Monday, July 25, 2011

Facilitating Online- Last assessment

It is the end of the online facilitating course I have been doing for teh last two terms. It is the end of a journey I have very much enjoyed. Last week I hosted a mini event online. Here are my reflections about it following the question/ criteria asked from my course.

What went well, and what did not go so well
I thought it actually went quite well overall. I was quite relaxed and I was very happy that my mentor Rachel was here to support me if needed. I actually needed to have Rachel stepping in at one point when I asked the participants to click on a link in order to watch a Common Craft video about RSS Feed. I didn’t know that the audience could not see exactly what I could see as a host. Rachel dragged the Weblinks Box where everybody could see it. I was also quite happy that I was able to switch between boxes quite fast and that I could use the full screen option in such a way that it did not slow down the event.
How the event was organised and promoted
The event for promoted within our small community of Virtual Professional and Leadership Development. This was done by Rachel Roberts during our last online meeting, our last F2F meeting and in a virtual newsletter. So a lot of people knew this session was on. Participants had to RSVP their participation to the event in the Ning used by this community.
All the information needed to access the event was done perfectly. Each participant knew the phone number to dial in order to get the audio for the event.
support (technical and access)
One of the first participant entering the room was not sure which number to dial in order to get the audio. Using the chat box I pointed out to this person where to find all the information needed. After my explanation s/he managed to have the audio and was able to participate to the event.
relevant for the audience
I actually think that the session was relevant for the participants because each one of them asked question during the event which shows that they were involved and engaged.
Whether the event was managed and conducted smoothly - particularly noting how you handled any disruptions.
As I said earlier, I am happy with my speed going from one box to the other and using efficiently the full screen option. Unfortunately I needed help to show the audience the Weblinks box.
What efforts you made to ensure that all participants knew where they were supposed to be and when, and arrange technical support for people?
I used the chat box constantly to see if each participant knew what we were doing and I also asked them on the phone (audio) if what we were doing made sense. I had also prepared the room during the day to have everything set up in order to run the event smoothly.
How you set the stage, made introductions, explained the aims, and whether you managed to remain neutral and facilitatory
Rachel and I have set up the room during the day to have all the boxes we needed at hand and we also have spent some time to check that the video we wanted the participants to see was working well. We decided to send the audience directly on the internet and ask them to mute their phone as the internet connection was way too slow. In all this little trick worked perfectly and everybody enjoyed the video. This is something I could do next time.
As I was very prepared and that I had notes next to me it seems to me that I gave clear instructions.
How you did a round up, drew closure and indicated where recordings and other follow up materials would be made available.
As I was co hosting, Rachel took it over for the round up. She asked the participants to think about who could take next session. She also made the recording of the session and said that the next day it will be in our community ning.
Feedback from audience?
The participants seemed happy as they thanked us and asked a lot of question.
How you would do things in the future?
I think that next time, I will take time preparing the room as we did this time. It was quite good to have already everything handy. I also feel more confident as I have learned a lot of tips. I would be quite happy next time to do the recording myself as another challenge.
General comments and additions
I was very lucky to have Rachel with me as it was like being an acrobat with a safety net. I felt very secure as Rachel was here to catch me in case I needed help. For my first time as an online facilitator it was a very good idea.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Have you seen Learning? I am looking for it

I have just typed in Goole search “what is learning?” and a post from G Siemens came up on the first page. Although the post is quite old, 2005, I quite like the definition given of “learning”.

But my reflection today is where is the learning happening.

I am a teacher and I love my job but when I ask students why they come to school and that they answer “to learn” I disagree strongly. Students do not need to be at school to learn at all.
I think that technology can bring the learning anywhere, for example right now in my lounge with my laptop looking at my husband in the kitchen preparing dinner -Yummy tonight it is lamb from the garden=)

Yes technology can play an important role in bringing learning where I want but it is not the technology which is important, it is the networking of people. I am learning right now not thanks to technology but thanks to people who have used technology to put their thoughts and their own learning online. If they had not, my computer in itself would be useless. People are making my learning possible, even if it is by distance or virtually as I have not met the people I am learning from. This is formidable for me as I live far away from anything and I can learn anything from the comfort of my little house in the prairie.

So in other words, Learning has no border. So I do not need to be in a particular place to do great learning, but what I need is to know how and where to get my learning and most of all I need to have the will of learning. If I do not want to learn, wherever I am or what ever great technology I have I will not be learning.

I am the seeker of my own learning. I decide what ever I want to learn. For example, my husband and I have learned how to look after a small farm (animals, plants, gardens etc..) without prior knowledge. The only thing we knew and had was the will of learning (making it work) and the knowledge on where and how to find knowledge. As I have a degree one could think that I got those skills from school but as my husband has not had a good school experience it is definitely not behind the walls of a classroom that he has acquired those skills.

The question I have now , as a teacher is how to pass the love of learning to my students. I think teaching how/where finding knowledge is quite easy (tutorials in class on how to do a good web search is easily achievable) but how can I give my love of learning to my students ?

I need now to reflect a bit longer, I need to digest my own thoughts and in one of my next post I will think about “what is the point of school then?”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Planning my mini event

I already have written a post about planning my mini event but I needed to write a bit more. Here are my other thoughts about facilitating an event online

how online communication tools can be used to facilitate online;

During one of the illuminate session we had during this course, I have learned that the word facilitate come from the French word “facile” which means easy. I know I should be ashamed of myself not realising it earlier, but better late than ever. So Facilitating means making things easy. When you speak about online facilitating you obviously want to use online tools to make things easy. In order to help the majority of participants I will need to use different tools as varied as possible in order to cater for the different learning types.

You can use Youtube for example as it is a great source of fantastic videos which can support the message you want to pass. For my mini event I intend to show a video from Common Craft which explains without jargon what is a RSS Feed as I will host a hot session about RSS Feed and Diigo.

You can use online surveys before, during ad after a mini event to see what are the needs of your audience and check their feedback. You can use the chat backchannel of Twitter or the one which comes within your virtual room ( as I will be using Adobe Connect Pro I intend to use the chat box to check on the participants at all times). Thus, the host can answer any questions raised or can include/ make feel valued any participants.

Other tools could range from nings, social networks, youtube, emails, social bookmarks.

the process of facilitating an online event.

For my mini event I had two roles. The one of a host and the one of a presenter. Rachel Roberts, my mentor was kind enough to give me a lot of help before the mini event. She spent one hour on the day prior the event, to go through all tips and tricks about Adobe and the virtual room and reminded me to check constantly the chat box. She also looked at my presentation and we checked the video I wanted to show was working well.

We decided to not only use Adobe Connect Pro but also use phones for audio as a lot of schools have a very slow internet connection. This is something that it is vital to keep in mind as in NZ and around the world there are still a lot of people with low internet connection.

I need to point out here that as the mini event was taking place in the closed community I did not need to advertise it in the wide world.