Sunday, March 27, 2011

Women and their shoes

Another week, another reflection in the Facilitating Online course. This week I have to think about:

What is an online community and an online network? What is the difference between the two?

An online community has a sense of belongings. You belong to an online community when you share values and interests with other members. It is why I have already seen members in a community being asked to leave the community as their views had shifted from the rest of the group.

An online network however, does not have such strong boundaries. You can use an online network because you have the same interests without sharing the same values.

In saying that, I think you learn from both online community and online network equally depending your commitment.

What online communities and networks have you been a member of? How did they work? Was there a facilitator? What was his/her role?

I use Twitter a lot, especially to learn from language teachers and teachers who use eLearning in their classroom. Is it an online community? Not really as different members have different rules and boundaries. Let’s say that if I upset some members I won’t be asked to leave Twitter as my behaviour might be acceptable for other members. As you know there is no facilitator on twitter.

I use Facebook but only to communicate with my friends and family, so it is not a learning network per se. (for me, but it can be for other teachers).

I use Google reader to learn from what people have written in their blog. This is not a community at all as I am the only one collecting what I want to read.

How would you utilise the Salmon model of facilitation in your own context?
What I need to do is to put myself in my students shoes first. They have never participated to online learning so I have to be careful by not assuming they know stuff they actually do not know. I need to scaffold each step in order to make them grow and embrace the technology. I would them to see realise that they do not need all the time to learn French. The internet is packed with good and bad resources and they need to learn how to make decisions to realise what is valuable and what is a waste of time.
I would like to see them collaborating online within their class but also with other French students

I think that the main role of an online facilitator would be then to work on Stage 2 - Socialisation. It is the “scaffolding” stage where a facilitator builds the bridges for each students as each students’ needs are different.
For me the Stage 3-Information Exchange represents the students’s collaboration during which each student brings their own knowledge and their own skills and share them with the rest of the group.
And at last the last Stage-Development symbolises when students are confident in their own skills they have acquire during the course and are now capable and willing to explore other horizons and why not create an online network or an online community of their own.

What facilitation "shoes" do you wear now? What shoes would you like to wear in the future? What do you need to do to have the skills that Hootstein talks about?

Right now I am barefoot !!!

I hope I am wearing the second pair of shoes as I have always tried as a teacher to create a collaborative environment in my class, but as my class has not started their online course yet, I am not wearing those shoes :-(
I also hope that I am usually wearing the fourth pair of shoes as I can help my students with technical issues. But once again as the course has not started yet I still can feel the grass between my toes :-)

I would like to wear the first, second and third pair of shoes:

-Instructor: consultant, guide, and resource provider
-Social director: creator of collaborative environments
-Technical assistant: model of proficiency

I actually think I have the skills required, however what I know is that I do not have the skills to wear the third pair of shoes which are “Program manager: director of the agenda” as I am very bad at admin stuff. I suppose it is where I will need to make a giant effort and start getting organised. But when I read a bit below in the paragraph, I think this is what a teacher does in her class especially when Hootsein writes “...can provide introductory information, describe learning activities and resource materials, and provide additional information about course components or procedures.” This what I do all the time in my class as my students need to know where they are going, they need to know what they are going to learn and what is needed in order to achieve.

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  1. To my mind, it's the design of a online course that is so important...the instruction, scaffolding, & socialisation. Do you have any particular resource that you find useful to support online course design, that you can recommend to the rest of us?

  2. I cannot say that I can recommend what I am using as I am not sure if it is good. I think I will start teaching next Term. So far I am building my course on a Wikispace. I found Wikis very easy to use and very flexible if you change your mind :-) My students will also use Myportfolio to put their creation on and the class will follow an online classroom once a week on Adobe Pro Connect. this year will be a bit special as I will teach my own class, so they can see each other everyday and they can discuss concerns. I suppose I will have to think about an online space where students will need to meet to discuss.