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.