Monday, October 19, 2009

19th October Looking for online community: Social networking platforms

Social networking platforms are web services that technically facilitate social networking and community development. From Facebook to Linkedin, each social networking platform has slightly different functionality and social phenomenon. In this topic we will try out the Online Facilitators network, and review several other social networking platforms like it.

To do

1. Join the Online Facilitators network on and help generate activity by creating a strong profile page, observing and interacting with other members.

2. Attend the Elluminate meeting on Tuesday 27th 12pm (world clock here) where we will discuss the features of other social networking platforms, and become administrators of the network so we can view the admin features of this particular platform.

3. Write up a summary of social networking platforms and include ideas on how you think facilitation would work in these contexts.

4. Finalise preparations for your facilitated event at the course mini conference.

Second Life

A small number of us met in Second Life last week. As a follow-up, I would like to offer you two more sessions: Tuesday 20th October 10am and Thursday 12pm. I will meet you at :


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Extreme facilitation

I had an experience of extreme facilitation last night which gave me a few gray hairs. We had an Elluminate meeting set up to discuss the mini conference with Leigh, who has recently moved to Canberra. It was a very important meeting aiming to clarify things about this important assessment and a good number of people were present. But Leigh and Herve just couldn't get into the meeting room. Leigh had the idea of integrating Skype into Elluminate, so we eventually managed to communicate with each other with me acting as a form of conduit between the two technologies - a great example of the problems you face with online facilitation and how to deal with them.

Clarifying things about the mini conference
The link to the meeting can be found here. It is well worth listening to the recording because a number of important points were clarified by Leigh. Here's a brief summary of what we talked about.

Topic of event.
Should be related to the course in some way. May be a further exploration of what we've already looked at in terms of online facilitation or related in some way. For example, there seems to be a lot of interest in DimDim so one event could be an Q&A session with someone who has used DimDim a lot. Another idea for an event is an interview of a person who is known for his/her online facilitation such as Sue Waters or Nancy White.

Don't get too hung up on the topic of the event - the important element of this assignment is the process of facilitating the event and what we learn from it. Having said that, we also want to enjoy the events and get something out of them.

The event may be synchronous or asynchronous. You could organize a live event - interview, Q&A session, panel discussion or debate. Or you could facilitate an asynchronous discussion using a wiki, email group, Facebook or blog. You could record an interview with someone then have a live event with participants discussing the recording, or integrate the recording and discussion into YouTube or Slideshare.

The presenters do not need to be 'experts' in their field - you could interview a classmate about their experience of DimDim or get a panel of classmates together to discuss the pros and cons about blogging, online facilitation or open access education. You could interview previous course participants on what they learned about online facilitation and how they have used that information in the last year/s. However, if you do approach an 'expert' like Nancy White, please be mindful that they are likely to be very busy so may not be able to help you. They will also require plenty of notice so you'll need to get on and organise things asap.

Please do not hesitate to ask Leigh or I for ideas about who to contact as a speaker. For instance, if you were going to run a session about DimDim, I can recommend someone who has had quite a lot of experience of using it and would probably be happy to come and talk about it.

The planning of the mini conference including times for the events will be continued on the course wiki - the page to look for is "Course Mini Conference". A number of people have already started to discuss their ideas for topics on the "Discussion" page. If you're stuck for ideas or not sure how things should be organized, have a look at what students did last year. Also, don't forget to check the instructions for the assignment - this gives clear information about how to organize your event and what information you need to share with us on the wiki.

Using the wiki
To start you off, I have written an example of the information we require from you on the wiki. A number of people have said they are anxious about using the wiki and not quite sure what to do. The easiest way I know is to copy what has been written before. I am very happy for you to contact me and I can talk you through a few basics via Skype or Elluminate. I am back in Dunedin so can also be contacted by phone via Otago Polytechynic as from next Monday. I am also happy for you to phone me at home in the evenings - let me know and I will give you my phone number.

Communication platforms
You can use whatever communication tool you like but you must keep in mind access issues for your participants. I know we've had a couple of issues with Elluminate but on the whole it is a very reliable communication platform and can be used on Internet dial-up. Second Life is also a reliable platform for conferencing although it does take a little time getting used to it. I have organised a couple of times for looking at other communication options - I am as new to these tools as you are, so these sessions will be very informal 'test' sessions.
  • DimDim: Thursday 15th October 1pm & 4pm; Friday 16th October 12pm. Let me know if you are coming and I will send you an invitation - if I can work out how to do it :)
  • WiziiQ: Monday 19th October 12.30 pm - click here for meeting
  • Tinychat: Tuesday 20th October 12.30. I don't think this room can be set up beforehand so I will email the link to the room around 12.15 so you can join me by 12.30.
All these times are New Zealand times. If those of you who live over seas would like to arrange alternative times to test these tools, please let me know.

Whew.....I think that is it. Needless to say, if you have any queries please don't hesitate to contact either Leigh or myself. Sarah

Image: Image: 'Icarus - 127/365' tranchis

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wayne Mackintosh and wikis

The recording of the meeting where Wayne Mackintosh talked about wiki is here. I haven't been able to check that the recording is all correct, so please let me know if there are any problems with it. Wayne is speaking under the name of 'Terry Marler', so sorry about any confusion.

How a wiki works

In the meeting Wayne gave a short explanation about how wiki works and how communities of people are formed as a result of the work they do on wiki. Wayne told us a little about Wikieducator, which is the wiki project he is involved in.

Looking at wiki community
To get a better sense of how wiki community work, I suggested that everyone has a look at the discussion pages that sit behind a page on a wiki. For example...look at the entry about global warming on Wikipedia...then look at the discussion page...what do you see?

Mini conference

At the meeting we also had a very quick discussion about the mini conference. Here's a couple of points that cropped up:
  • Don't forget you are the facilitator of the event...not the teacher/speaker.
  • Make sure you post the focus of your event on the discussion section of the mini conference wiki page so we can all see what you're thinking of doing. I'm starting to get a sense that there is a duplication of ideas, so it's important that we all liaise on this page.
  • Leigh will be available on Wednesday 7th October 8pm NZ to discuss questions about the mini conference - world clock here

5th October Looking for online community: Virtual Worlds

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to interact via avatars. These avatars are usually depicted as textual, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional graphical representations, although other forms are possible (auditory and touch sensations for example). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users. Wikipedia July 2008.

In the next two weeks we will be focusing on the use of Second Life as a platform for interaction through an online simulated environment. It is recommended that you access a modern computer and you will need to install the Second Life client (platform/program) to do the activities. If you live close to an Internet cafe, they will be able to set you up for an optimal experience. Some people working in public institutions or large organisations have experienced restricted access to Second Life. If this is the case check with your computer administrator, or consider completing this topic on an external computer and network.

To do

1. Download and install the Second Life. Set up a Second Life account and avatar. Post your Second Life user name to your blog. Instructions for how to do all this can be found here in this orientation package.

2. Add your Second Life user name next to your details in the Participants list. You will see that my name is Petal Stransky.

3. Once you have installed Second Life on your computer feel free to have a look around. This link that will start Second Life and log you in directly to Jokaydia. Jokaydia is an island in Second Life that has a very active community of users, including a number of educators and researchers. This link will take you to the Second Life Education New Zealand project, which are two resources that support the teaching of interview skills and midwifery practice.

4. Attend the meeting I will be leading on Thursday 15th October 8pm NZ - world clock here. In this meeting you will be shown how to use Second Life and then be taken on a tour of interesting venues and projects in Second Life including Jokaydia and the SLENZ builds. Please note we will be starting off in Elluminate before I take you into SL.

5. Read through the Wikipedia entry for Second Life and conduct your own research into the platform to develop a perspective on what sort of communities exist there. Write a post to your blog with ideas on how you might operate as a facilitator for a community within Second Life.

6. Continue preparations for your facilitated event at the course mini conference

Extra resources can be found on the course wiki.


Image: Mini-Conference in Second Life PiAir (Old Skool)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Online meetings for the next couple of weeks

Here are the dates and times for online meetings for the next couple of weeks.

Wiki, community and facilitation
I will be interviewing Wayne Mackintosh about wiki, community and facilitation tomorrow, Friday 2nd October 12pm NZ - world clock here.

Apologies for the late notification of this meeting.

Planning for assignment 2 and the mini conference
Leigh Blackall will be available to talk to you more about the mini conference and the virtual event you are asked to facilitate. This is planned for Wednesday 7th October 8pm NZ - world clock here.

Learning about Second Life
I will be putting on my 'teacher's' hat and teaching a session on how to use Second Life. This ties in with the section of the course that looks at community and facilitation in Second Life. This session will be on Wednesday 15th October 8pm NZ - world clock here. Leigh will facilitate this session.

The session will start off in Elluminate but we will be moving over to Second Life to have a look around and learn more about how to interact there. I am currently taking the Learner Centered Learning course so this teaching session will be observed as part of my assessment. I will send you full information a little nearer the time but if you want to get a quick preview, here is my lesson plan. Please feel free to leave me comments or feedback about my plans to help me prepare for the session.