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 edublogs.org. 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: http://blip.tv/file/334994
* Google: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6915831802125026429
* Youtube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gbiV-ZBLLXA

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: learning-communities-aotearoa@googlegroups.com
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: http://online-learning-communities.blogspot.com
  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. http://tinyurl.com/2q6wbp

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: http://elluminate.tekotago.ac.nz:80/support.help