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

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