Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Blogosphere of FOC 08.

Do we need a facilitator? Yes, to keep the direction moving towards learning options.
Are we insular? Yes, more than we are ‘open’ as we feed off the direction, starting points etc. of Leigh’s resources and those extraneous ones that come through from other class members.
Guess what? Even my MS Word dictionary corrected my wrong spelling of blog-o-sphere. Even Mighty Microsoft is aware the bloggers are out there, in unison and their have a context called… Blogusphere… sorry, that’s Blogosphere!
Networks (2)
http://9rules.com/
http://www.webbleyou.net/join <<<<-I think this one is better a an example as it is a network of networks on differentiated topics

Must See HTTP:// (http://www.bradlands.com/weblog/)

Well, Mr. Must See HTTP:// shows us all to clearly that anyone calling them a name on the internet must live up to that name… we are now September├č 2008 and the last article was Sept 10, 1999.

The Blogosphere By the Numbers By Rob McGann, The ClickZ Network, Nov 22, 2004

In internet life and times, this is an old article. But some conclusions:
- New blogs join the milieu offerings every few seconds, but few translate into regularly updated, comprehensive blogs
- A small percentage of blogs gain a wide readership, and a very small percentage gain phenomenal readership, with readers subscribed and regularly checking updates – meaning the either:
1. A small number have incredible influence over the few – what’s changed, really – it’s just a new forum or context?, and/or,
2. A small number have something of importance to say, or feeling passionately motivated say to say something, and/or,
3. A small number gain the skills, have the network or catch a wave in time to develop a following through good online marketing, or, link with an established membership online (or a membership that can easily translate to online), or, latch on to a topic that has already (or has the capacity to) grab the attention of readers mid- to longer-term, or, write so compellingly on a topic of interest as to solidify their presence as an online opinion that matters.
- Communicable events (sounds like a disease) – these high interest events increase ‘media’ activity regardless of the online status, on TV, in newspapers or on radio, like elections or disasters. This does not mean that blogs have become a favourite source of information and comment.
- People that are normally socially connected or socially motivated (13-19 2,120,000 51.5%) are using blogs to elevate their profile in their own social circles and launch their influence into wider national or international circles, with adult snow able to see, hear and read about a teen’s life as they never could before – social scientists must love this phenomenon and new doctoral topics must abound!

Keeping up to date

I've been saving the articles to my laptop, reading and commenting into a Word doc for blogging later. That's why there are lots of blogs on one day.
Right now, I am sitting on the toilet seat (not using it of course), while my 2 yr old plays in the bath, while I check my email an update the blog posts.
Amazing really what wirelessness can do.
Even men can multitask.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What have we learnt about ... Effective Online Facilitation

Response to What have we learnt about ...Effective Online Facilitation
http://pre2005.flexiblelearning.net.au/index.htm

I think a key quote here is, “the teacher manages discussions and learning activities”.
It is useless for a teacher to use the tools but abdicate responsibility for learning. The focus is always the learner; the medium is not the issue unless it gets in the way. Feedback opportunities need to be in place.
This enables the learner to move from novice to practitioner to expert. I studied this stuff for my doctoral prep in Education.

The stages go:
  1. Novice.

  2. Advanced beginner.

  3. Competent.

  4. Proficient.

  5. Expert.
(fuller here http://www.j-paine.org/students/lectures/lect8/node7.html)

Communication opportunities that encourage interaction between learners can create a cross-pollination effect, with learners helping learners – one learner answering questions that another learner hasn’t considered relevant until a meaning context is provided based within a work or home or learning problem.

So, another key quote around this idea is, “moving from an emphasis on web content to a more interactive structure that recognises the social and interactive elements of knowledge construction”

In terms of measuring effectiveness, I wonder if any and all learners are ready to ‘put themselves out there’ in a virtual space, describing their own understandings, getting feedback from other learners & the tutor, giving feedback. It’s all a bit, well scary, really.

Facilitation is not just managing the learning environment and pace of learning opportunities, it is about relational leadership, being an exemplar of proactive, supportive and corrective behaviours.

In order or progress through Salmon's fives stages a learner actually needs some basic ICT skills otherwise the consideration of learning online is so foreign its not an even option. To encourage new entrants to try online learning, I think institutions need to provide examples or case studies of different learners and how they have moved from a physical to a virtual learning environment.
Peers from a similar social or age background to coach them, at the start.

This is acknowledged in one of our other readings as there is the two-fold ministry of tchnical support and e-moderation ( All Things in Moderation | E-tivities | 5 stage model http://www.atimod.com/e-tivities/5stage.shtml)

Face to face learning in preparation for the online environment is probably a good beginning or prerequisite for a facilitator to expect, as he/she can begin the online mediation process with some assumptions of learner skill-level.

I think my notions fit more into Paulsen's Function model: instructor, social director, program manager, and technical assistant.

Anyway, still thinking on this...

Response to Managing Groups and Teams/How Do You Build High-performing Virtual Teams?

Managing Groups and Teams/How Do You Build High-performing Virtual Teams?
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Managing_Groups_and_Teams/How_Do_You_Build_High-performing_Virtual_Teams%3F

Our enterprise could not operate without virtual tools, enabling the ‘team’ to exist. Most of our childcare operations are outside Auckland, where our HQ resides. We rely on txt messages, emails, phone calls and posted newsletters, faxes of system documents and scans of documents t report on work assigned and tasks completed. At times we can no communicate with people in the field because they are slicing organises for afternoon tea, driving a van to pick up kids or they are just out of range. ICT allows us to schedule times for real-time communication and set an agenda.
Because our nation-wide funding round closes in the next few weeks, we have some very clear results we are seeking to achieve. Everyone knows these goals and the way they will be measured. Larson and LaFasto’s ‘4 necessary features’ are extremely relevant. The third feature of individual performance monitoring and feedback revolves around the leadership tasks that individuals report on, such as staying within spending limits; this issue alone generates substantial dialogue as we review the recreational programme provided to our children in care, and how we resource it. Some staff are either naturally god at managing this area of responsibility, some staff require weekly feedback and monitoring. The last feature of fact-based decision making is driven by the reporting procedures, where we may actually close an after school care programme due to low numbers and no apparent, demonstrable opportunity for growth.
At times, we give-up speed of response to ensure we gain accuracy in response. We want real information and might get it a day later than desired, but we prefer to get a real document, with real signatures or numbers, rather than a ‘guestimate’ that is on time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Video of Stephen Downes 2006

I watched the video online of Stephen Downes, talking about the differences between networks and groups. It makes sense.
From an educator's point of view, we're going for a clearly defined "group" to deliver learning opportunities.
But when i am developing learning opportunities, i am clearly going for a "network". understanding the definitions or distinctions will help me structure or provide or enable each type to take part or contribute.
It's all a bit theoretical but I am pragmatic and and finding some good practical ways forward.
It also sounds a little class-struggle-marxist
Group
Unity coordination closed
Distributive - centralised, leaders authority
Technology - TV, radio = one to many, tecnolog that coordinates, stndards, values, podcast, technorati
Unequal power, a spike of power base, creates barriers
Privacy, as a projected power, when a private action is displayed in public, but others ca not act on it.
Network
Diversity Autonomy
openness - bridges not walls
Connective - between members, united in purpose, motives may be different
Technology - personal emails, portfolio, self-directed, blogs, identity, conversations, social networking
different technologies may be used for different types
Equal power, a scale free environment,

Communities of Practice - Learning as a Social System by Etienne

Communities of Practice - Learning as a Social System by Etienne Wenger

The following are some key points that stood out to me:
A community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

  1. purpose or topic
  2. roles people take towards the purpose or topic
  3. product - this may not be a physical or electronic project, it may be a sense of communiyt or the learning held by the members individually or the "whole is more powerful than the sum of its parts"

Key Qoutes:

  • Communities of practice develop around things that matter to people. As a result, their practices reflect the members' own understanding of what is important.
  • it defines itself in the doing
  • participation has value
  • community of practice is different from a network in the sense that it is "about" something

Communities of practice...

  • retain, exchange and interpret information
  • give a home and opportunities for displays of 'identity'
  • can be a liability
  • to legitimize the community as a place for sharing and creating knowledge, recognized experts need to be involved
  • the best place to start is to foster the formation of communities of practice that leverage the potential that already exists

Facilitating online communities

From this course i expect to gain a good understanding of:

  1. structuring a learning environment for learners
  2. designing individual learning components that engage the learner
  3. creating a variety types of learning activities, that can be also assessmnt activities

I am hoping that people with different learning styles can relate to the learning opportunities we'll provide online, through the Trust's Moodle.

Building Online Communities

Building an online community seems to have lots of similarities to building a physical
organisation:

  1. shared purpose
  2. shares stories - myths and celebrations
  3. a champion or evangelist of the core
  4. a culture developed through traditions, speech, actions, opinions, topics of discussion etc.

I read the book Organisaitonal Leadership. Many of the processes in leading, building, growing an
organisation in that book are in this articlecle.

The real bonus in any community as chromatic describes it, form my perspective, is the freedom for
individuals to let their passions take them in directions, to depths and to 'substantively different levels'
(e.g. quality or variety in presentation of the passion area).
The individual's sense of ownership can be maximised as there may possibly no limits of the freedom
to express their passion:

  • number of pages of content created
  • the structure, linking, heirachy of content
  • the flavour of content - video, plan text, in-order or reader-decides-order, hardcopy or only web-based
  • etc.
  • summary, referenced or interpretive or grounded theory etc.


And the thing is, once someone is IN they are IN, unless rules of engagement at the start define what
is 'acceptable'.

Shared culture, a shared history, maybe only a shared start and the end point may not be related in any
way to where the community began