It has been quite a week! The email forum has been going berserk with enthusiasm, confusion, chaos and insights. Reminds me of that moment you first walk into a fun park... trying to do everything at once :) It was good to see all this, and I think we managed to keep a balance in the orientation week's discussions.
The email forum is not a requirement for the course. It is a space for those of us who enjoy discussing the weekly topics and socially constructing our learning. The minimum requirements for the course are listed on the course wiki. In week 1 - Orientation, everyone should have by now set up their own blog, set up an RSS news reader, and introduced themselves to the course wiki with a link to their blogs.
It is now my job to create a list of everyone doing the course with their contact details and blog addresses. This should make it easier for the rest of us to subscribe to each other's blogs. We don't have to subscribe to everyone's blogs - just the one's that interest us. It is my expectation that little networks will naturally form based on what we can make out about each other through our blogs. Some of us will gravitate towards the more technical aspects of what make online communities work, others towards the more human aspects, and so on. So long as we cross reference each other from time to time such as by making hyperlinks to each other's blog posts from our own posts. Through tis linking a good over view of our network forming will emerge - just in time for week 7 - Blogging networks.
As was discussed in week 1 by some of the participants, a tag word for the course is being used as a way to collect and centralise all our dispersed work in this course. FOC08 is a way to label each of our posts so that they can be collected in one place. It is a nice way to quickly come together if any of us are already established online elsewhere and don't want to have to set up a whole new account and space. The search engine technorati is already starting to pick up references to FOC08, and a few of the participants have manually started collecting people's work into the one place for quick reference. To get your blog posts included in those places, just add the FOC08 tag word in the field below where you type up your blog post and it will appear. Its easy networking! I know.. it sounds complicated to those who are not familiar with it.. but it IS a very handy thing for people who are already set up online.. it saves a lot of time.
So, we now begin week 2 and 3 focusing on the question - What is an online community? We are meeting at 3am UTC (That's 3pm NZ time, and other times here). Just click the link to the 24/7 meeting room before that time and you won't need a password to join. A recording will be made available if you can't make it.
Things to do for the next 2 weeks are outlined on the wiki. Please take your time with it, you have 2 whole weeks (10-12 hours) on the question of what is an online communty? I think it is one worth reading up on, discussing in the email forum and posting a response to your blog. Already there has been a promising start to a discussion in the email forum on the subtle differences between blogs and forums for communication. Don't forget to cross reference to other people's posts, and of course to include other reference's in your post that show's you are researching and learning :)
Good luck, and watch this space for updates.. this space being the course blog - add it to your shiny new RSS News Reader ;)