Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reflection of the different facets of online communities

What is an online community? For me it is many things and I am now finding it difficult to comment on this without overstepping into the realms of the other topics. This online community has been a mixture of Etienne Wenger’s community of practice, Downe’s networks, Dunbar’s groups and Tonnie’s theoretical framework of the purpose and function of a community. The difference being that the location was online in/on/via many different platforms. I have met, peers, colleagues and friends via this course and like Debra M and Hervè, I will be keeping an eye on FOC10. I feel that a bond has developed within the community and feel honoured to have experienced this course with this particular group of individuals.

Facilitating, moderating, or teaching. Now this one flummoxed me and I thought that it was the red herring to encourage engaged debate. I did haunt me though, even when I was ‘facilitating’ my online session the little voice inside my head was chanting Debra - facilitate, facilitate, facilitate! I posed the question to one of the presenters in an online session, conducted an e-interview with someone who helps moderate (her term) a very active discussion forum. It appears that we all have different views. My view is that they are all skills needed to participate in an online community or to run an online event. We have to do a bit of teaching/facilitating as we assist attendees to the session or newcomers to the forum to navigate the technology of choice. Moderating was the most clear cut for me as it has connotations of power. Interestingly the discussion forum interviewee perceived a facilitator as holding the power.

Discussion forums. I consider myself to be an establish forum participant. I was the medium of choice when I sought advice regarding my move to NZ. I recall being in the lurking phase for a very long time but once I took the plunge it was plain sailing. I would join another discussion forum for advice, I guess this relates to the subject – object debate and crosses over into the realms of networking. On reflection the object focus of the forum is maybe it was so successful for me. I use the discussion forum on the CPIT Moodle site, again this object focused as it was developed for a Metrogroup collaboration. Does this mean that I am an objectionist?

Blog networks. The only blog network I have used is this one. I have found it very helpful in maintaining the online community and I have learned a lot from reading the posts of my peers. I did have a bit of a wobble part way through the course as my workload picked up and my posting intentions suffered. This has also been useful for me when reflecting as I can see how my thoughts have changed over time and through the use of the blogging network. A great way to share links to resources as well as thoughts and feelings.

Wiki collaborators. I struggled with this which is annoying because I want to use them in my work. I found the user interface demanding and I guess this is because other platforms are so user friendly. I can use a wiki, I just need to discipline myself to get into using the html codes. I have two pages in wikieducator that I haven’t quite completed.

Virtual Worlds. I loved this and it’s part of the reason for not blogging as much as I should have. I found it totally engaging. I was disappointed to miss Sarah’s session but very grateful to bump into her on second life and have a tour around the birthing unit. Dr Scott Diener gave a presentation on second life at Ascilite 2009. Interestingly, one of the questions from the participants was along the lines of ‘but if second life is so good, why have you built a lecture theatre?’ Loved his response – it’s what people in education relate to so that’s a good starting point. Having said all that, second life does have its limitations, it requires an advanced computer system. My laptop is a few years old and so the background takes a while to load up. If I was to use it for educational purposes, I would need to ensure that it is accessible for all. Fantastic potential.

Social networking platforms. Here I dove in to the deep end. In 2009 I joined NING; Dim Dim; Cloudworks; LinkedIN; GRO.UPS; Second life; twitter; friends reunited (again). I have been on Facebook for a couple of years now so that is my choice of platform. I find it confusing to have all the various platforms on the go. I am giving twitter a good try and will keep up to speed with Facebook as that’s my man channel of communication with my family around the world. I take note of Herve and Krishnan’s words of caution, I am cautious/suspicious so I do not have full personal details up and only use the basic functions in Facebook as it serves my purpose.

Reflecting on the different kinds of online communities. I guess that this in integrated into the above I will travel between the dichotomies of subject versus object based communities as it suits my needs. This is the beginning of my journey.

Facilitate an event for the course mini conference. What a learning curve this was, it included the good, the bad and the ugly. Like Catherine, it was probably one of the highlights of the course and I enjoyed it even though it did go pear shared in the middle.

Evaluate the facilitation of an online event. I used Bronwyn Hegarty’s framework which I found very useful. I now have clear ideas of what my nest online session will be like. I would do it very differently but it’s all learning so nothing can be taken for granted. The cats out of the bag and it ain’t going back in.

The course overall

It was hard work, time consuming, and challenging as others have noted in their blogs but you get out of it what you put in. I feel as though I have got a great deal out of this learning experience. I enjoyed attending the online sessions, thank you colleagues. I felt frustrated when I couldn’t access Skype at work or had forgotten to bring my microphone home with me so text was the limited mode of participation. But it has given me the authentic experience of being an online student and some valuable learning that I will share, hopefully for the benefit of students. Sarah, you have been a great role model. I think an online session at the beginning of 2010 might the graduates of FOC09 might be in order to share some of our experiences. As James Clay said at Ascilite, technologies are changing and so is learning.

Step 3 - Take Action

Reflect on what you learned and how you will use this

What did I learn and Why?


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I learned that not all platforms are the same. I am quite comfortable with elluminate having used it through this course and observed other s use it for their presentations. I learned that the wimba classroom was too basic for my needs; its limitations had an impact on my session. I learned that the sharing applications function was my nemesis. I learned that the recording function did not record all the activity in the session. I could only see who attended by their contribution in the text area. The ‘Room pulse’ participant activity area does not record activity so I was unable to archive my facilitation skills in terms to responding to raised hands, ticks, crosses or emoticons. This meant that the two mexican waves were not recorded either and I was very proud of those.


I learned that I am able to engage participants in an online environment. I learned that I coped in a crisis, when times got tough and things started to go awry, I acted fast to continue to facilitate the session. I think that I successfully facilitated the session in that I engaged with all the participants, guided questions and prompted responses from the presenters. I acted on signals from the text box, the symbols and audio streams. I very much enjoyed the experience, even thought it was stressful in parts. I have gained a deeper understanding and experience of being a facilitator and can share this with my peers in an attempt to support them through their first steps too.

How will I use this experience?
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This is the beginning of my online journey as a facilitator, I have participated in various online forums but now it’s time to step up to the mark and put into practice my learning and experience from this paper. In my role, I will attempt to model effective practice in flexible delivery via the medium of online learning which inevitably will involve facilitating an online community.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Step 2 Analyse the Experience

Implications of your decisions, actions, reactions


It was my decision to control the resources used. I did this as I thought as facilitator, it was part of my role. I uploaded them to eMIT so that I had control should we need to change to elluminate. After all this was my assessment. I wanted to share the applications with the presenters but was advised that I should have access. It was my decision to put the new platform to the test. It was my decision to showcase the interactive flash resources.

What happened and why?

The introductions went smoothly I welcomed everyone. The microphone was a bit tricky as I needed to hold the button down which meant that I couldn’t change the powerpoint slides without turning the microphone off. So there were gaps in the audio when I changed slides. At precisely 23.39 minutes in it all started to happen. The second presenter lost audio. The screen was staggered when loading as demonstrated in the image above. The sharing application facility resulted in six screens appearing on the archive yet only one on my screen during the session.

Google image (Sound)
 When I listened back to the recording, it is evident that there was a delay between me clicking on the talk button and the audio coming through. The beginning of some of my words/sentences were inaudible on the recording. When playing back the session from the archive, some of the visuals were lost. I could see the presentation and although some took time to load they were visible.                                                                     

What could I have done better?
The resources could have been loaded onto the platform so the presenters could control the slides from the platform. Maybe I should have had an internal and external run through to test the bandwidth and speed demands. Maybe I should have run the full session, recorded it and played it back to check the audio etc. If I had done this I would have realised the difficulties involved and the limitations of the platform.

Did my actions and decisions help or hinder?
On reflection some of my decisions hindered the smooth running of the session. I had to set up the sharing applications facility several times as the screen shot shows. Other decisions helped, I gave my headset to one of the presenters when his failed. However, this left me with a dilemma, I had to take someone else’s place to be able to facilitate. This meant taking the place of one of the other presenters. At one point, when I was attempting to reinstate the application sharing and the system or platform really slowed, I asked the participants to continue their discussion. In an attempt to keep morale high I arranged a Mexican wave of smiley faces, which went down well.

What did others do and why?

You may recall that Lisa (one of the presenters) is the trainer for Wimba create. Lisa sprung into action when things started to go awry. I think that this was a natural reaction for her. It was a test of nerves for me, I felt that I should have been rectifying the situation. This meant that Lisa used my log in to rectify problems and I used her log in to continue the communication. The participants helped me greatly in maintaining the momentum through the use of the text box. I can only assume that this was because they felt comfortable enough to be able to continue. All supported me in my hour of need.

What assumptions did I make and why?

I made the assumption that I was safe, I had the NZ trainer for the platform; I had two presenters who had great resources to share; I was using the platform that my employers had invested in for our flexible delivery. I assumed that I was among friends, I was. The FOC09 group knew exactly how I was feeling and was supportive. I made the assumption that the hard work had been completed in the preparation, how wrong I was. I made the assumption that the bandwidth and speed would accommodate my needs. I made the assumption that that the platform would meet my needs and the needs of the participants. I made the assumption that the participants could see and hear what I could.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Evaluation of my online event

I am going to use Bronwyn Hegarty’s 2007 reflective framework using the event as a critical incident.

Step 1: Take notice and describe the experience through a description of evidence

Background: I looked at last year’s sessions and what my colleagues were noting on the wiki as their topics. I had made my decision early but did not get around to putting it on the wiki until later. When there are so many of us conducting online sessions it is difficult to be different. I wanted to cover a topic that had not been covered by anyone else. I knew that due to workload my session would be towards the end of the semester so I ran the risk of people being online session weary. I also wanted to make it relevant to my work and to as many participants as possible. If it was a good session, I could use the recording for staff development later. When I saw Lisa Ransom extolling the virtues of the Wimba Classroom paired with the fact that she is the only accredited trainer in NZ I thought I have a winner. The selfish driver of using the event as a staff development tool lead me to invite Erle Harris and Cameron Hynes as presenters of their wonderful work with teaching staff at MIT. There you have it a double whammy – it could not fail – or could it?

Promotion of the event: I promoted the event on the wiki, without a date in the first instance as I wanted to get interest among the online community. I also ran two polls on my blog to gauge the availability of the FOC09 participants. I used the platform of choice, namely wimba create for the first wave of promotion. I sent a voice mail one week prior to the event. This was an event in itself. Three takes and I still wasn’t happy but I was in a hotel and it was late so it had to do. 24 hours prior to the event I sent a reminder out via the group email. This included all the necessary links to the platform and the details of plan B should wimba fail me. Fifteen minutes prior to the event I sent out another reminder. At the 24 hour reminder I promoted the event to people at MIT who I knew were early adopters of technology as I saw it as an opportunity for them to see what MIT had to offer regarding the platform.

Preparation for the event: I had three meetings planned with the presenters. The first to seek their participation. The second to map out the session and test the platform. The third to have a final run through. The first was successful, the second only part happened due to unforeseen circumstances (work commitments and sickness). Following this meeting a course was set up in eMIT (Blackboard at MIT ) to access the Wimba Classroom. Also all the facilitating online communities enrolled participants had access to emit. The third happened prior to the session, more prior than planned actually. I loaded the presentations in eMIT and prepared my powerpoint lead in and introductory slides. I duly ran through the testing of the resources to make sure that we had a seamless session.

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Participation: Fourteen people participated in the event, this included the presenters, participants from the facilitating online communities course and members of MIT staff from the wider invitation.

Reflection on feelings: How did I feel, prepared, unprepared, excited, nervous that no-one would turn up, anxious in case the discussion dried up. My back up plan was to ask people what they thought about the Ascilite conference as I know that some participants had attended.

Reflection on actions and decisions: Having access to the resources at MIT helped. They had a vested interest in the session being a success too as it could be used as a platform to engage more staff with the Learning Technology Centre. From Lisa’s perspective, this is the only accredited trainer in NZ so this could and would be a launch pad of her skills as a trainer and the qualities of the platform. Erle and Cameron both were showcasing their work. This was also a test of their skills and promotion of their tools. Having willing participants both from the course at within MIT helped. They had attended to see the new platform that they were encouraged to use in the quest to produce interactive sessions and provide flexible delivery. My perspective was to demonstrate my skills as a facilitator hence the need for active participants who are willing to get involved. It was my second assessment on the course and I naturally wanted to do well.

Social Networking Platforms

I am a member of the following social networking platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friends Reunited. I joined Ning to take part in Debra M’s online session.

Facebook: I was ‘allowed’ by my children to join only because I was moving to the other side of the planet and they were going travelling. They said it was a good way of keeping in touch. BUT, I was to be monitored and ‘had better not show them up’.

That was just over two years ago and I am regularly moderated. It allows me to see what they are up to, the good, the bad and the ugly.
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This works both ways as I use it to keep my mum in touch with what I’m up to. She has a computer but is not online so I load my pics up (14 albums to date) and someone else downloads them to a disc and takes them to her. My sister and nieces in Canada also have their own pages. It’s quite interesting, I found out that I am going to be a great aunt and that two of my family are moving house via Facebook. I have 49 friends, mainly family and ex colleagues in the UK.
I am very particular about who I allow full access to my pages. I do not make full use of all the paraphernalia that goes with Facebook as you need to allow external access to make use of them. I have mentioned this in previous posts, I am not comfortable sharing personal details online. I recall Herve having some words of wisdom about the dangers of putting too much information online too. A speaker at Ascilite this week made an interesting comment about the ego platforms versus the object platforms. I think it was Grainne Conole, she was pushing the cloudworks platform. Worth a look as it is described as a place to share, find and discuss learning and teaching ideas and experiences.

Friends Reunited, I was a member of this network before they started charging for the privilege and it was the place to be, I met up with my school friends and found out about events etc. I dropped my membership when they started charging, I joined again this year as it is free again now but there was very little chatter. I expect that Facebook has taken its place.

Ning: It’s early days yet, I do like the feel of it though as it is intuitive. I didn’t get to grips with GROU.PS or LinkedIn. I guess that I have been spoiled by Facebook. I have high expectations of a social network.

Online forum interview summary

I applied an asynchronous interview.

I have been a member of the forum since 2005 so was familiar with the type of personality of its users. It is a forum used by people wishing to migrate to New Zealand. Please refer back to my blog for details. The person I chose to interview was ‘Mother Bear’ we all have alter egos on the forum. Mine is hotpots being from Lancashire. I hadn’t been online for a while, after all the forum had served its purpose as I am now a permanent resident of New Zealand. Remember the Gesellschaft versus Gemeinschaft discussion way back in August? Anyway my Gesellschaft days were over and I hadn’t quite moved to the Gemeinschaft mode, not on this forum.

I contacted ‘Mother Bear’ to ask the following questions:
1. Please give your own definition of a:
1.1. Moderator
1.2. Facilitator
2. When might the role of a moderator undermine the role of a facilitator?
3. When might the role of a facilitator undermine the role of a teacher or moderator?
4. What are the skills required to carry out the different roles?
5. Do you think that the forum would benefit from facilitation services?

In summary:
The focus of the response was on the role of moderation as a policing role on the forum. Monitoring the activities and ensuring that the participants maintain netiquette. The role of facilitator was defined as the owner of the forum and the person of authority. This is quite different to my perceptions of moderation and facilitation. Once these definitions had been set the other responses were predictable in that the hierarchical relationship between the owner (facilitator), moderator and the participants.

The skills required for the roles aligned with many noted in our online discussion; tact, patience, ethical behaviour and an ability to deal with difficult or sensitive situations. Mother bear said that she didn’t see the need for facilitation services on such as small forum.
It is worth noting that this (small) forum has 27,165 Threads; 326,815 Posts, and 9,660 Members!

I have uploaded the original email and response to googledocs for your information should you wish to read the full response.

I also did the same for two other forums but did not receive a reply, I was going to be all studious and triangulate the responses. The jewel in the crown was to be someone who had taken over a forum but they when I went online to post my case, the forum was down again, still not up and running yet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mini conference topic

My topic for the mini conference is making the transition. I can only relate to my experience but when I underwent teacher training I learned learnt how to plan a lesson, set learning goals, assess learning, transfer of information, reflective practice, etc.etc. Then I was observed in teaching practice, three times. Graded against the criteria of engagement with the students: whether I interacted with each and everyone of them; how I interacted with each and everyone one of them. The assessment task, is it fair, valid and reliable. This was followed up through my portfolio of evidence via the copy of the marked assessment and my feedback to the student.

Now it’s not that long since I gained my teaching qualification 2001 in fact. I did have to meet extra criteria as the UK government needed teachers who could use ICT in their teaching practice. My point is what do we do to prepare the teachers of today? Some will be taught be tutors who make use of web 2 technologies. What about those who have been teaching a while and need to update themselves? How do they make the transition? Is that what we are doing on this programme?

I have a tripartite role at MIT: I have the creative and exciting role of staff development, programme development and quality assurance at the Institute. This means that I get to impact the student experience indirectly. Hence - my interest in ‘making the transition’.

I would like to facilitate an interactive Q & A session so I need you to think about some questions ‘prompts to stimulate discussion’. Bearing in mind that I am in facilitation mode and cannot participate in any other manner.

The results of the poll are that 9-10 or 11-12 NZ time on a Tuesday or Wednesday seems to be the favourite so I have produced another poll. To check your equivalent time use the world clock.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I don't want to be negative but I am confused by the application. I have managed to set up a page and begin a talk page. I even manged to talk to myself. Since then Rosanne, Hilary and Rosceli have posted comments or been in touch and I cannot work out how to communicate back on the talk page. I just seem to be going round in circles.

I didn't like having to put my birthdate in to join.
It is not intuitive for replying to posts, unless I have missed the vital button. I think I expected it to be as intuitive as facebook or blogger.
I guess I am used to applications that do not require the skills of HTML editing.

The application was intuitive in linking to facebook so I didn't have to load my picture.
clear tabs to the wiki and course blog.
Easy to link to the blog but I wouldn't have know if Leigh hadn't prompted us.
As Leigh says this is fresh and new so we can develop it as we see fit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Second Life

Hi Peeps,

I feel that I have seriously neglected the Community. The reason - none other than second life. Two reasons for my absence 1) I have been otherwise occupied by Dixie, my alter ego and 2) Second life takes so long to download the backgrounds etc that I can only access it from home hence the lack of engagement with my virtual colleagues in the virtual world.

So, for me, second life is a double edged sword, I love the thought of it and have made friends with people from around the globe (I have been able to converse in Spanish). The avatars have been very helpful in taking me for a tour of their favourite sites. I have been fascinated by the freedom of being able to manipulate my image. The downside has been the speed of the applications, I have found it very frustrating, the system at work cannot cope with it. A home, it slows down the wi fi - much to the annoyance of my husband.

So how will I use these new founds skills, I have not quite worked this one out yet. I have visited the education sites in second life but my timing must be out as no-one has ever been there. Not sure how I can use with students but I'll try to find a way.

How have you all found it?

Right on to Dim Dim

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The art of blogging

Well confession time, I thought that I knew what blogging was and I am learning all the time. In my mind: If you are willing to expose yourself and you thoughts/opinions/ideas to public scrutiny you must be a confident person. Either that or have a great ego. Not sure about facilitation of blogs though. Right that off my mind, let’s get on with blogging. Does that make me a hypocrite or egotistical?

There are some great blogs out there, I was introduced to edublog by a colleague but that was a few years ago and I didn’t have the confidence to join. The first time I blogged was for the Graduate Certificate in eLearning course Evaluation of Best Practice for eLearning. I have just read the Problogger article twitter versus blogging. I have not used twitter so cannot comment. I use Facebook though, there’s a story behind my memberships of Facebook. I was moving from the UK to NZ so my children who were travelling/at uni at the time ‘allowed’ me to set Facebook up so I could keep track on them and they could keep up to date with what I was up to. They made it quite clear that it was only because I was moving to the other side of the world! Does this mean that Blogging is an age thing? Take a look at this one grumpy old people I do notice that the last post was 2005, make up your own punchline. Here’s an interesting article, on blogspot, regarding the changing facebook demographics or perhaps you would be more drawn to pensionbook. Bloggapedia has a similar format to youtube so other people’s blogs are ranked for most popular and new blogs.

As I was surfing through the blogs and reading the articles, I noted that spamming cam up as a downside of blogging and found a link to a wiki site only see an example of the spam in the form of lots of links on the opening page. So is this price of blogging? It’s the wild, wild wiki link Sarah, unless it’s an intentional demonstration!

Ok, so having re-read this blog I feel as though I have a narrative style and wonder if I would have such a narrative on a discussion forum. I do not know my audience so I am writing to the unknown and this probably affects my tone. On a discussion forum I know who I am talking to, well not really but, there is that online community of shared interest feeling that gives me focus.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

online forums

Online forums: I am a member of several online forums. The one that I wish to share with you is I joined the forum in March 2007. This is another forum that I am a member of.

Before I go on to relate online forums to theory etc I just wanted to note that it has taken me three days to get the first paragraph done because every time I went to either forum to look for examples of posts to show you, I got distracted ;) in fact I ended up posting a reply and sending a pm to someone who was in my shoes as of three years ago. I just couldn’t help myself, I empathised with the post for help and that assistance was my initial motivation for joining the forum. Has this brought about the realisation that I have graduated from the ‘anonymous lurker’ to the ‘expert advisor’? Not that I have any delusions of being an expert, it just seemed a fitting term for the transition in this context.

So using the example that I have just given, where does this fit into Downe’s theory? Is it a group or network, or both? What about Ettienne’s Community of Practice? These are two online communities that I am a member of. I originally joined the forum for the reasons of: Common purpose – I wanted to get to NZ and tapped into those who had already made the journey both physically and psychological negotiating the barriers of NZIS and transferability of employment skills. Sounds like a good example of Putnam’s social capital mixed with Tonnies Gesellschaft (for those seeking advice) and Gemeinschaft (for those who are advising and/or moderating/facilitating the forum. It includes the same elements and dynamics as the sense of community outlined in 1986 by McMillan and Chavis only this is the 21st century version.

I have noticed that the same people access both forums. I have noticed that many of the people who gave me advice are still there giving other people advice. I can’t speak for anyone else but I feel that it meets Rheingold’s definition of a virtual community.

A cautionary note:
There was a third forum which has sadly closed now. It was where I got most of my help in 2006. Participation by the owner went dormant. Two moderators carried on and someone eventually took it over but people had moved over, this is when I became a member of the other two. There was also something else gong on, someone started spamming the site and some of the discussions, well lets just say that they didn’t conform to netiquette.

I might try and interview the person who took over the forum………..more to follow……….

Monday, August 24, 2009


Leigh’s article written in 2007 discusses the dichotomy of teacher v facilitator with no mention of moderator. I wonder two years down the track whether Leigh has changed any of his views.

The Australian Network guidelines for effective online facilitation do make reference to moderating but it is the participants moderating each other as a measure of success. Kenshal-Bell (2001) identifies three sets of skills necessary for success. These are technical, facilitation and managerial skills essential for the changing and challenging role of the teacher in online learning. The same article names many others who have identified attributes and skills that build on the attributes and skills of a face to face teacher. It also distinguishes between and identifies challenges both for the facilitation of online learning and the facilitation of online communities. In the same article Hootstein (2002) identifies the four moderation roles of instructor, social director, programme manager and technical assistant. These are not progressive roles, but interchangeable roles that moderators adopt as appropriate to the group/circumstance. Again, I believe that these are the skills that teachers draw on in the face to face arena too.

Just read the article of virtual teams it’s notable how many of the characteristics are the same as those for a community of course apart from the role of leadership.

Facilitator v Moderator v Teacher

My immediate response to the terms:
Facilitator: This suggests a partnership of someone wanting something to happen and someone making something happen or facilitating the environment for that to happen. When I have facilitated meetings, I have posed questions, facilitated discussions by holding the floor and directing the discussion rather like an orchestra. I have also been responsible for drawing together the main points or themes and feeding them back to the group either verbally or in writing. The behaviour for this role is of quality assurance, the facilitator must prompt, join in, ask probing questions, lead the way, motivate, set the pace without being intrusive. The facilitated ‘learning process encourages student interaction and groupwork, drawing upon past and current life and work experiences, and utilises problem solving as a key mechanism in learning’ (Q Project , Bradford 2005) The facilitator must empower the participants to make the learning their own. In the words of Kenny Rogers you need to know when to hold up, when to fold up, when to walk away and when to run .
Moderator: in the rawest form of the term a moderator checks that standards are maintained eg. NZQA moderation. If I think of my experience of eModeration it has to be on the immigration forums. A moderator might move a thread to another area, or step in to maintain netiquette if someone is overstepping the boundary. The behaviour for this role is of quality assurance but in a more directive way than a facilitator. I know, I am finding it had to separate the emoderator from the NZQA moderator.... The moderator sets the scene and tone of a community and if it’s not right, people will not connect.
Teacher : has power and gate keeping connotations, I know that some may not agree with that but just bear with me and consider the traditional chalk and talk, and sage on the stage scenarios. For me the term teacher is something that belongs to compulsory education. I have not heard the term used outside of compulsory education, the term lecturer is commonly used in the tertiary sector. In the UK there was a strong movement in JISC projects for the term eTutoring to replace eModeration. Coincidentally if you look at the skills identified as necessary for an eTutor they are remarkably the same. Coomey & Stephenson reviewed 100 research reports and journal articles between 1998 and 2000 (I know dated now) to identify the four major features and came up with DISC. Dialogue, Involvement, Support and Control. All of which are vital for successful facilitating, moderating and teaching.
It is unsurprising that we cannot distinguish clearly between the three terms as they are used interchangeably throughout an emerging eLearning literature:
Gilly Salmon’s 5 stages of online facilitation stated in eModerating, the key to teaching and learning online. (2000) Kogan Page. One could postulate that it is to be expected as the emergent terminology attempts to keep up with the emergent technology.
In 2005 I took part in the Q project supported by JISC in the UK, this is where I first came across the two terms, eModeration and online facilitation. This where get the claim of a switch from eModerating to eTutoring from. The tearms were used interchangeably there by all involved. I hav ot say that I have taken my eye off the ball since moving over to NZ.
Doing search on wikeducator reveals,_feedback,_and_e-moderation/Moderating_online_learning/E-moderation_skills that e have not moved on a lot since 2001. I accept that this refers back to Salmon’s eModeration skills but in the introductory paragraph the terms Taught and Facilitation are used under the heading of eModeration.
Online pedagogy is supposedly to be a move ‘away from content delivery to the creation of a community through interactions online, online facilitation (or e-moderation) – that process of managing the communication of others online’ (Coghlan, M 2001 from virtual to reality conference, Brisbane). Forgive my ignorance but isn’t this what we do with adult learners in a classroom setting anyway?

I know I haven’t addressed the three questions yet......but it is tea time....I’ll be back later

feedback on community presentations

In a nutshell; The Michael Wesch you tube presentation didn't grab my attention initially. Maybe I expect to be entertained by you tube, let's face it when surfing we want instant satisfaction and I didn't get it from that, sorry Michael but I didn't feel instantly connected. BUT, being a dutiful student I did persevere to find a very entertaining and informative presentation. I am on you tube, my daughter surprised me by coming to NZ to visit unannounced , hid in a cupboard and, which my son asked me to get something from. They filmed and posted it on there for my family back in UK to see. My son (20) gets involved in political debates online, that is just something that I would had not had the confidence to do when I was 20.

I enjoyed Steven Downe's clippit. He makes some valid points that I may need to digest further. I don't see why we have to draw distinctions between a group and a network. I will flit between the two as and when the need takes me. This, that and the other should have a health warning with all the rapid image changes. If you were to use that in a UK classroom you may need to warn students with a disposition for epilepsy or migraines that the imagery may have an adverse effect. Certainly attention grabbing, inter-dispersed with text.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I touched on this during the elluminate session, for me a community can be categorised as:

Location, people come together who have a common interest due to their location. This is used in marketing for housing estates, residential villages etc. Ever heard the term it has a real community feel?

A common purpose, people develop a community for a cause such as a campaigning group. We have one at the moment in Auckland lobbying against phone masts being located near schools.
Allegiance for a common cause, sports supporters gather together in a location to collectively support their team. After the event community members disperse back into society. However, if you meet someone wearing the shirt of ‘your’ team you immediately have a connection.

To benefit from the allegiance, people may join a community of like minded people with the purpose of gaining something. I believe that I will take from our online community more than I contribute.

Etienne Wenger spoke at the HERDSA conference in Rotorua last year and he was saying that some people feel (I think he was actually referring to his peers who were involved in original research) as though the original term of a Community of Practice had been bastardised. His point was that people used the term to explain different groups of people working together for a common purpose. So are we to adopt a purist approach of a community ticking certain boxes with no lee way? This would suggest that a community is not owned by it’s participants but an elite club to which you or I need membership.

I belong to many communities; I am a Burnley fan this has noting to do with location, though it did when I became a member. Not to be confused with Dunbar’s crowds or Downes’ networks. People from all social classes and professional backgrounds intentionally come together for a purpose. Even though I’m on the other side of the world I still feel part of that community. However, I have been to enough football matches to see sections of that community behave like a crowd.

I am a member of three different online forums. I joined these purely for selfish reasons, I wanted to immigrate to New Zealand and could have easy access to people who were going through the same process or had recently been through the process. I only stood to gain from their experience. As time has passed I have gained confidence and contributed far more. I am now on the other side of the fence so can contribute as a member who has been through the experience.

Gesellschaft versus Gemeinshcaft, I did intend to categorise the above but they didn’t neatly divide up into Association or community, I am subjective so don’t feel that I can. Tonnes, who coined the terms agrees that in the real world they are often a mixture of the two. All have social capital (Putnam) and I believe that they contain the four elements of a sense of community. Namely membership; influence; integration and fulfillment of needs; and a shared emotional connection as identified by McMillan and Chavis.



This is my fourth paper on the programme. Hi Debra, here we are again. I expect more colleagues will post on their blogs as they begin this course. I am the most apprehensive about this course as I know from past expereince that I am liable to get behind and I don't hink there's any space for catching up when you are facilitating an online community.

I fully intend to set aside time during the week to complete this course work. For the other papers we have been advised to spend 5 hours a week on the course. Why do I have a feeling that this course is going to be more demanding?

I have attempted to use a forum in my teaching but not very successfully, it was the early days of web 2 technologies and my students were quite reluctant to participate. I found that they were happy to get involved in a discussion in the classroom or seminar but when it came to putting their thoughts down in writing it was another story.

Anyway, that's all for now from me,


Slideshow of photographs