Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Final Post for FOC_09

I found it really interesting to actually go back and read some of our comments on all the posts-gosh- we were quite busy weren’t we….. I have just read Hervé’s final post and it inspired me, as I too will make the effort to continue to read the summaries and the recordings… and hopefully keep up the contacts. Only problem now is-how to summarize it all a few sentences?

Online Community: All I can say is: ‘you get out of it what you put in’. We ended up as a community but started as a network. We got to know each other a bit better as we became a community…because we had to work together on common projects. I wrote my posts here in two parts, because at the time I felt like I had ‘fallen of the rails’…in terms of participation. A community certainly works better when it is facilitated, (or prompted by a shared need), if the ‘need’ is there, it will flow. Choice of the channel of communication is important- participants need to have access, and be confident with the technology. Trouble is with all the web 2.0 connections- how do we keep track-I still think “all this” is heady stuff…..The idea of a social contextualiser- wow- that we need to be reminded of who we "know"- ""because "this" is making us crazy"".

Facilitating/Moderating/Teaching: There was a huge amount of commentary around this topic- especially relevant to me was the blurring of the roles and whether the facilitator can be a participant (or do they have to have different hats). I still think the meanings depend on the context of the learning situation and the formality- a ""teacher can ‘facilitate’ our learning by guiding us…""to quote a part of this post (again)-… Sometimes you just have to tell (them-to teach). Other times, suggest and explore (facilitate their learning)..."

Discussion Forums: I wrote so much here :-( I think the secret to keeping discussion forums ‘alive’ is to have regular contributors (which may or may not be the moderators) and to have some sort of RSS feed going to make it easy to contribute. Forum posting are usually not as detailed as reflective blog posts. Forums tend to be more synchronous, with less time between posts. Perhaps that’s why Twitter is popular- fast and simple; don’t need to think too much…

Blog Networks: At the beginning of the course, we were experimenting with the uses for the different platforms. I now understand that the secret is ‘filtering the information’ and gauging the ‘context’. Micro-blogging (Twitter) is becoming more popular-but it’s hard work to keep the connections going…you need to take the time to build a PLN and have a way of keeping up with the information- commitment and focus…...But it’s also a skill to be a reflective writer. Networks will change focus as people drop in and out and needs change.

Wiki Collaborators:
This part of the course was a bit challenging-the Wiki has been the hardest platform to get our heads around, but it was good to dissect them and find out what goes on behind the scenes-the community is in the discussion page. I can now appreciate how much effort goes into the community aspect.

Virtual Worlds: I didn’t make a posting here, so there is no link (only a virtual one). But I loved reading Stephen’s post, and some of my experiences mirrored his. I made an avatar- got into second life twice, but missed the meetings with Sarah for a couple of reasons:
1. Did not have the right hardware at home (for the evening sessions)- and have now since brought a laptop, so no excuse I guess.
2. Getting into the Computer lab here at UCOL where it was loaded was restricted to times when students where not using it. Heather and I managed to set up one session, but spent 45 mins with our IT helpdesk trying to get the updates loaded, so we missed Sarah- we ‘text chatted’ to her in 2nd Life but couldn’t ‘meet’ properly. When I did ‘get in’, later on that morning, my only solid experience apart from fling all over the place, was ‘meeting’ another educator from the US but she got a bit bored with our antics, so she disappeared. Obviously she knew I was a novice!!!! Again, the technology overwhelmed me and I ran…My avatar looks quite cute though- so I suspect a bit of “voyeurism” comes out in us all when creating our avatars…..I attended a really good presentation session from the eFEST about the foundation learning unit (click here) and my comments would be that since the learning curve is so steep, and the technology drain so huge, this is the one time where SUPPORT and extreme FACILITATION would be needed, and I am sorry that I missed the FOC_09 sessions. Again, though there is a huge amount of support and information out there, it’s a case of needing a reason and making a commitment- perhaps more than the other networking platforms. However, I think that the same excuses for non-participation would be relevant in 2nd life as in our First Life!! I know who to call when I want to have another go though.

Social Networking Platforms: I didn’t make an official post under this heading either, but I think everyone is familiar with my social platform with NING- what a journey - with 17 members. I had never used a social platform before like this. I confess though, that I was encouraged via the eFEST NING. However, when I was planning what to do with it in my event, I misunderstood the purpose and thought it worked more like a WIKI. One of the disadvantages with the NING was that I missed some posts because I must have switched off the “email notification”….I joined the site , and enjoyed the experience, but haven’t gone back. Did we have a purpose for it? Thank you to Hervé for his valuable contributions on Security. Why use Social Networking Platforms in Education? – to gather in people and engage them for a defined purpose/for a certain period of time perhaps?

Reflecting on the different types of Online Communities:
•Choosing the right platform for the purpose of the group is important.
•Having some sort of familiar ‘background’ helps- e.g a community of practice.
•Social communities can be less intimidating than ‘professional’ ones…so if we can be clever, combine the two.
•Based on others people’s comments on this course, the importance of having a PLN are becoming increasingly obvious.
•Like other channels of communication, it’s good to be familiar with more than one. That way the connections that you make are more likely to work if you are use the preferred channel of other participants
•Prioritise, prioritise and allow time to ‘play’ so you understand the differences.

Feedback on the Course: The course has been a really full-on journey, and if I had written this post one week ago- it might have been written differently. But having had some time now to recover from the hectic planning and participating in most of the mini-events, where I felt totally overwhelmed at times, (flat tack at work as well), I have now ‘rested’ for a week or so, and I feel better about my overall level of contribution after refreshing my memory of all the Blog Contributions here. I think we discussed the level of participation and the regularity of posting the weekly tasks on our final Online meeting, its always going to be hard to fit everything in, and lapses are a regular occurrence with our own students- so why should we as learners be any different? So -well done Sarah, for picking up the course and keeping it going after Leigh. I can’t help but wonder if we would have all been able to keep up with him anyway? Yes, it was a challenge, both technically and personally (time wise), but worth it in the end. The synchronous meeting events were always a surprise, we got a range of perspectives each time as we all participated at different sessions, and that was great. I hated the time I spent sorting out Elluminate, as it wasn’t kind to us at UCOL. I prefer the WikiEducator to Wikiversity- but can’t really quantify that. Maybe it was the ‘editing behind the scenes? In terms of doing something better- it would have been spending more time reading peoples Blogs. The recommend 5-6 hours a week is on the low side. I also think we relied on the FOC-09 Google email too much for communication- and not on the Course Wiki- or Course Blog- or was that just throw-back from time limitations towards the end? I think with a course like this- it would be different every time it is run, depending on who participated. In the beginning I got a bit hung up on separating the informal participants vs. the formal participants, so it was neat to see Chris and Wille hanging in there at the end!!!! Thank you all for your contributions. I really don’t know if I could recommend anyone else as a facilitator for next time- so hopefully Sarah will take it on…I would be tempted to sign up again, just for the experience of keeping a network going.
Thanks All.


Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Debra

thank you so much for your kind words. I had a ball with this course. I learned heaps from you guys, learned about facilitation and just had heaps of fun! :) I have been blown away by how supportive you all have been and how you've come together over the last few weeks as a community. I do hope this continues in one way or another next year.

Thank you for all your hard work, support to the others, and contributions. You were one of the key stones of this course and I really appreciate all your efforts.

Have a fabulous Christmas, Sarah

Rose said...

Hi Debra,
I agree wholeheartedly with you on your comment that ‘you get out of it what you put in’. I made an almost identical comment on my blog. I wish I could go back to the beginning of the course and contribute more myself. I felt you made a huge contribution to the community.

Thanks Rosanne

Sarah Stewart said...

I think the challenge for you all now is to think how you'll continue your personal learning and continue (or not as the case may be) your networking/community development with the other people on this course....thinking about whether you'll continue with your blogs, start up Twitter accounts etc :)

willie campbell said...

well indeed.
I have hung on in as an informal student becuase of the learning for me.
I have appreciated your insights and critical thinking around your work. I have NOT appreciated the black background of your material- find it very challenging visually.