online learning' voicethread.
Carole has empathised with the amount of info and my frustrations with technology. Her Voicethread presentation is 'amazing' check it out...epCop Voices
Carole has been a great help with technical aspects of getting my voicethread up and running. Thanks so much Carole
Sarah is interested in discussing more about the amount of information that we have to deal with throughout the course.
What info and activities should be dropped out and what should be left in the course?
How to keep things manageable but engage participants and give them the skills to think about online facilitation in a way that is going to be useful to them.
What are your thoughts?
Using Voicethread for facilitating a conversation
Sarah has challenged me to consider....
how I attract people to Voicethread
how I will keep the conversation gonig
what I want my outcome to be
how I instruct people about what Vt is
..........leave it with me Sarah ... I'll get back to you
How would you use Voicethread to facilitate a conversation?
Update as at 26th Oct
Sarah I am finally answering your questions about how to use Vt to facilitate a conversation.
I am thinking that I can attract people to Voicethread by making it as easy as possible to understand how to use it. I plan on making a screencast (using screenr) of how to use Vt and I am going to send (yet another) email telling them that other people have made comment on my Vt, so appealing to their curiosity.
How will I keep the conversation going?
So far the comments that have been made by Carole and Jane have been very honest and I think really insightful. the nature of Vt means that I t uhought I would be unable to add another comment but I have played around and worked out that I can add another comment to another slide/page in Vt. I have also attempted to continue the conversation here in my blogpost. I thought about linking it to a Facebook conversation but they never seemed to be very successful amongst the group.
My outcome..I had no intended outcome for this activity other than to familiarise myself with how Vt works and ask others to comment to play or introduce them to Vt. So far there has not been a huge response however the comments made have been valuable and I believe generated a very honest discussion.
How do I instruct people about what Vt is? I am thinking that I might create the screencast to istruct on how to use Vt, this would give me another opportunity to send an email communication. I could also use this screencast down the track, plus I will get a chance to play around in screencast (who knows what that could turn up?).
NB: I have coloured text for no other reason than to make it easier to read.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting lost in a good way

I am thinking about preparation for my Mini-conference assignement which I want to conduct an asynchronous seesion about survey questions.

In researching past mini-conference events I have been getting list in various links to people and things they are/were/have been thinking about.

Strategies for managing multi-membership in Social Networks' by Bronwyn, Jeffrey, Sue and Sylvia..great work! This event was FAB...it makes me realise that the power is in keeping it simplle but relevant to the audience. It got me thinking about how I manage my social networks and I got some great hints on how I can improve.

Everytime I go into Voicethreads it is a buzz, I find it so insightful (between the podcasts and voicethreads I think I am becoming an auditory learner..who would have thunk it?) Maybe I will use Voicethreads, might have a bit of a play with it first.
Oh how you learn from your mistakes...I just accidentally posted this blog to the FO2010 course blog...Sarah had given me access to blog on tips for WizIQ...I don't think I can be trusted anymore Sarah, maybe it is just too late in the evening.
I am enjoying making mistakes I learn so much. Oh yeah that's what the mini-conf is for.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reflecting on a session where the facilitator learned more than anyone

The following blogpost has been written as a form of reflection for myself and and as an example for others on why you should have a back up plan for anything that may go wrong when you are facilitating an online session, because if something can go wrong it probably will go wrong .... then also have a back up plan for that back up plan.

WizIQ session 12th Oct 2010 'FO2010 Evaluation Strategies'

The WizIQ session for week 11 ended up being a really great session, there was a lot of learning done, particularly on my part as the facilitator, lots of troubleshooting.

The overriding theme for the whole experience was to ... have a back up plan.

I had nominated myself to facilitate our Week 11 class in WizIQ which the group had never used before, this was an exciting challenge and I had seen a session in WizIQ facilitated by Nellie Deutsch who coincidentally was our guest speaker for the session, so I was very confident in Nellie's skills in using the tool.

I had sent an email to the group with details of times which was also on the course schedule on the wiki. One thing I did not include was the link to World clock to allow participants to easily check the time of the session in their timezone. As a result one of the participants had miscalculated the time and missed most of the session. Definitely a lesson learned on my part to avoid participant frustrations and dissapointment, simple things like the world clock allow participants to be prepared and show up to the session at the correct time, and as a facilitator one thing you need is ...'participants or learners'.

As the class had not used WizIQ (as a class) Sarah and I decided to have a practice session. During this practice there was terrible audio feedback on my part which caused the conversaton to be really disjointed. I was determined to do all that I could to make the session run as smoothly as possible so I investigated further on WizIQ.

As a result of the problems we encountered in the practice session I realised I had to learn more about WizIQ so I sat in on a Tutorial in WizIQ led by Shivani Vadehra titled 'WizIQ rules for teachers', just a 20 min session giving a brief rundown using WizIQto it's best. From this session I published a blogpost on FO2010 blog to give participants a brief on what was needed for the session. Feedback indicated that this info was helpful in preparing for the session.

The information provided in the rules for teachers tutorial indicated that Wi FI internet access really causes audio problems, so I knew that I had to use a cable to access the internet on the day of the session. The plan was to plug into a port in our downstairs office. This also solved the problem of having screaming children in the background. I would be in a quiet environment with no interruptions for the hour of the session.

Internet access is a very neccessary part of any online facilitation. The internet access that I normally have is fairly reliable however as our family are changing internet service providers the change over was to happen on the day that I was facilitating the session so that meant that my old provider was disconnecting me and my new modem had not yet arrived. We managed to connect tot he internet the night prior to the session by using the old modem accessing via a temp method whith the new provider, it was working fine the night before so I breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed for a 6:30 wake up with a 7am session start time. Of course the next morning the access I had enjoyed the night before was ... no longer!

The next back up plan was put into action. I have a good friend who lives close by and has internet access, I had called her the night before just in case something went wrong and asked if I could use her internet access, on the day it was a mad dash with my netbook over to her place. I was in a bit of a panic as I was not sure if the session would commence without me having launched the class and then participants would perhaps think the session was not on.

I knocked on the door, her son had just woken up, so had she but she kindly set me up in her office and brought me a cup of tea, so I was connected to the internet. I logged into WizIQ a few minutes late for the session to find that participants had access to the class and were chatting using the chatroll function. I started to talk but participants indicated in the chatroll tha my mic audio (speaking) was patchy and really not good at all. I was able to hand over audio, video and write access to Nellie Deutsch who was our very gracious guest speaker for the day.

There were several comments in the chatroll to indicate that everyone could hear Nellie very clearly, they were impressed that the audio quality was much better than that of Elluminate. My audio (listening) was still very patchy and I needed Nellie to type instructions of what I should do to fix i t as I could not make out what she was sad that saying. Nellie suggested that I log out of WizIQ then log back in, but I was concerned that this might end the session as I was the moderator. I was easily able to log out of WizIQ and back in and the audio was perfect.

Nellie gave us details about the tools that she uses to obtain feedback and evaluation methods.

The chatroll is the first form of feedback that Nellie uses, she explained that this is how she gauges participants responses to what she is saying, because she is unable to see our faces. Nellie encourages participants to detail their responses into the chatbox.

Google docs offer templates for producing surveys which is what Nellie often uses to obtain feedback from her participants.

Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are also networks that allow Nellie to receive feedback and also via email.

The group had an opportunity to write questions or comments on the whiteboard which did cause some frustration as the whiteboard can be scrolled when everyone has write access and as a result people were trying to write but losing their spot, perhaps this is something to note for future sessions that when a group are writing on whiteboard to limit to the top left to ensure no scrolling, maybe this would work.

Gloria provided a good example of providing constructive/critical feedback to a facilitator/presenter at a session she attended however the presenter did not take the feedback on rather they made excuses for themselves. This prompted a discussion about the importance of accepting feedback & how our responses to feedback as facilitators is very important.

The above reflection does not a completely cover all the discussion during the session so if you would like to listen to the recording click here.

Nellie is a really calm and relaxed presenter and as a result the session (with all it's hiccups) was a very easy learning experience. General feedback on the session indicated that participants did learn about evaluation and feedback.

WizIQ is a great tool for conducting online learning/classes, I would highly recommend it. But as with ANY technology remember to have a backup plan and hope that you never have to use it.

For all the stresses that I experienced in preparing for the session I was on such a high at the conclusion of the hour. Sarah wanted to catch up for a debrief which I was unable to do, as I had to let my friend get to work. I found that I needed to go home and record my thoughts and feelings about the whole experience which resulted in this blogpost.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Considering cultural competence

Cultural differences can be evident in the way we dress, present ourselves,talk, socialise, in many aspects of who we are. The visual differences may be less pronounced when we are online, they are hidden, however there are many aspects of who we are that when shared can highlight differences, the way we talk, interact & communicate. Stephen Thorpe, in Enhancing Online Collaboration, suggests that "Cultural differences are likely to be more significant online, and they are not always obvious due to the lack of emotional cues and feedback." [p12]

Experiencing cultural difference is an exciting part of participating in an open online course within an international forum, however it can generate difficulties or challenges that need to be considered from a facilitators perspective.

Whilst there are many of these challenges that may not be able to be overcome it is part of the facilitator's role to at least recognise these challenges & make an effort to assist learners in overcoming them where possible.

What is cultural difference?

That amazing feeling, when you are travelling in a foreign country & you step away from the well trodden tourist trail to find yourself immersed in another culture is exhilerating. For me it is one of the attractions of travelling, that makes every trip new & 'different'. When I commenced the FO2010 course I took for granted that with many NZ participants there would be little in the way of obvious cultural difference, we all speak english & having travelled to NZ a few times & having had many Kiwi friends in Australia I did not expect any cultural differences to emerge. Yet they did and it has been an added bonus of participating in the course.

Some examples of cultural difference I have experienced during this course.

I am really enjoying using the term "it can all turn to custard", which I now understand to be a NZ phrase (my husband reminds me that in Australia we use a less dignified word for custard). I have heard the phrase used a couple of times, once from Sarah & then from Willy.

In another session we were chatting about where we were sitting and someone referred to the bird outside the window in a tree however she used the proper names for both, which were obviously NZ native, as some other participants also did not recognise what she was referring to. These little differences are what makes us specific to our culture.

Whilst experiencing cultural difference has been a joy for me I am sure there have been differences for others within the course that have not been such a 'joy'. I know that there are often technical challenges that have arisen for many on the other side of the globe, such as Folke's chipmunk and Karen's dropped connections during Elluminate sessions, but I have not read of any specific cultural challenges. Perhaps challenges with cultural differences is something that others would not share, would participants simply drop out of the course?

Language as a cultural barrier

Participating in PLENK2010 with such a large number (1500+) of international participants is allowing me to start to understand how challenging it is for non-english speakers to participate in an online course. There is a large community of learners from South America and they have formed their own FB group. As a keen FB user I checked it out but I was unable to read the text, there we go... a small taste of how it feels to be shut out due to a language barrier. I still have a long way to go before I think I will feel confident facilitating with learners who struggle with english. I need to watch & learn how others do this.

There are methods in place to allow non-english speakers to interpret what's going on, although I am not sure how to use it, there is an interpreting tool. Heli has described in her blog - 'Heli on Connectivism' the challenges she has faced attending the course when english is her second language and how she gets around this by finding another participants blog who offers a clear run down of what has been discussed, in saying that Heli obviously has a good grasp of english as her blog posts inidicate, she simply struggles with the pace of the Elluminate discussions - hey there's that much technical jargon (connectivist speak) I sometimes struggle.

What does it mean to be a culturally competent facilitator?

No one facilitator can expect to know all cultural differences & even if they did they could not know how they may effect different participants/learners but I believe the key to being a culturally competent facilitator is being open & available so that participants are made to feel comfortable raising any concerns that they have which in turn will give you a better understanding of the problem/issue & allow you as the facilitator to work with the participant to overcome it. However as facilitators it is still important to remember we can't 'fix' everything & sometimes it may be simply be giving participants the opportunity to raise their concerns that allows them to move forward, even without a magic 'fix'.

Welcoming people of different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities into an online group

As a facilitator it is important to take the time to do the 'touchy feely' welcomes & intros at the beginning of a course (and to a lesser extent at commencement of a session) so that everyone feels welcome. Where cultural differences pose a challenge I believe that simply by recognising where people are from at the outset allows any barriers to be 'broken down' to a certain degree and also recognition that inclusion of people from various cultures will allow for a richer learning experience if people are willing to share their thoughts and considerations from a cultural perspective, not neccessarily all the time but when it is relevant to the learning.

Ensuring the resources, images, communication tools and activities are culturally appropriate
I expect that this will pose yet another challenge to me as someone learning to facilitate online. By asking participants to be honest & offering their views as to the appropriateness of images, communication tools and activities where they feel neccessary will again set up an open forum.
As usual my conclusion is that I still have a lot to learn, but I expect that the more I learn the more I will realise there is to learn....lifelong learning...that is why it is so exciting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Engaging personally

It has been a busy week online in my world. As you can see from my visual I have also been exerting some very positive influence on my 7 year old son, we will work on the spelling next week. But, back to me....


I have been using Twitter a bit more and am actually finding it to be a nice quick reference to what people are up to (reading & thinking about, rather than what they are eating for lunch). Now is the challenge of collating a list of people to follow then keeping up with them.

I participated in the Twitter discussion on Thurs evening with Sarah, Folke and Matty Bee, there were also other participants one of whom suggested to develop a successful online network you need to..."engage personally, contribute meaningfully, pay attention, listen a lot, be consistent". I think I will take this advice on board & make an attempt to be more consistent with connecting & keeping up with all the forums that I now have to monitor, Twitter, FB, Wikis blogs, email (blah yuck!) and posting to my blog.
I can see that Twitter will become one of my favourite places to go to see what others are up to, it can be quick and easy or I can get lost in the plethora of further reading references that people add. I have learned how to reply, retweet and use a hashtag to get involved in a 'stream' and I even used Twitter to comment on Mattybee's blog (at least I think I did). I can see that Twitter will be a good way to "orchestrate serendipity" as Rachel Happe explains in her article '5 ways to orchestrate serendipity'.

[Blog update as at 19th Sep] I have stumbled across a helpful preso on Slideshare re: Twitter basics by Heidi Miller [contributing meaningfully]. I tried to email the FO2010 group from Slideshare but was not very successful so I tweeted it. Then I followed Heidi on Twitter [engaging personally]

I also joined in this mornings #FO2010 group discussion in Twitter and it was interesting that some participants (including myself) were not showing up in the stream of comments/tweets. We are learning so much about the perils of experiencing technical difficulties. I am not sure if I will be initiating any Tweet streams or twit chats (need to get used to the lingo) any time soon but I will certainly use Twitter to keep in touch with a wide audience of learning professionals.

e-Gems Elluminate session Wed

I involved myself in an e-gems session held in Elluminate facilitated by Melanie Worral on the topic of Instructional Design. Rather than just exit the session and perhaps read a few references that were provided (lurk, lurk) I also opted to follow Melanie on Twitter ... this is me 'engaging personally'.

It was interesting to note that during the session Melanie engaged participants in a whiteboard brainstorm session/discussion which was very successful, however later in the session when she attempted to pass the mic to engage us all in a verbal discussion there was silence, so Melanie threw up another blank slide & we again typed our comments; there was hardly a white space on the board when we finished...note to facilitator: always have a plan B.


I have also commenced another course called Personal Learnning Environments, Network and Knowledge 2010 [PLENK2010]. Yet another ball to juggle and I have committed to another blog for this course, I forsee a lot of cross-referencing to this blog & vice versa.

I have noticed that I am becoming more 'open' to sharing of myself online. For my first post on PLENK2010 I added an image of myself..a little bit conceited, perhaps, however there is no way I would have posted a real image of myself 2 months ago. I am enjoying interacting with new people online and part of my interest is putting a face to the name..it's the human thing. Again this is me engaging personally.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The FO2010 session held yesterday was to be hosted in Dim Dim however due to 'technical difficulties' (yes it all turned to custard) with the mic for the guest speaker - Wayne Mackintosh. The mic was not working consistently therefore we transferred to Elluminate, which allowed continuation of his presentation re:Wikieducator. Wayne presented a brief history & overview of of this learning platform & some very interesting stats which highlighted that this forum is being used predominantly by over 45s/Gen Xers.

As a result of Wayne's presentation I was keen to learn more about Wikieducator, this was very scary as I realised that Wikieducator may well become an addiction for me. I listened to a previously recorded session in Wikieducator on Basic Wiki Skills which was very similar in layout to an Elluminate session, however there was a visual of the facilitator(s) when they were speaking, which also seems to be similar to Dim Dim layout. The goals of the session were very basic they run through how to create a Wikieducator account, step by step with the participants and also how to update your preferences. The facilitators are Nellie Deutsch and Gladys Gahona, educators from different parts of the world who are advocates of Wikipedia (WE) and make reference to their online counterparts who they often collaborate with as their online 'family'. As with many online communities that I have experienced, they are welcoming & willing to assist and support new users.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Attracting an audience


When I started blogging last year I was hesitant to publicly post for a variety of reasons but I expect they all related to my lack of confidence with the medium, and also with my lack of awareness of the 'rules', of blogging. I didn't want to write something that might be considered 'innapropriate' in a blog post, because anyone might read it. Little did I know at that stage that attracting an audience to read your blog is one of the challenges of blogging, otherwise it sits out in the blogosphere (perhaps waiting to bite you at a later date).

Participation on FO2010 has really allowed me to become comfortable with blogging, even though I am not blogging regularly I am often thinking about how I would say/convey what I am thinking in my blog, so my thoughts are developing into the 'next stage'. I am told that I will build an audience if I keep blogging because it does take time to build up a network of people who I am interested in communicating with, & vice versa.

I have come to realise that blogging takes work, not work like running a marathon but like tinkering on a vintage car, it is enjoyable work and it needs to be consistent & constant to build and maintain a network. I need to get myself out there, read & post comments on other blogs, then refer them to my blog (trackback).

The more blogging & blog reading I do the more I realise it is a very convenient method of communication, you can really dig deep into thoughts of others and as a result develop your own thoughts & opinions. Previously these in depth thoughts would have been written (and hidden) in personal journals, we would have needed to really get to know a person before they revealed their thoughts - or perhaps attend one of their lectures or read one of their publications - I don't know about you but there is no way I was going to be 'published' if it wasn't for blogging. Blogging (and all social media) allows the everyday person to convey 'their' message, regardless of how insightful or banal the message may be.
Who is the audience
Social networking sites allow you to develop an audience (friends??) who will listen to (read) your daily gripes and messages of celebration but what if they don't read it, if they don't make a comment on your status, you have still done your job by putting it out there, if you really want people to comment make it more...sappy, funny, controversial. I can guarantee that there are many of my FB friends??? who would not even consider reading my blog, let alone be interested in the content but they are still interested in how I am feeling after a busy day. I can appreciate the distinction between my social network and my blog audience, or what I would consider my professional online identity.

There are some students who backlash against allowing their lecturers into their social networks which has resulted in the coining of the phrase 'Creepy Treehouse' to describe the use of a place where adults attempt to entice children to play, this is the focus of an interesting blog post written by Jared Stein. Interestingly Sarah referred us to this article via FB and it has got me thinking about the distinction between learners; from uni students who don't want lecturers to know what they got up to on the weekend to professional online learners/facilitators who are keen to build an audience with whatever tools they have at their disposal. Yet again there is always more to think about.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saturday 14th August session with Nancy White

Following Saturdays Elluminate meeting my head was still spinning. I finally get the difference between a community (group) and a network. I think it was the visual provided by Nancy White that assisted me in comprehending the potential enormity of a network whereas a community or bounded group, as Nancy referred to them, have a common goal or a shared purpose. There is also the 'in between' which occurs when a group "outgrows itself" or "when a community develops out of a network".
The session allowed us all to practise/play in the role of Elluminate staff member or facilitator with all privileges. The idea of facilitating an Elluminate session is now one little bit less scary. As a result of our play we moved into discussing the role of facilitator and handing over control, Nancy got us thinking about how we would manage a large group of 200 in Elluminate, at which point some of us passed out (jokes). Something to consider perhaps for the distant future.

We also discussed summarising which I found really interesting and Nancy provided a reference to the work of Jerry Michalski's Yi-tan call, which is a great example of verbal summary, boy can that guy talk fast. Listening to his summary made me think about the differences between verbal & written summaries, there seems to be allowances for personal nuances in dialogue, in Jerry's case he often says "jumped in"..."Chris jumped in and talked about..." to indicate who spoke and what they talked about. These personal nuances of speech are yet another example of the facilitator/presenter expressing their individuality or their humanity to allow people to connect, how is this done in written form? I propose that it is harder to write with individuality, I might keep a look out for blog posts that achieve this sense of the presenter's individuality.
Rayna provides an open and honest account of what she experiences, this makes her blog easy to read & refreshing.
Is it easier to summarise verbally by re-reading ones notes from a session, this would be an interesting experiment for me to complete. Nancy suggested that it is interesting to compare summaries with those of another listener to see different perspectives that result from the same session.
Nancy gave us another reference during the session to the work of June Holley. June conveys some very interesting thoughts about networks. Always more to think about.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Online identity

Online identity is a topic that I have been considering since I have started blogging again.
How much of me do I give away, in my endeavour to build an online identity?

It was unfortunate that the guest speaker could not attend this weeks group Elluminate session however I think that the topic selected was very relevant to thoughts and reflections of many of the course participants over the last few weeks. Another great example of a facilitator(s) thinking on their feet.

Blogging - When I initially considered this course I read Sarah's blog and was inspired to divulge the personal side of me to allow others (those who would participate in the course-FO2010) to make a human connection. I warmed to Sarah when I was able to see her smiling face in her photo, understand a little about her personal/family circumstances and understand her professional persona.
Online appearance was a consideration when I created a new blog. Do I differentiate my FO2010 blog by loading a new look photo. In the end the decision was made because I could not spend another moment fiddling with my new blog, I just loaded the same old photo that I have used on FB. I find that by using a photoshopped image of myself I avoid the cringing everytime I log on. I did not want a Second Life avatar, mainly because I do not have one as yet, but also I feel that this is a false impression of who I really am, to me it seems like it is a 'facade' of who you want to be. Perhaps this is an indication that I need to play around in SL to gain a more thorough understanding.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and a multitude of others have become commonplace in recent years. These sites allow connections to be made in cyberspace, but they still allow very human connections. I still see FB as a place where I can catch up with friends, at the commencement of FO2010 I did not understand how this could be used as a platform for communication in a course with strangers spread across the world. Now it is clear that the connections and friendships made online, are just as 'real' as the connections made face to face. My Twitter experience left a bad taste in my mouth, when I initially discovered Twitter I expected a network where people could make professional connections. I am not sure where this initial impression came from however I was soon dissapointed as I found that I was still getting updates about the cheese sandwich that someone had eaten for lunch. I expect that now might againbe a good time to dabble in Twitter again, it seems like it will be around for a while.

As an online facilitator there are many goals that I have, one of which is to give a little of myself to allow learners to 'connect' with me on a personal/human level. I find that by watching & learning from others I am adding to my list of Do and Don'ts. One factor which I find very endearing is Sarah's use of 'funny phrases' that really give an insight into who she is..."other days it all turns to custard". I believe that Sarah's intention, as she discussed in the session, to allow her online persona to be 'honest' to who she really is allows me to 'connect' with her.

I am now wondering how my style as a facilitator will be modified to an online environment. How will I use humor and convey my personal stories. Always more to think about.
Image is a shot from my recent trip to Queenstown...ahh the serenity!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where have I been?

I have not blogged for a week & feel like I am turning into a lurker - rather than an active participant. As a learner my reflector/theorist tendencies have emerged (reared their ugly heads)& my online time has been spent learning more about Heutagogy & it's author Stewart Hase. This investigation has, of course, led me deeper into the vortex of the world wide web, I often get sucked in. Somehow I found myself surfing YouTube where I found a fascinating presentation on the use of instructional technology over the past century, well worth a view, it's only 5 mins.

I have spent some time viewing participant blogs - I am still working my way through the list of participants & have considered if I am going to use Google Reader, or maintain control manually via the participants page. My question (to myself) is will this become a chore as is keeping my emails under control, & I think self knows the answer to this...don't you self?

I have viewed the Clive Shepherd video & find myself thinking more about Synchronous learning & Synchronicity. This could be another dangerous (time consuming) liaison with the web, or perhaps a message that I should finally get back into reading Jung.

Unfortunately I missed either our weekly group discussions, however this morn I participated in the Wimba session facilitated by Kerry Trabinger from Canberra Institute of Technology. Most participants were teachers from CIT who are using various synchronous & asynchronous technologies in f2f courses (blended), rather than conducting courses completely online. It was interesting that there are very 'hands on' courses such as Carpentery, Forensic studies, Hospitality (Cooking) using these technologies. What resources!!!! Wimba is very similar to Elluminate however CIT have it connected to Moodle (another system that I have been meaning to have a play with) everything is at the click of a button. Kerry made it look very easy. There were also 2 guest presenters from US, Rena & Keith who are using similar technologies in their work.

We are off to NZ next week for a family holiday but I am hoping to get some time out to focus on the weeks course activities.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Connected to the outside (inside) world

I have been so 'motivated' all day, since my early morning course meeting via Elluminate. I have not realised how much I had missed professional adult interaction. Whilst the day consisted of playgroup & scrubbing soccer boots etc. I have taken some time tonight to research "Connectivism" & "plearn'ing" in a UStream presentation by Stephen Downes (see my Kim's thinking blog for further info). Now it is time for bed. Goodnight, after a great day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

FO2010 course commences

Here I am blogging on Day 2 of the course because yesterday morn was spent sorting out my blog. There are many 'ideas' running through my head at the moment which I think I will have to control/manage by using the old fashioned method of putting pen to paper and see where they lead (if anywhere).
I am working my way through the growing list of participants to view their blogs and gain an understanding of their perspectives (industries, experience & goals) coming into this course. I won't have enough time each day to read everyones blog updates so I have selected some to follow that I believe have similar perspectives to me. The thought of being a facilitator & having to check everyones blog updates regularly in a course this size reminds me how I need to work on my time management skills (different time management skills to the juggling act that is being a full-time mother).
I want to learn to facilitate an introduction to online facilitation for F2F facilitators who I work with (when I return to work from mat leave early next year).
I also want to consider which components of our induction program could be modified to facilitate online (blended).
In terms of oniine facilitation I am currently completing the FO2010 course to gain skills as an online facilitator and build a network of colleagues. I am also continuing my online research to identify current trends in online facilitation particularly re:technologies.
I would like to develop my skills using the relevant technologies - keeping up with all communications and facilitate using Elluminate. I would also like to build and maintain a network of colleagues within the field of online faicilitation.
To achieve these goals I need to apply myself to completion of this course.
I am going to post this blog before I press something and lose the last 30 mins work.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Facilitating online course

Finally the time has arrived, the 2010 'Facilitating Online' course will commence next month. So much has happened since I was considering the course last year. I have had my second baby, who has been a bundle of joy (it really is easier the second time around, but that is it, no more babies!). My maternity leave has been extended until end Jan 2011, which allows me the opportunity to focus on developing my skills as an online facilitator via this course. I am looking forward to networking with an international group of people who are also interested in online facilitation.