Friday, October 29, 2010

Mini conference starts next week

We have now come to my favourite part of FO2010....the mini conference. Make sure you check out the schedule so you know exactly what is happening, where and when. Please can I encourage you to attend and participate in as many events as you can in order to support the people facilitating the events :)

Here is the recording of the meeting we had this week in which we discussed last minute details about the mini conference: click here for recording. Several issues cropped up that I would ask you to consider if you are organising an event for the mini conference.

Use your blog for getting organised - not just for letting us know what's happening, but also to work through any issues. Use us...your blogging help you sort out problems and clarify details. Have a look at this post by Lynn in which she shares some ideas and uses her readers to frame up her event.

Information for participants
Make sure you have very clear details about your event on the wiki. Remember that complete strangers will be looking at this page and may be joining your event. So it is imperative that you make every step very clear.
  • Make sure you have linked to information about how to use the technology eg Elluminate
  • Make it very clear how to get to your event eg if you are using the Elluminate room, please put the link to the room.
  • Put details about your back-up plan. What will you do if your primary technology fails? For example, if you plan to use Skype as back-up, how will you organise this?
Marketing your event
Please make sure you inform everyone about your event in plenty of time. At the very least, put the details of your event on:
You are extremely welcome to invite people outside FO2010...the more the merrier. After all, you will not have a job as an online facilitator if you cannot drum up an audience. I will also be marketing the mini conference to my networks so be prepared to have people turn up who you do not know...and remember...these people may not be familiar with the technology you are using.

All the best to everyone, both facilitators and attendees. Have fun :) :) Sarah

Image: 'Free Pretty Pink & Purple Party Balloons+Creative+Commons'

Monday, October 25, 2010

Count down to the mini conference

We are starting our count down to the mini conference. You will see that people are putting information about their event on the wiki page, so keep an eye on what's being planned. I have also put together a Google calender and am feeding in dates/times which may make it easier to see when there are free time slots. I have also posted in my availability or lack there of.

Here's the recording to last week's discussion about the mini conference - I think we sorted out a few issues that had arisen:

We will have one last Elluminate meeting to answer any remaining questions on Thursday 28th October 09.00 hours (World Clock). However, if you cannot make that meeting and you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. Sarah

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Needing help to set up a calendar

I have been trying to set up a Google Calendar which I can embed into this blog, which will help us organise ourselves better for the mini conference. But as yet...I have had terrible trouble with one thing and another. So...can anyone help me and show me...or set up a doesn't have to be a Google Calendar if there is a good alternative. Sarah

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 18th Preparing for the course mini conference

In these two weeks you will focus on the event that you are facilitating as part of the course mini conference. The idea is for you to organise something for the conference, such as a guest speaker or a discussion panel through webconference; a discussion forum on a social networking platform; or assisting with the preparation and promotion of the mini conference generally. This will be your chance to facilitate real events online, and to experience the dimensions to facilitation online.
  • Identify a topic of interest expressed by participants in this course.
    • Create a title for the event.
    • Develop an aim for the event.
  • Arrange for a guest speaker, panel or other online activity.
  • Negotiate with the guest speaker/s, arrange times and locations.
  • Coordinate your session with the course facilitator and other students in the course wiki.
  • Promote the event in your blog, on the course wiki and with your online and face-to-face contacts and networks
    • Develop a contact list
    • Create a flier
  • Describe what technical support services you will need to make use of
  • Develop a contingency plan for technical problems, poor or over attendance, and other disruptions
  • Indicate whether recording will be done and where it will be made available after the event
  • Indicate how you are going to evaluate your event
Join the virtual class meeting in Elluminate to discuss last minute details and queries about the mini conference on Tuesday 19th October 19.30 hours New Zealand (World Clock). This session will be facilitated by Karen Wilson.

1. Add your event name and details to the course course mini conference page.
2. Start a discussion thread for your event in the course mini conference discussion page, and monitor discussion.
3. Post your plan details to your blog.

Image: 'reflections for the day'

How to paste a website url into Wikieducator

Here is a video to show you how to paste a website url into Wikieducator, using It is especially important to follow this process when you use the world clock website.

How to work out times throughout the world

When you are planning your online event for the FO2010 mini conference, it is important you let others know the time of your meeting - it is especially helpful if you are able to tell people what time the meeting is in their own time zone. To do that, I recommend you use the website:

Here is a video that will show you how to convert your time zone into international time zones.

Summary: Week of the 11th October 2010

This week was the last theory week, which means things start to get really exciting as we start to prepare our online events for the mini conference in November. People are starting to plan their events, so check out the mini conference wiki page to see what ideas people are playing with. Don't forget to add to the discussions that are behind that wiki page where people are asking for ideas and support, as well as sharing tips and advice.

DON'T FORGET to check with me first about date/time, to make sure I am free to attend your event (especially the formal students and the informal students who are aiming to collect a certificate of participation/completion) before you advertise your event.

Next Elluminate meeting
We will be having an Elluminate meeting next week on Tuesday 19th October at 7.30pm (World Clock) to discuss the mini conference, so if you have any questions, please feel free to come to this meeting.

How to...
This week I was asked how to work out times across international time zones - here is a video that shows you how to use the world clock website and here is another video that shows you how to link to the world clock in Wikieducator.

A few ideas
In the meantime, people have been playing with ideas for the mini conference. Lyn is interested in thinking more about how to facilitate online using Facebook. Jane is planning on a panel debate and would like volunteers to help her. Carole has been summing up what she knows about reflective practice and has concluded that she will use Voicethread to facilitate a discussion about ePortfolios, and tie this in with the work she is doing with the ePortfolio community.

My last plea...
is that when you are thinking about your event and the mini conference, try not to focus too much on tools. Yes...we need the tools to be able to hold online conversations. But online facilitation is as much, if not more, about we communicate online...what is good we're are sustainable and culturally we build online networks and we engage people... and so on. So I hope some of you will look at expanding our knowledge on these issues, as well as the tools we can use.

We had a fabulous meeting this week, talking to Nellie Deutsch about how we evaluate our work as online facilitators - the recording can be found here. Kim did a brilliant job of facilitating the meeting in Wiziq and gave us a very good feel for how this particular free web conferencing tool works - have a read of her reflection because she has given full details about what and what not to do. Tracy really enjoyed this session and felt the quality of Wiziq was very good.

What some of the others have been up to
Karen has been thinking about cultural competence in the online environment. She asks "How do we create ways of being together [online] that create authenticity and freedom?" I would be interested to see your thoughts about this on her blog post. Matt is very excited because his experiment of doing FO2010 on his mobile phone has been made easier by a new application - you'll have to go to his blog to find out what it is!

Hope you all have a great weekend. Looks like I am going to be making the most of the lovely weather here in Dunedin and getting on with some gardening. Sarah :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October 11th Evaluating and reflecting on an event

An important element of online facilitation is the evaluation of your event, project, meeting or learning activity both in terms of the outcomes of the event and your own performance. There is usually two parts to this process: self-assessment and reflection, and evaluation by participants. The results of your reflections and evaluation will act as a foundation for your planning of future activities. Questions you may wish to ask.
  • What went well, and what did not go so well?
  • What did the participants and the facilitator learn?
  • How was the event organised and promoted?
  • How adequate and relevant was the information about the event/activity?
  • Was technical support provided, and how adequate was it?
  • How relevant the meeting/activity/event for the audience and participants?
  • How was the event managed? How effective was the handling of disruptions?
  • Did all participants know where they were supposed to be and when?
  • How was the facilitation?
    • How was the stage set and participants welcomed, introductions made, aims explained?
    • Did the facilitator remain neutral and how did he deal with conflict or cultural differences?
    • How was the event concluded and outcomes summarised? What recordings and follow up materials were provided?
  • How should things be done in the future?


Join the virtual class meeting in WiziQ - Tuesday 12th October 9am New Zealand time (World Clock). Dr Nellie Deutsch will be joining us to talk about evaluation strategies. Nellie is an expert in facilitating and designing online workshops on WikiEducator on how to use the wiki and collaborate, on IT4ALL Moodle on WebQuests, Moodle for Teachers (M4T), and Professional Electronic Portfolios (PEP), and in Blended Learning. She researched instructor experiences in implementing technology in blended learning courses in higher education. Nellie is also an expert user of WiziQ and will be passing on some tips on how to use it effectively. This session will be facilitated by Kim McLean.

  • WiziQ is another free tool you may be interested in if you are a business or non-profit organisation. Information about how to use WiziQ can be found here.

1. Bronwyn Hegarty has developed a framework that supports personal reflection. Read about the Hegarty Reflective Framework and Template and listen to the recording of an Elluminate presentation Bronwyn gave about how to use this reflective framework for evaluating your online facilitation. This recording is also available as a mp3.
2. Read this guide to survey design by SurveyMonkey: Smart Survey Design.
3. You may wish to reflect on your experience of using WiziQ in your blog, and compare it with all the web conferencing tools you have used over the last few weeks.

  • What worked well?
  • What did not go so well?
  • What skills or resources do you need to network and facilitate meetings using WiziQ?
  • How do you see yourself using WiziQ in the future, if at all, for online facilitation?
  • How does WiziQ compare with DimDim, Skype and Elluminate? What will your preferred web conference tool be in the future and why?

Image: 'espejo'

What we've been up to over the last two weeks

I wasn't going to write a summary post for the last two weeks because to be honest, I was quite enjoying our little break. But a few people have been taking advantage of the break and catching up with things, such as Karen who has been fighting computer gremlins but looks like she's winning :)

A few of us had another play with the free version of DimDim. I was very impressed with how supportive the support team has been - I have had a couple of telephone chats with Noor in India. However, I am disappointed to see that DimDim's functions appear to have changed from the last time I used it - it appears that only the meeting organiser can use the audio function which means you can only have a one-way conversation. Nevertheless, Karen has a suggestion about how that problem can be overcome.

Second Life
A small group of us also had a little look around Second Life. Tracy really enjoyed her visit and found it to be much more fun than when she looked around SL by herself.

Footnote: It is free to have a SL avatar and go into SL, but you have to pay for land. Linden Lab, the company who owns SL has just announced they are putting up their prices for educators and non-profits. This may have the effect of driving communities to other virtual worlds such as OpenSim. So, if you are interested in using virtual worlds for online facilitation, it may be worth your while having a look at other options to Second Life.

Catching up
Karen Wilson has been reflecting on how much more difficult it is to be culturally competent online compared to face-to-face when you have visual cues to guide you. Sharon is getting her head around Twitter and found an excellent resource to guide your thinking about online communication tools. Willie has been thinking about Web 3.0. Jean has been exploring ideas about online learning. Sebastion has been catching up with recordings of sessions and reflecting on what it means to be an online facilitator. Katherine has been hanging out with Steve Wheeler, who is one of my 'heros' I am feeling pretty jealous of her. At the same time, I was intrigued by her reaction to the session that Steve ran at a conference she attended.

Mini conference
Mark has been thinking about the mini conference and has written some great reflective questions you might want to use to help you with your planning. Tania has a VoiceThread conversation on her blog - please go along and contribute for two reasons. Firstly, it will add to the learning of the young student who has put this VoiceThread together. Secondly, it will give you an idea about a communication tool you may wish to use for your event...especially if you are thinking about facilitating an asynchronous event.

Look forward to catching up with you all next week as we enter the final section of FO2010 and start preparing for the mini conference. Sarah :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

WizIQ preparation

In preparation for next weeks session in WizIQ Sarah and I have been playing around (testing) in WizIQ classroom.

You will find the platform a little different to Elluminate although many features are similar they are just in different places or have different access.

Audio (speaking), write (writing on whiteboard) and video control must be provided to you by the facilitator/moderator (which in WizIQ are referred to as 'teachers'). You are able to request this access by clicking on the icons next to your name, and the facilitator will allow access.

You will need to join WizIQ with a minimum of your name and email address then you choose a password, which only takes a few moments. Once you are a 'learner' you can add as much or little information about yourself, you can also choose to become a 'teacher' to use WizIQ for future sessions. There is no cost however you can choose to upgrade to Premium package.

You can get a feel for WizIQ by taking a look at the You Tube clips on the course Wiki under Resources - How to use WizIQ.

System Requirements

In preparation for the session you are able to conduct system configuration and device tests or you can simply prepare to arrive a few minutes earlier for Tuesday's session to conduct the tests then (allow at least 5 mins to check things out and troubleshoot if something is not working). I will be available via email 15 mins prior to commencement of session but the class will not become visible until the commencement time.

Minimum system requirements are...for audio only=512 kbps, for video and audio=1mbps. NB:you will not be required to be viewed via webcam so audio is only neccessary.

If you use Wifi you will find the audio cuts in and out, I suggest you connect to a port if possible just for this session to achieve optimal audio.

Also for optimal audio results it is preferred to use a headset with a mic, to ensure there are no echo issues.

Supported web browsers for WizIQ .... Internet Explorer 6, Mozilla firefox 3.5, Google Chrome and for Macs ... Safari.

Launching the class

To launch simply click on Orange button.

You are able to conduct the system check before you enter the class by clicking on link below 'launch class'.

When you have launched the session you will see a privacy box that requests access to your camera and mic. which you will need to click 'Allow' for access. As mentioned the session will not become visible until right on time, you will see a countdown to start time.

Communication during the session

You will find we can communicate as we normally do in Elluminate,there is a chatbox to type your comments and also some fun emoticons to use. You can send messages to individuals via chat or to 'All'.

Back-up plan

As always the back up plan will be our usual Elluminate room just in case there are any major access problems for the group to WizIQ. We will communicate this to you at the time if required.

I am really excited about facilitating in WizIQ and I look forward to speaking to you all on Tuesday. Nellie will offer some great insight into evaluation and reflection from her vast experience as a facilitator aswell as having an amazing technical expertise in using WizIQ.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chances to practice facilitating online meetings in Elluminate

Here are a couple of opportunities to practice your online facilitation skills in Elluminate. If you're nervous about doing it on your own, let me know and I'll "support" you. Sarah

World OT Day
The World OT Day is 24 hours of sessions on the 27th October. This event runs around the 24 hour world clock so there should be a time zone that suits you where ever you are in the world. Please contact Merrolee Penman for more details:
Open access week
The other opportunity is Open Access Week which runs from the 18th - 22nd October. The sessions are at lunch time, New Zealand time. Please contact Wayne Mackintosh if you'd like to volunteer to facilitate one of these sessions:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Road trip into Second Life

I will be hosting a road trip to Second Life on Thursday 7th October 17.00 hours NZ time (World Clock). If you are interested in joining me, please set up your avatar and download Second Life onto your computer - more information can be found here.

Once you have your avatar name, please let me know what it is. My SL name is: Petal Stransky.

Please go to the Virtual Birth Unit in SL to meet me:

If you don't think you can manage that, please accept my offer to be your friend, then I'll be able to teleport you to my location. If that all fails, keep in touch with me on Skype and I'll talk you through what you have to do. Hope to see you on Thursday Sarah :)

How to get started in Second Life

In order to access Second Life, you need to do two things.

The first thing is to set up an account and develop your avatar. There are heaps of videos on YouTube that will help you work your way through this process such as this one.

The next thing you need to do is download Second Life onto your computer. Second Life is a complex platform that uses a lot of internet band width and specific computer hardware, so it is worth checking first that you have a computer that will support SL.

Here is a guidebook that will help you learn the basics about SL. Another place that is full of fantastic information about Second Life is the Jokaydia wiki.

I think the key to finding your way in SL is to network with people who use it a lot. Here are a few SL communities - please let me know if you across others.