Saturday, August 29, 2009

31st August 2009. Looking for online community: Discussion forums

Since the commencement of this course we have been looking what online community is and defining its features. We came up with some ideas about how to identify an online community in an online meeting, and carried on our discussions in our blogs such as those of Dean Groom, HeatherM and Adrienne.

The last two weeks we have been considering the difference between teaching, facilitation and moderating. Course participants have written some great posts and it has been interesting to see different perspectives of facilitation between educators and non-educators in blogs such as Stephen Blyth, Chris Woodhouse, Rachel, Herve and Hilsconnectionto. And as I said in my last post, we came up with a list of facilitation skills in our last online meeting.

Looking at discussion forums
Over the next two weeks we will be looking at online community and discussion forums. Discussion forums are probably the most used platforms for online communication and community development. Car lovers use them, software developers use them, subcultures use them.

A discussion forum is primarily a text based mode of communication where someone will post a start to a thread and people will respond to that thread. Often, many threads can be going at the same time, with discussion lasting from a few hours to years in some cases! Google Groups and Yahoo Groups host many discussion forums, with the added feature of sending email to participants. Other forums might not have the email feature, relying on users returning to the forum to post.

To do
1. Locate an example of an online forum and post to your blog a link to the forum with an assessment of the forum based on the list of identifying features that we have collaboratively developed in our online meeting.

2. Interview a member of the forum you are looking at and obtain comments and ideas on how the forum might benefit from facilitation services - such as a coordinated event to help focus people around a particular issue, or the writing of a summary to close a thread in the forum.

Course email forum
3. Join this course's email forum (if you haven't done so, or if I haven't joined you up already) and post an email with a link to your blog post containing your write up and interview.

Any questions?
The next online meeting will be on Tuesday 1st September 3pm New Zealand time (international time zones here). I have asked Leigh to talk to us about formal/informal learning which is modeled in this course, as some of you have shown interest in knowing more. We will also be available to answer any questions about what we have done so far and the weeks ahead.

What you have found out about online forums and community
The following online meeting will be on Thursday 10th September 8pm New Zealand time (international time zones here). In this meeting we will be discussing what we have found out about online forums and community, and some of you will be asked to present your findings.

Here is the link for both online meetings.

How are things for you?
I would appreciate a quick sense of how things are going for you, especially those of you who are enrolled into this course, so please feel free to do the poll on the right. If you have any questions or feedback about how the course is going, please feel free to contact me in any way. I will be phoning all enrolled students again over the next few days to check in with you.


Image: 'Sarah laboring under the misconception that partially+obscuring+her+face+will+slow+down+my+picture+taking...+seriously,+how+long+has+she+known+me?'

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