Monday, December 10, 2007

Mark and Debbie's meetings

Here is the link to Mark's Elluminate meeting about the online game Travian.

Mark presented to anyone in the class who was interested (and several were) about an online game called Travian. Mark gave us an overview of why he got interested in gaming for his students. “Their attention spans are not short for games.” Romans, Teutons and Gauls are the three armies. Mark started using a web tour but we could not see anything apart from the login. So mark then used application share which worked a treat even on dial-up.

There were several villages eg Macdonalds, General Electric etc. It is a game of resources which accumulate as it is played in real time. Each village has to be built up and they get the idea that “nothing is for free. Mark showed us something of the game and explained how it worked, and then stopped to let people ask a question. He gave us plenty of time to think of a question. The silence did not seem to perturb him.

One of the philosophies of the game is it is a collaboration and group exercise. Game and how does it relate back to learning. Aspects have relationships back to real life eg. Communication skills. It is also a game of strategy. After Mark's presentation there followed some good discussion about games and learning. Mark is intending to use more technologies and games next year. For example, games which relate to real life – Theme Park – physics of rollercoasters. I can see the potential for a game like this to build communities - doing in action and actual community building in every grain of the game.

After the presentation, I also dipped into Second Life for Debbie's event where we visited some locations used for language teaching eg Kamimo and we got to meet some of the owners or members of the communities. We also got to meet some of the language students who were working on assignments in SL. It was a surreal experience which went on quite late and people were reluctant to part. Our last experience was to fly into a waterfall and we all met in a sauna-like room with log fires and places to relax - very cool! I certainly felt like I was part of a community during this event.

Branwen Trevellion behind a waterfall in Second Life chilling out.

I have to admit to not really knowing what was going on a lot of the time. The time lag we were experiencing meant I got a bit lost and separated from the group at times. Debbie was an excellent host and it was amazing to really explore the educational potential of SL and see it in action. Some of the buttons for things such as screens for presentations did not work for us but their potential was obvious.

I really miss not having sound in SL, but apparently there are problems with time delays for audio.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Course evaluation

  • The course evaluation is now open on Blackboard - these are the questions we would appreciate feedback on and this will help us make improvements for next year. These are standardised by MIT. If you do not have access to Blackboard, please email Lisa (see group email).

Facilitation events tonight

Don't forget there are two Facilitation events happening tonight at 730 pm to which you are invited - it is ok to jump in and out eg go to Mark's for the first presentation part and then trot off to SL or you can choose one to attend. I hope as many people as possible can support Mark and/or Debbie so we can go out with a blast - this is the last (official) week of the course. Remember to check the Group email if you have any difficulties accessing either session. my cellphone is 021735438.
  • Mark will be presenting about his experiences with the game Travian and facilitating a discussion about gaming in education on Elluminate. (Bron assisting.)
  • Debbie is facilitating an exploration in Second Life. Her SL name is Debzee Miklos and leigh's is Leroy Goalpost if you need assistance look for him and they will meet first of all at Koru. (Leigh assisting.) Leave plenty of time to load SL on your computer if you are not already set up.
"The plan is to find three or four locations in SL that I think could have potential for language teaching, and take members of the group (who would be interested) there, and arrange Q&A session with the owners or members of the respective communities, or
show them around a location.

and the others' names are:

Veronique -Tulip Debruyere
David's - Pertheus Ran
Yvonne's - Cushlie Blackadder
Mark's - Marcoski Gophellar
Bron's - Branwen Trevellion
Carolyn's - Dacary Dumpling
Sarah's - Petal Stransky

See you all there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Recording of Online communities Linda's meeting

The meeting last Monday night on Elluminate was very interesting, thank you Linda and everyone who joined the meeting. Here is the link to: Online communities Linda's meeting

It was a brief account and discussion about a "distance learning opportunity that was developed for Canadian and New Zealand Occupational Therapy students. The Blackboard site was called the Kiwi-Canuck connection." Linda writes in some depth on her blog about her experience in facilitating this community earlier this year.

We also had some very lively discussion around creative ways to stimulate online discussions and how to assist professionals to write reflectively. Have a listen to the recording and find out about some of the ideas we came up with.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Linda talks Canadian NZ tonight

Tonight Linda is going to share her online discussion experiences with us at 730 pm tonight 19 November. She facilitated an online discussion forum earlier this year with Canadian and New Zealand participants. If you go to Elluminate all will be revealed.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Last week's Facebook, this weeks Second Life

I finally found some time to record and upload Ellen and Sarah Stewarts talk on Facebook and Bebo. So sorry for the delay. It was a good over view of the social networking platforms that sparked yet another lengthy discussion. Thanks Ellen for showing us your FB and telling us what we needed to hear. FB is too cool for school! :)

Here are the recordings of last week's talk.
  1. Audio files on
  2. Elluminate recording.

This week we were to hear from Aaron Griffiths about Second Life. Unfortunately Aaron has gone missing and still no word. It is very unlike Aaron not to show to such things, or to be offline for so long so we're a little worried. I hope you're OK Aaron. It was a shame to miss Aaron's talk, I have heard him present with Clare Atkins at eFest this year and it was a quality presentation with a lot of in depth topics to consider. Hopefully we will get a chance to hear Aaron in the near future.

Thankfully Clare Atkins was there to fill Aaron's shoes, but getting her audio through on Elluminate was not possible. So we all met up for real in Second Life. We toured Koru, which is currently hosting SL spaces for NMIT, Open Polytech, Weltec and others I think. Clare showed us around the various projects and I couldn't help ask how much it might cost Otago to have a presence on Koru. Clare hazard a guess at around $NZ400 per year - which is well worth it I think. To have a presence in this platform that is attracting so much interest. To have a place where Otago people can meet and call "home". To have a place to put news and information on the various projects we are working on. I think it would be a good thing to do. I'd like Otago's space to have at least one mountain with a small club ski field if possible :)

Friday, November 2, 2007

As you prepare to facilitate, try not to teach

The technologies used in this course were never meant to be central I believe, but the dynamics in the questions around facilitation and online communities were.

I'm still ranting and raving to anyone who will listen about the differences I see between facilitation and teaching, and that post I wrote to my blog has attracted quite a few comments (thanks). The question is far from sorted in my head, and I get the feeling that it is not so sorted in the heads of those around me too. So it seems to me that we need to explore this for some time, and perhaps the questions will remain beyond the bounds of this course.

For anyone who may have tuned out of the discussion that sparked on my blog, it might be worth revisiting it. I'm hoping we can keep this issue in our minds as we all prepare to facilitate some form of online communication as part of the assessments in this course.

Some questions:
Why is this course called facilitate online learning communities and not teach online learning communities? Is teaching and facilitation really interchangeable? Is facilitation simply one of many techniques that a teacher employs in their work? Or is teaching just one of many 3rd party services that a facilitator might call on in their work? Is it possible to be both a teacher and a facilitator within the same group of people? What are the differences in the roles and what are the social dynamics in play when they function?

In some ways we debated a related issue very early on in this forum. Remember the ice breaker debate? I think I was wrong to dismiss the value of ice breaker activities. I think the thing I really should have been challenging was the often prescribed and teacherly way in which these types of activities are done. Ever experienced the trite and trivial discussion groups at conferences that people begrudgingly take part in? Or15 minute team building activities? These sorts of things are in my mind poor examples of attempts to build learning communities in short spaces of time. But attempts to create a sense of social bond that we might recognise as a community are important - especially in the online context. I suspect that Aaron Griffiths will be able to talk directly to this when we discuss some of his thinking about Second Life.

So, this post is just a little prompt. One of many that try to shake us from our comfort zones a little and into a zone of questions. Try to put the technologies aside for a spell, step outside them and look at them for what they challenging us with other than skills acquisition. To my mind the disruptive aspects of these technologies (in our profession at least) speak directly towards the facilitate or teach question and other issues to do with social power dynamics.

Monday, October 29, 2007


All the detail about the assessments has now been put on the wiki page for Facilitating Online and Online Communities.

Wiki assessment - barn building
Several people have made a great start to their wiki page. I thought you might need a bit of help with it in preparation for the face-to-face session on wednesday 31 october 1 - 3 pm. If you can only come for part of the session that is fine. Venue to be announced. Auckland people - I am organising something with oriel and Lisa.

Here are some questions which might help you formulate your ideas for your wiki page.

If you go to the wiki page ( you will see under projects what people have already started doing. If you need help with editing a wiki & wiki protocol please look at the tutorials and cheat sheet (in help pages) to help with this. use the following questions to help with what can go on your page.
  • Who are you trying to help inform about being part of an online community? Is it students or other staff?
  • what sort of information do they need?
  • What information is specific to your discipline?
  • How will you convey this information? For example, will it be part of some activities, will it be a list of guidelines or instructions, will it be audio visual?
  • Do you need to create the information or link to material which is already available?
As part of wiki philosophy and communication within the class (online community), you also need to look at other people's pages and give feedback and suggestions. Remember to use the signature tool when doing this and to also use the discussion tab with signature and also to set your wiki page watch tab so it is on.

Facilitation Plans
The facilitation plans are past due so we will now make the date for submission 7 Nov so people have time to create them, discuss them and also see if you would like to use Second life as a venue for your facilitation event. You do need to hand in the facilitation plan before your event so the faciltiators can give you feedback on the design.

Timing of facilitation event
You will need to time your facilitation event for the weeks 12 & 19 Nov so you have time to prepare assessment 4 - reflection on the event on your blog. The following are excerpts from the learning guide on Blackboard.

Facilitation Plan

15 Oct

Planning to facilitate

How do I plan opportunities to participate?

What is an engaging activity?

Theory of online facilitation e.g. five stages (Salmon).

Discussions focussed around guest speakers and resources provided by this learning community. On Elluminate, group email and blogs.

Submit Assessment 3 Facilitation Plan


5 Nov


Facilitate and take part in groups

Make notes as you reflect on this.

Assessment 4 Part 1 Facilitation

12 Nov

19 Nov


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Our first venture into Second Life together, and a reminder about Facebook

Sarah Stewart initiated an impromptu meeting in Second Life this arvo - just for those who wanted to get their head around it a bit before we look at it more seriously the week after next.

Carolyn (pictured), Bronwyn, Sarah, Yvonne and I met up and just happened to bump into Aaron Griffiths from Nelson Marlborough Institute. Aaron's SL name is Isa Goodman (as in is-a- good-man :) and he briefly told us a bit about the NMIT project and SL generally, as well as helping the newbies get used to moving around and the like. Isa's a legend at helping people get used to SL, as well as a programmer and builder of environments in SL. He built NMIT and other places.

Pretty soon conversation moved to the "what can we do educationally in SL?", so with the little time we had left, and for those that weren't having technical issues (sorry Carolyn), we visited Virtual Hallucinations - a project from UCDavis designed to simulate everyday life for a schizophrenic. I was mighty impressed by it the first time I went through, but as Sarah pointed out - she was having a hard enough time just moving about in there before being able to appreciate the simulation, so as with all these things we need to have a good grasp of the tech before we can leverage the learning through them.

Isa started talking to us about the extensive community base in SL - much of it educational. (Well, all of it educational I 'spose - depending on your definition..). Isa pointed us to the Kiwi Educators group - who meet up in SL every Sunday to tour new venues or "sims" (simulations) as they're called. This Sunday they are meeting up to tour the new IBM sim.

You can subscribe to Aaron's blog to get updates on New Zealand projects in Second Life and the activities of the Kiwi Educator's group. I'd highly recommend connecting with Aaron and his work if you are at all interested in the potential and early adoption of simulations, virtual meeting spaces, machinima, 3D virtual worlds or any of the seemingly infinite applications for this platform.

More photos of our first meeting can be viewed here. Remember that we will be looking at Second Life as a platform for online learning communities starting week after next.

This coming Monday at 7pm NZST
(that's Monday 6am UTC for our international followers), we will be hearing from Ellen Stewart, a young New Zealander who uses the social networking platform Facebook to stay in touch with international friends. Ellen will help us consider the question of whether Facebook has a sense of community within it, if it is or could be used for learning, and some suggestions on how we might consider facilitating learning through platforms like Facebook.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

wikieducator development meeting / Barn raising

Our online meeting about our work on Wikieducator did not amount to a Barn Raising mainly because it was our first meeting between people who did not previously know each other and because the topic proposed for a concentrated collaborative effort is pretty broad and needing of explanation. An in depth discussion was had however, touching on a number of thought provoking topics. Links and notes for this meeting can be found at the Wikieducator Development Meetings page.

Here's the recording of the meeting in MP3 - 70 min, 12 meg.
Here's the recording of the Elluminate session.

Thanks to Sue Waters for providing us with an Elluminate meeting space at the last minute. The Otago Polytechnic's Elluminate meeting space is back online now so it will hopefully be smooth sailing from here on in.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10 Minute Lecture - Derek Chirnside - Community in courses

Derek Chirnside gave a bang on 10 minute talk on his concept for developing a sense of community in courses. It stimulated quite a bit of discussion around the open and closed course debate.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ready setty?

A wedding photo ;)

So we are starting to come on back from holidays. A new series of 10 minute lectures is getting lined up, so get your typing fingers ready so we can look forward to some fresh and insightful blogging from everyone about what we are about to discover.

  1. Derek Chirnside is going to talk with us about community in formal education courses on 15 October.
  2. The week after we will spend a little more time looking at wikis in that we have a barn building event lined up for 22 October where we will use Elluminate to coordinate with those taking part.
  3. Then we will start focusing on social networking sites like Facebook, and the new educational versions like Ecto. I think Sarah is lining up a few people on the 29th to give us a 10 minute lecture on Facebook, Bebo and Myspace.
  4. After looking at social networking sites it might be about right to focus in on Virtual Worlds and reschedule Sean FitzGerald from Australia (remember when Elluminate broke down?). My brother in law is also willing to give a talk about World of Warcraft too.

So if you feel like you need a short background reading on Virtual Worlds, George Siemens recently pointed to this little summary by Mark Glaser at Media Shift. Adding to that is my own attempt to explain the virtual worlds at a Wellington web developers conference earlier this year.

We've already had a little look at Ecto by watching the promo video. Hopefully that video has helped people recognise the functionality and potential of these services for online community building. If not, try watching a few more Youtube videos about Ecto submitted by other users. Has anyone come across other good resources about social networking sites? There's the tried and true Social Networking in Plain English of course.

As for wikis and barn raising events, hopefully the Barn Raising event scheduled next Monday will attract experienced barn raisers and we can see and learn from them.

And if you have a few minutes before Monday 15 October, have a read through Derek's blog in readiness for his talk.

So, there's 4 topics to look at over the next 4 weeks. Try to make notes to your blog that summarise your understanding from the readings and resources and add links to other related resources that you find in your own research. Try and make it to the Elluminate sessions so we can have an energised discussion about the things we are looking at. And remember - 5 hours per week is your expected time allotment to this course, use it wisely. Use your blog to document what you do with that time and if you find yourself running out of time, make a note to your blog on the reasons.

Ok, that's it from me. Is nice to be back and feeling energised to explore some fascinating new areas of online learning communities with you all.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Did you catch any whitebait?

Don't holidays go all too fast. I chose this pic (Whitebaiting off the Devonport wharf by wonderferret) because it struck me recently that what happens in the whitebaiting season is an excellent example of a community of practice. People gather and work alongside each other, they have a common purpose and goal - to catch whitebait, they share, they help each other yet get a bit tetchy about boundaries and territory, they collaborate, they talk and laugh, they cry - when the fish don't run. They celebrate.
What do you think?

How many of you managed to tick off some of the things on the list I left you with? The list is still on the course blog if you need to refresh.

Activities for this week and next
Today Monday 8 October, David McQuillan is going to facilitate an Elluminate session at 730 pm to brainstorm some strategies for dealing with technology when it breaks down. David will send out an email today with an overview of what he is planning for the session.

This week you need to start thinking about your plans for facilitating an online event. I will put some guidelines up on the course wiki in the next day or two.

Next week 10 minute lecture
On 15 October at 730 pm we will have another 10 minute lecture on Elluminate: - Derek Chirnside speaking about Adding a community flavour to our courses.

Remember the 22 October is labour day and we can all go off fishing again.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

videos about tagging

here are a couple of videos you may find useful about tagging - Social bookmarking in plain english

and How to add a tag cloud to your blog

Also if you do a search in Youtube - there are lots of videos explaining how to set up and use delicious.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

now you can relax it is the holidays

Don't forget there is a two week break from the course - 24 September to 8 October. In this time some of you may be away conferencing or actually having some well deserved time relaxing. Others of you may be catching up with some of the course activities. There may also be some of you meeting and chatting online using Skype.

The course facilitators will be pretty quiet over the next two weeks as we will be on leave as well.

If you wish to catch up a little
, probably the most important things to do are to:
  • make sure you have listened to some of the 10 minute lectures and made some notes about them in your blog
  • look at the activities around online cultures and social presence on Blackboard
  • read this article about social presence in asynchronous environments
  • do some work on your discipline-specific wiki page in the projects area in Facilitating Online on WikiEducator - check out the tutorials first which can be found via the help area.
Activities for when we return
When we return on Monday 8 October, David McQuillan is going to facilitate an Elluminate session at 730 pm to brainstorm some strategies for dealing with technology when it breaks down.

On 15 October at 730 pm we will have another 10 minute lecture on Elluminate: - Derek Chirnside speaking about Adding a community flavour to our courses.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Online communities page in wiki

The barn building session in WikiEducator was very useful. people will continue to build their discipline-specific pages and people seem to be taking a variety of approaches. For example, deciding on the list of topics to be covered in an online class and designing online activities to engage participants with the content. For more on this, please look at the new project called: Using wikis to build communities

At the end of the session the small group of us who were left had a eureka moment and decided to start a new page called: online communities. On this page we have listed some examples of online communities and will investigate answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the strategies employed by different online learning communities?
  2. What motivates people to join these communities and participate in them?
Have a look at the list of online communities and see if you can think of any more to add. Please start adding some ideas to help answer the questions as well.

I apologise but I couldn't seem to be able to retrieve the recording - might be something to do with the fact I closed Elluminate and then went back in - it was still recording but has not come up in recordings area.

10 Minute Lecture - George Siemens - Curatorial Teaching

George Siemens gave a 15 minute talk on his concept of curatorial teaching. It is a very thought provoking idea and generated quite a lot of good discussion afterwards.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A community is forming

Last night when Elluminate failed, again! And I was grappling with downloading Java to get Elluminate to work on my home computer, trying to find our guest speaker, trying to contact the IT technician to get help, trying to let every one of the four groups who were invited to the session know what was happening , trying to answer the phone calls and texts, trying to download Skype so I could message people, reading and answering the group email, messaging the facilitator who was trying to keep it all together :O
I saw some really interesting stuff happening and a community forming. It is almost as if we have to have ripples and bumps to get traction in a community.
  • The email group changed from being asynchronous to synchronous.
  • People were downloading skype and setting themselves up on it.
  • Jokes were being passed around.
  • Discussions were starting.
When we did finally get on Elluminate there was some really good questions and discussion around issues such as confidentiality online, obstructions to getting online from colleagues, what should go on the wiki. We also heard about Merrolees' web 2 project and passed around ideas for online facilitating. I saw some very sturdy beams being raised in the barn. I saw some excellent facilitation going on within the group. I saw people pulling together to find solutions. I saw lots of creativity and critical thinking going on. I was amazed. I had to go at 850 pm cos I hadn't had tea and Dave was facilitating. Great stuff!

Now I am really pleased Elluminate failed. Now we actually have a community thing happening and people supporting each other. So that, people, is what you do when the technology fails, you find alternatives. And to be able to do this you need to make sure there is a sense of community happening in your class so that people will pull together when the walls fall down. Do you agree?
Now I can pack my bags and put them at the door...well almost...but I am getting ready because several of you have already climbed the cliff face and reached level 5 in Gilly Salmon's pyramid for online facilitation. If you don't know what that is you better go look.......:P And people are starting to form themselves into groups using Skype so they can support each other. This is fantastic! And Sean has kindly said he will come back in October and this time facilitate a session actually in Second Life - the 3D virtual world. We will have a practice run there's a challenge for you all and for me as I have lost my avatar.

There is more on this subject on my blog....stuff about skeptic, cynics, extrinsically motivated learners, technology failing in f2f classrooms etc. I look forward to your comments.
There will be more barn building on Monday night at 730 pm til whenever. This time I will notify IT in the morning about the meeting and be on there an hour before...just to make sure.

OP people you can login to with your network login and you will have staff member status. The rest of you I am afraid will still need to click on the link I send out. I hope you can join us and raise some more planks. There also is another speaker on Tuesday 18 sept at 12 midday George Siemens....more on this soon.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ten minute lecture postponed to Thursday 13 Sept

The ten minute lecture with Sean Fitzgerald on Virtual Worlds had to be postponed on Monday night after we battled with Elluminate and Skype for an hour to no avail. It was great to have some hardy souls waiting in the wings to see what would pan out.

Sean Fitzgerald will now speak on Thursday 13 September at 7pm (NZ time). There will be questions and discussion until 8pm then - barn raising on the wiki for the class until 9pm or as long as people can stay.

To access the Elluminate session - click on this link.

Link open from: 18:00 NZST
closes : 21:00 NZST

No password required.

If this is the first time you will be using Elluminate, you may be prompted to download some software which may take anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes depending upon your Internet connection speed (allow an hour or more for dial up - not slow once you are connected). You can pre-configure your system with the required software by going to the support page located at:

Please make sure your computer has a microphone and speakers to be able to talk and hear while you are in the Elluminate meeting.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Barn building wiki exercise

Following Nancy White's lecture last week, some of the class had a bit of a discussion about the barn building activity on the wiki for assessment two.

It was agreed that the class would start with some existing content on WikiEducator called Facilitating Online and work on changing it to suit the group's needs and preferences.

Also each of you will create your own wiki page which has information on it relevant to your discipline and the culture of your students. This will all count towards assessment two:

In this assessment you will collaborate as part of a wiki community in a "barn building" activity. You will set up information relevant for facilitation in your discipline and also help develop content for this course. This assessment is due in Week 17, and is worth 25% of your total course marks. The emphasis in this assessment is on how actively you contribute to the wiki and participate in the wiki community..

Information about all the assessments is on Blackboard. Please remind yourself about what you need to do for each.

How to start?
  • Look at this short video clip on Wikis in plain english
  • Set up an account on WikiEducator
  • Do the basic wikiEducator tutorials
  • Make a start - contribute to the Facilitating Online information and add your own discipline specific pages.
Remember we agreed to have some synchronous sessions on Elluminate every Monday night at 730 pm. You can choose to check in or not but there will be a facilitator there anyway. I would like to make a start on working on the wiki synchronously from Monday 10 September if people are keen following the 10 min lecture and discussion session.

Ten Minute lecture this week
Remember the 10 minute lecture on Monday night 10 September at 7 pm is:
Sean FitzGerald - Learning Communities in Virtual Worlds.

Go to Elluminate meeting.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Blogging roundup

It must be nearly time for us to start looking at online communities as they exist in Wikis like Wikipedia, or Virtual Worlds like Second Life... but while we are all still getting experienced with blogging communities, I think this post by Dave Cormier is a very nice start to a round up. Dave joined us in our 10 min lecture with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and is another well known facilitator of online learning communities. I'd really like to invite him to give us 10 minutes also... but maybe we should slow down on the lectures while we start our move into other dimensions of online community.. hmm? But then I'm sure Dave can speak with us on many other aspects of online learning communities... Do any of the participants in this course have people they would especially like to hear from and speak to?

Exert from Dave's handy post:

Blogging - Not ‘IF’ but When and Where. UPEI presentation

...Blogging, like ‘academic writing’ is a vague label that really doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the subject it is meant to cover. Blogging is appropriate any time that people need to be kept ‘up to date’ with a topic, a person, images, videos… It should not be seen as a yes/no decision, but as a tool which, like everything else, works better when used appropriately.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

10min lectures - Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach - The Art of Building Virtual Communities

Early on in this course, many of us were enthusiastic for Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach' s article The Art of Building Virtual Communities. The tips in that article have received wide acclaim in the comments and other people's blogging.

We were lucky to have Sheryl join us with a 10 minute lecture and then discussion on Tuesday 4 September 12:00 Noon Auckland time, or for Sheryl, that's Monday, 3 September 2007 at 8:00 p.m New York time.

Here are the recordings:
Original files and other formats from
MP3 recording of Sheryl's talk - 5.2meg / 29 minutes
MP3 recording of discussion - 5.5meg / 30 minutes
Elluminate recording - 1 hour / no password needed
Slides on Slideshare Sheryl?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

10min lectures - Nancy White - looking over our shoulders

This week's guest lecture was a biggy. We were very lucky to have the famous Nancy White talk with us from the lovely Seattle USA on Tuesday 12noon NZST.

Nancy suggested that we watch this animation about Peer Assist before we met. (After you click play, the movie will have to load a little before it starts playing. If you are on dial up, right click and save the movie file to your computer).

It was a very inspiring and engaging talk and Nancy got it in at under 15minutes! That's the best so far :) Here are the recordings:

Monday, August 20, 2007

10min lectures - Konrad Glogowski - Classrooms as Third Places

Konrad Glogowski (that's him on the right) joined us for the 2nd in a series of 10 minute lectures relating to the facilitation of online learning communities. In this recording Konrad talks about developing a sense of community and individual presence before attempting formal learning. Konrad talks to his middle school teaching experiences but his research and insight is very applicable across many efforts to develop an online learning community.

Week four: Social presence

This week the designated topic on Blackboard is: Social presence: This involves the advantages and disadvantages of electronic media for communication.
Is social presence just about having one big party or can it have substance?
Glogowski's presentation today illustrated some of the ideas around social presence and the use of blogs - teacher and student blogs - and how a community can be encouraged. For example, easing students into the online environment and handing over ownership of learning to them, rather than stipulating what must be learned. How you do this depends very much on the learners and the teacher and the relationship between them. More on this later once people have had a chance to listen and reflect on Konrad's presentation. See more about this topic on his blog.

There is an article on Blackboard to get you thinking about the theory around social presence:
Na Ubon, A. & Kimble, C. (2003). Supporting The Creation of Social Presence in Online Learning Communities Using Asynchronous Text-Based CMC (computer mediated conferencing). This relates primarily to online discussion boards rather than blogs which is relevant to several of you and what you use already.

It would be good to compare this article with something on the use of blogs and social presence if anyone has anything and I will look too....coming up.

Participant Blogs

Naturally, this list grows. It might be a good idea to add the RSS feed for this list to your reader so you will know when new people join in.

Pictures that represent us?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Our blogging so far - is it evidence of socially constructed learning

There have been some really great blog posts made by quite a few of the participants in this course recently.

These include:

What's important to note in some of these posts is the presence of comments from others in our group! This is a very good sign so early in the game. I think the strategy of some - to announce their recent blog posts on the email forum - has helped to draw attention and discussion to their blogs, and having a few experienced bloggers has also helped. Great work.

It is important that we find natural ways to sustain this distributed and networked dialog. It is a sophisticated and long term way of communicating and helping each other learn that we need to properly explore in order to appreciate networked learning communities.
  • Remembering to visit each other's blogs just to see if anything new has been added is far too time consuming;
  • continuing to use the email forum to announce our articles could be one way to sustain distributed dialog;
  • checking the titles coming in on the right hand pane of the course blog could be another way to maintain currency;
  • or setting up and using an RSS news reader is probably the best way.

Some people have asked about this thing called RSS already, others are already using it, one thing is for sure - RSS is the glue that sustains many professional and networked learning communities.

Here is a video that introduces the concept of RSS and the news reader.

RSS in plain English by Leelefever

Make sure you click pause and let the movie load a little.

If you don't have broadband, the Wikipedia article for RSS is quite informative.

Here is a video that demonstrates how to set up a Bloglines news reader

How to Organize and Track Favorite Blogs by Annetics

If you don't have broadband, you may find that printing out this bloglines demo and listening to the audio a bit more accessible.

There is lots more your can do with RSS, such as all the content that is coming in on the right hand pain of the course blog, that's all RSS. Its an important skill and understanding to have for facilitating more sophisticated online learning communities.

I'll continue to refer to RSS over coming weeks, so there's no big hurry. This post is more for those who feel comfortable with their blogs and are ready to take on another challenge. Hopefully we as an online learning community will figure out how to leverage the benefits of RSS and network our blogs together and develop a distributed online learning community, rather or as well as the central email forum and Bb discussion board ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

10min lectures - James Farmer - Identity and Ownership

James Farmer joined us for the first in a series of 10 minute lectures relating to the facilitation of online learning communities. James talks about identity and ownership in online learning. Specifically comparing typical learning management system environments to blogs.

Recording of the Elluminate session
MP3 audio recording of lecture only
MP3 audio recording of discussion afterwards

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekly 10min lectures kick off for August

So far we have a great line up of international speakers for the 10 minute lectures focusing on online learning communities. These lectures will take place on the Elluminate Web Conference facility with recordings made available on the course blog and by podcast.

Please refer to the course calendar on the course blog for up to the minute information on these lectures.

Line up so far:

Thursday 16 August 7pm NZST - James Farmer. (Melbourne (Australia - Victoria) Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 5:00:00 p.m)
Click this link to the conference closer to the time.

James is an internationally recognised edublogger, researcher, web developer and service provider to James joins us from Melbourne, Australia and will be giving a 10 minute lecture about identity and ownership in online learning. A record of James' previous work can be found on his website Incorporated Subversion. Be ready for challenging ideas.

Monday 20 August 12noon NZST - Konrad Glogowski. (Toronto (Canada - Ontario) Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 8:00:00 p.m)
Click this link to the conference closer to the time.

Konrad comes to us from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto and known to us through his article Instructional Scaffolding. Konrad is internationally known through his blogging and research efforts and will be giving a 10 minute lecture to support his recent article, and will hopefully have time to include his ideas about loosing the teacherly voice in online learning communities.

Tuesday 28 August 12noon NZST - Nancy White. (Seattle (U.S.A. - Washington) Monday, 27 August 2007 at 5:00:00 p.m)
Click this link to the conference closer to the time.

Nancy is another famous educational blogger and well known for her consultation services Full Circle which focuses on skills and knowledge for facilitating online learning communities. Nancy joins us from Seattle USA and will be giving a 10 minute lecture summarising her perspectives about online learning communities and will hopefully have time to fill us in on the concept of Peer Assist.

So that's it for the rest of August, looking forward to seeing you online on the 16th! If you can't make these lectures, recordings will be made available on the course blog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Need Direction - Video

So here's a video to orientate new participants into this course and associated web services.

* Blip:
* Google:
* Youtube:

Need Direction?

Ok, as always, some of us are comfy and moving along with this course, others are confused and wondering what to do. This message is an attempt to catch everyone up and contains information on the following:

  1. The course blog
  2. the Email forum
  3. Blackboard content
  4. Your blog
  5. Meetings and guest lectures
  6. Old timers are here to lead the way and help
  7. So what are you doing now?

The course blog
For up to date information on what you need to know and what you need to be doing is announced on the course weblog:
This is the most important link to remember as it will links out to and announce everything else that we will explore in this course. On the course weblog you will find:
This announcement, and all previous announcements
Links to the Blackboard content, course calendar, email forum website, and our regular online meeting space.
You will also see in the right hand column a range of up to the minute information such as what is being discussed in the email forum, links that have been referred to, up coming calendar events, and we will soon include up to the minute info from each participant's blog.
So yeah, the course weblog is 'city central'.

Email forum
By now, everyone should be in the email forum and be receiving email loosely relating to this course. This email forum is informal, and intended as a place where we can discuss topics and share links and resources. If you prefer not to have these messages arrive in your email, you can adjust your personal preferences at the forum website.

Blackboard content
Those of you who have worked out what the course blog is, will have seen a post (message) made by Bronwyn called Week 2. That post has in it instructions for what you should be focusing on in the Blackboard content. To repeat, it is the Persona exercises in module 2. Unfortunately I can't link you directly to those exercises so you'll just have to click that link to Blackboard and navigate your way into the modules :(

Your Blog
The welcome post in this blog mentioned that you should aim to have set up your own personal weblog by mid August. That's now - we've received a couple of web addresses to participant blogs, looking forward to receiving more. The Blackboard exercise also requires you to have a blog created.

Meetings and guest lectures
We have regular online meetings to talk to each other live and cover a range of questions and information quickly as a group. To join these meetings you will need to refer to the course calendar and be sure that your computer is set up and ready. Please re read the Welcome post in the course blog to find advice on how prepare your computer for participating in these meetings.
If you refer to the course calendar you will notice that there are a number of named guests on at different dates who will each be giving us a 10 minute lecture and joining us for a 20 minute question and answer session afterwards. These people are all international experts in the area of facilitating online learning communities and are based in many different countries, so the timing of these lectures is inflexible I'm afraid. If you cannot make these lectures, they will be recorded and made available via a public podcast with links TBA.

Old timers are here to lead the way and help
We are lucky to have a number of people with us who participated in the course before this one. They are all very familiar with the Blackboard content so can assist people with that. They are also quite experienced with using computers and the Internet generally. They are with us in the email forum so if you have any questions please send an email to the forum:
and someone will pick you up.

So what are you doing now?
  1. Make sure that you have the course weblog address saved and be referring to it at least 3 times a week:
  2. Refer to the course calendar and get ready for meetings and guest lectures.
  3. Set up your blog and send the link into the email forum
  4. Do Module 2 - Personas in the Blackboard content and post your efforts on your blog
  5. Make sure your computer is set up for the online meetings and lectures

Monday, August 6, 2007

Week Two

Good things are happening in the facilitating eLearning communities course.

The Elluminate computer conferencing, discussions on Blackboard and the email group really got off to a good start. We already have lots of really interesting websites to explore contributed by lots of people. This is a similar posting to the Announcement on Blackboard and soon we will be weaning that off.

There has been some confusion about all the modes of communication, but lots of you have introduced yourselves on the Blackboard Discussion Board and been using the group email. It was great to see so many people with blogs already. Soon we will be mainly using the course blog for announcements and summaries...with a link from Blackboard in case you forget.

Well what is in store for us this week? Well the main topic is personas (link to material below) and activities are to do the following:

  1. Develop a group persona (Activity 2.1) - David has already started one on the Blackboard discussion forum - try and gravitate towards people with the same learning style - you will need to contact each other on email or instant messaging (chat).
  2. Set up your web log - this is where you will describe what you are learning and reflect on it and more - see assessment one in Assessments (Course Topics).
  3. Develop a persona for the class - this will happen once we have a few group personas.

Why do you need to know about personas and how do they help with online facilitation? This is the big question for this week.

I am currently analysing research data at the University of Wollongong and will be handing over to Leigh for the week....with one eye on the group email.


Thursday, August 2, 2007


Here are a few links to sites about icebreakers. Linda made a suggestion that we find one which might suit our classes. Please post your ideas of a good icebreaker for the classes you facilitate to the group email. This is a good example of the spontaneous topics which will come up in class.

Online icebreakers - a teacher-student interaction focus.
Icebreaker (facilitation) An *icebreaker* is a facilitation exercise intended to help a group to begin the process of forming themselves into a team... wikipedia 27/7/2007
Index of icebreakers, games and fun group
activities- Instructions to many useful
ice breakers, games, and team building activities
Teampedia - Teampedia is a collaborative encyclopedia of team building activities,
icebreakers, teamwork resources, and tools for teams that anyone can edit!

I like the truth and lies one and have used it with success - meaning all the class contributed and it helped me to form an idea of what sort of people they were.

Synchronous meetings online

dear all
We have organised a real time computer conferencing session this week to kick start the course.
Thursday 2 August 12 - 1pm - The Virtual Party! The meeting link is below and also details about how you can join a face-to-face group of party goers. You may also get to meet the alumni from the previous course. This is intended as a meet and greet session where you can get to know some of the others in the course and ask questions about the course. Good jokes welcomed.

Individuals: If you are joining from your own computer, you need to click on the meeting link below; there is no username or password needed. Please make sure your computer has a microphone and speakers to be able to talk and hear while you are in the Elluminate meeting.

Groups: If you wish to join a face-to-face group this has been organised as follows:
Dunedin - D207 - Otago Polytechnic Forth St
Auckland - Room L403 - Manukau Institute of Technology - next to the Learning Technology
Centre on the 4th Floor of L Block.

Thursday 2 August 12 - 1pm - meeting link: open 10 am for 12 midday start.

If this is the first time you will be using Elluminate, you may be prompted to download some software which may take anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes (up to two hours in bad luck cases) depending upon your Internet connection speed. You can pre-configure your system with the required software by going to the support page located at: