Facilitating Online Communities (FOC08) Class Notes HERE

As I mentioned earlier this week, I just registered for another online class, Facilitating Online Communities.

I really like how Leigh Blackall, the facilitator for the class, has listed the assignments and is being more than patient with the flurry of email that is moving around from the course Google Group.

The assignments for the first week are:

  1. Set up a blog to record the course notes. Done–I already have my own blog and will use it for this course as well as for my other work.
  2. Listen to the recording for the first week. Not done yet; I have trouble focusing on something like this, and it may be one of the reasons I do not listen to podcasts too often as well. I listen to the radio all the time, but it usually becomes background noise. Thus, my challenge–how to make background noise into something I have to consciously focus on. Will have to try to do this.
  3. Post here what I hope to get from this course. OK; here goes. I hope to learn more about online communities and how best to facilitate them. I have recently started to get active in CPsquare as I find a lot of value in collaborating with people who have different perspectives (due to the international audience and variety of experiences and education) from me in the areas of technology and adult learning. I am hoping that this class, which stretches for several months well into the Fall (in the US, at least) will give me ideas and encourage me to try new things with my online and F2F classes I teach. I am wondering how to apply the research, work, and experience from the communities of practice to higher education classes. I try to teach in a democratic manner, and am wondering how students may be encouraged to learn differently from this perspective. I hope Leigh’s class will help me think this through.
  4. Introduce myself on the course discussion page. Done. Additionally, I just added my blog to my post there.
  5. Set up an RSS blog reader, and subscribe to the blog posts of those in the class. Well, I use FeedDemon, which is an offline reader that synchs online (so I can access the same feeds home and at work).  I like having these things offline, but there has been so much talk about Google Reader, that perhaps I should check that one out as well. My question here is how to get all the RSS feeds for the class? Some people have tried to do this with various tools, but all the lists appear inconsistent. Will have to consider this on my own I suppose.

Let me speak for a moment on my first impressions. Leigh has done a tremendous amount of preparation for this class. Kudos to him! It does seem, however, that some of the students have started a flurry of discussion about tools and technology and the like–so much that I am already having trouble keeping up. Now, I am an instructional designer, university adjunct faculty member who teaches in and with technology, and do consider myself somewhat conversant in using technology; yet I am still struggling to keep up with all the emails that are discussing tools and such. I do, however, think it is very valuable to have this conversation, and am always happy to have (and sometimes be one of the) students who have passion and try to share it with others for the betterment of the entire experience. We need passionate people who want to share! My concern is for those who are not as fluent in the tools already and who may be a bit overwhelmed with hearing and seeing too much at once (namely, by day 3!). Interesting experience as I do not normally feel like one of them.

Nevertheless, we are off to a wonderful start, and I only hope that this passion remains and develops!