We've just had another fabulous week. Things are still full on but people are starting to get going with their blogs and some great conversations are starting up. We have a couple of late comers, so please pop by and say hello to Steve, Lyn, Peter and Sharon.
One of the interesting things about this course is the wide range of people taking part. And the diverse interests and learning goals. At one end of the scale is Carole who is an extremely experienced facilitator (who is teaching me heaps about how to use Elluminate) to Rayna who is very new to the whole online scene. We've got Dominique and Jane who are setting up their own businesses; Jillian who wants to develop a learning package for midwives as part of her Masters study and Cal who wants to better engage his Maths students. Then there's Floyd who only uses open sources software and is having problems accessing Elluminate because it is a propitiatory tool, and Matt who has given himself the challenge of seeing whether he can do the course via his iPhone to test the whole concept of mobile learning.
What's we've all got in common is the desire to learn and share with others.
Getting the hang of the technology
A number of us are still getting our heads around the technology. I was particularly touched by Jo's post in which she talked about her fear of online technology. Jo said
Every time I go to write a comment or a post and 'put my self out there' my heart starts to race and my blood pressure possibly goes sky high and I'm darn scared of it!
This has been a salutatory reminder to me as an online facilitator to remember that not everyone finds the online world as easy as I do. But as I keep saying, take things one step at a time...focus on getting the hang of one tool at a time...and don't forget to think about how you're going to use the tool for your online facilitation.
The other exciting thing that has developed this week is people's use of alternative and creative ways of mind-mapping what they want to achieve in this course. Karen went back to pen and paper so visualise her learning as a tree growing; Jane represented her goals with a brilliant stick men flow chart and Michael used MindMeister to show what he wanted from the course. Carolyn and LaTonya used their web cams to make videos and talk about their aims for the course. I especially enjoyed this because it gave me a better sense of who they are in 'real' life.
One of the themes that is starting to develop in people's conversations is online identity. Beattie got the ball rolling when she commented
I have been thinking that to effectively communicate you have to be careful be a real person, someone with a life and background. However, there is a fine line and to give too much you probably run the risk of pigeon-holing....To be able to facilitate and educate it seems like you have to give a glimpse of yourself without constantly blathering on with all of your own personal stories.
Rachel is working through the issues of being a lecturer and role model to her students yet being 'professional' in her blogging. Then, someone...but I cannot remember who and where...commented that blogging was a challenge in their profession because of a lack on understanding about what it's all about. This led me very nicely to a post that Michele Martin wrote earlier in the week called "How to Blog When Your Industry or Occupation Isn't Into It" - this post is well worth reading.
I have to admit the question of online identity is something I haven't included in the course schedule, but it is important for us to think about as online facilitators. Maybe someone would like to pick this topic up for exploration in the Mini Conference.
Image: 'Pilsen's 18th Street Cultural Painted "El" Stop+Stairway' uroticorico