Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 23rd The idea

We have identified what online facilitation is and looked at several models for how we can do it. We have also looked at a couple of examples of how online facilitation works in education, business and non-profit organisations. Over the next few weeks we will be focus more closely on the intricacies of online facilitation and 'play' with some communication tools.

Once you know what you want to facilitate there are several issues you need to think about.
  • What is the most appropriate approach to the event, project or discussion? Synchronous or asynchronous?
  • What are the barriers to your facilitation and what are the enablers? For example, do the participants have access to the Internet bandwidth that will support your event, project or learning activity?
  • What communication tools will be most appropriate? How will you ensure your participants will have access to the tools?
  • What technical skills will you need as facilitator and what skills will your participants require? How will you ensure the participants have the appropriate skills?
  • Is this a work or 'play' activity? Will time constraints impact on the participants' ability or motivation to attend and engage?
  • If this is a work activity, will the participants' organisation, institution or employer allow them to have access to the Internet, or will institutional policies or firewalls prevent them from engaging with you?
  • What are the costs to you, the participants and their employer/institution/organisation? Will the costs be prohibitive?

Another issue you need to think about is sustainability of your online facilitation. In one respect working online is more sustainable than spending large amounts of money to fly people around to attend face-to-face meetings. Developing resources and making them available online often reduces the wasteful use of paper. At the same time, there are more general questions about social sustainability to consider.

  • Who's going to be involved and who is not? Who does your event or learning activity discriminate against? In other words, who cannot attend because they do not have access to a computer or the Internet?
  • How do you ensure that everyone has equal opportunities for learning, communication and collaboration. Is everyone's needs being met?
  • Is online the best mode of delivery? Is there another mode of delivery that is more appropriate?
  • In terms of planning for the future, how do we manage eWaste?

Web Conferencing
Skype is a free tool that you download onto your computer and use for synchronous voice, text and video meetings. It is especially effective for small group or one-to-one meetings.
1. Download Skype and set up a Skype account.
2. Add your Skype details ie user name to the "Participants" page. Add course participants to your contacts list in Skype.
3. Connect with a course participant and have a one-to-one meeting. In your meeting you may wish to discuss what you have learned this week, or your experiences of using Skype.
4. Connect with several course participants and arrange a Skype conference call in which you may wish to discuss the questions that have cropped up this week. (A Skype conference call can take up to 25 people but it is preferable to have a smaller number of people to retain the quality of the call).

1. Read the article Building Sustainable Communities through Network Building by Valdis Krebs and June Holley (2002).
2. Watch the video of Carol Cooper-Taylor talking about "How to ... Have Successful Online Forums/Communities".
3. Read the wiki page Synchfacilitation - moderating live synchronous sessions.
4. In your blog, you may wish to reflect on your experience of using Skype.

  • What worked well?
  • What did not go so well?
  • What skills or resources do you need to facilitate one-to-one meetings or conference calls with Skype?
  • How do you see yourself using Skype in the future, if at all, for online facilitation?


Karen Humber said...

Sarah - I am wondering what the most efficient way is to add the participant contacts to skype without losing track? The vast majority of participants have not yet added their skype info to the wiki page. I'm worried that if I add the numbers that are currently listed, I will lose track as others randomly post their numbers which happened to me with the blogs - until you started announcing new comers. I am reluctant to spend a whole lot of time cross checking to see who has added their info - and would prefer to do it all in one sitting. Do you have any suggestions?

Jillian Clarke said...

After reading this week's material, I have decided on my topic for the mini conference - How to set up an inter-professional online community within a health care facility. I would like to be a network weaver (and maybe dreamer!) and build a collaborative, innovative online team of maternity health profesionals who strive for excellence, critically analyse and improve care for women and their families and also the health profesionals themselves. Therefore I am putting out an SOS for anyone who has attempted to or successfully done this. Doesn't necessarily need to be in a health care facility but would like to speak to anyone who has had a go.

Sarah Stewart said...

Jillian: Can you put this into a blog post, and then I can link to it on Twitter etc

Karen: The best thing I can suggest is that you 'watch' the page so that you get informed everytime someone puts in their Skype details. You do this by going to the top of the wiki page once you have logged'll see a load of onto 'watch'

Hope that helps :)