Monday, December 28, 2009

A summary of my Learning

This has been an excellent course that has broadened my knowledge and opened my mind about e learning options and online facilitation. I can see that the technology is forever changing and to be an expert in this would be difficult but I do feel I am able to find my way around the elearning platforms.

A summary of my thoughts: It has been a trip and one I didn't think I was going to complete but here we are at the end.

An Online Community:

An online community is updated, current and shares a common goal. There is a link and a connection where people contribute in some way. I had written in the above blog that I thought an online community lacked humour. I don't think that anymore. We had a few laughs a long the way in this course, especially when it come to actually completing my online meeting. I think I got the blooper award!

Teacher, Facilitator, Moderator:

I do see these roles crossing over, you can where different hats but have to understand what tasks you complete while wearing each of these hats. A teacher imparts knowledge, A facilitator guides the process and a moderator keeps respondents on target.

Online Discussion Forums:

I didn't really have much success with online forums but I can see they would be useful. This would be an excellent place to discuss a topic and gather many opinions. I think many of these forums don't have a moderator and the posts are not always current. You don't find this out until you have signed up when the forum is closed.

Blogging and Interviewing:
I had the success with finding a blog and interviewing the writer. I found Robin Heyden who I have been in contact with throughout the course. Robin was able to present at my online meeting, (eventually). I am sure Robin and I will continue to stay in touch. This was a fantastic experience and a highlight from the course. Blogs do create a connected community and this has been created between Robin and myself through email, skype and dim dim. Blogging is a great place to think out loud, as Robin describes it. You can test your ideas and it is exciting to get comments and thoughts from others. I do think that you need to set time aside and complete your posts or you will fall behind and it is hard to catch up with your thoughts.

Wiki Collaborators:
A Wiki is a useful place to share information and collaborate with a group of people. It was useful to find out what online meetings were being held and when. I especially liked the links to each persons meeting room/venue as it meant I didn't have to go looking for it. It was good to make sure you didn't double up on other topics and times and dates didn't clash. It was great to know that everything you needed to know about the course could be found using a wiki. I have presented information using a wiki for a course in the new year, I haven't trialled this yet but it is ready to go. I look forward to seeing how successful this is.

Second life:
I never got to experiment with this enough to feel confident using this. I do now have the second life name and see where Second Life could be used in my own teaching. Second Life would definitely be useful in role playing practice teaching and working through scenarios.

Social Networking Platforms:
I haven't had much experience with social networking but do see it as being very popular among all ages and groups of people. I can see this would be great for youth and their learning as social networking could be used as a motivator. It would have to be monitored closely as students could have a negative experience and as facilitators we would rather a positive experience for our students. But a great place to keep in touch and communicate with other course participants.

Facilitating my online event:

This was a fantastic learning experience and taught me to be prepared, be flexible and hang in there. I do strive for success and this assignment did prove a challenge. Dim Dim was the online platform I managed to gain success with and what a feeling when that happened. I was really appreciative of the support from participants, Robin (my presenter) and Sarah. The process was very valuable, advertising the meeting, informing people about the topic, changes and venue, ensuring the venue was working and trying different venues. These were all valuable experiences.

Reflecting on different types of communities:
I have enjoyed using the blog and the wiki and will endeavour to use these in the future courses I facilitate. I had success with dim dim and would use this to meet online. I found Elluminate very useful and a great tool that could do many things for example share screens, use a whiteboard, demonstrate, audio and test message and much more. I would use skype to support and contact individual students but not for conferencing with more than 4 participants. Many of the students on this course provided links to new and exciting web tools that I will experiment with in the future.

Course Evaluation:
I have learned many things I will use in the future. It has been excellent to experience a wide variety of tools to move forward with e learning. I had never used any of these tools so the new learning has been huge.

The information presented was clear. The facilitator was always available and approachable. Sarah offered many experiences, information, comments and ideas and helped in any way she could.

The work load was relatively high but with activities to complete regularly. They were interesting and this kept you motivated. I could have scheduled my time and stuck to this to complete my online activities. I would have liked to have spent more time reading others blogs and commenting but this year has been a busy one and this was not possible. I did follow a couple of people that I had similarities with and this was a positive. I will use some of the tools in my teaching. I would recommend that anyone with an interest in e learning complete this course.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Facilitating my online event - implementing online tools into your teaching

I am very pleased to say I managed to get this online meeting facilitated!!!! It was a long journey and an experience I will remember for a long time.

I would like to thank everyone for their support and kind words. The students on this course were very encouraging and Sarah, your perseverance was outstanding as was mine and Robins (Robin was the guest speaker at my online meeting).

I do now understand the technology difficulties and the importance of having a back up plan. I tried facilitating my meeting three times. We tried using Elluminate and I have found this to be a very robust system but due to Robin using a MAC and the Elluminate version not being compatible, we did not have success the first time.

We then decided to try Skype and slideshare but due to the number of people attending the meeting, skype was not suitable. All attendees could access the slideshare put together by Robin. but skype did not stand up to the test.

We had to rethink our plan as the Eluminate patch did not allow Robin to access it using her MAC computer. Another student used Dim Dim and her meeting went very well. This was our next plan. We practiced using dim dim and it didn't go well the first time. I did some research and found out that it may be better if Robin hosted the meeting from her end (Boston, US) and I facilitate from NZ) We had lift off!! We were absolutely excited to get through the meeting and listen to Robin talk about online tools you can implement into your teaching. It was exciting to hear about screen jelly and animoto. I will include a list of links to these tools at the end of this blog. The changes were continuously posted on the course wiki. This was an excellent place to share information about topics, dates, times and links. I also sent our numerous emails keeping the group updated on the process and progress.

The meeting went really well and Dim Dim didn't let us down. This is an excellent tool to use for online conferencing. We could see Robin via web cam and could hear her perfectly from the other side of the world. This course has shown me that anything is possible with the technology we have at our finger tips and this was free!

The meeting was a success, the group was able to text message Robin and ask questions during the meeting and the slideshare was loaded into Dim dim for everyone to see and follow. This is a tool I would use in my teaching and one that seems to be accessible by MAC computers. Dim Dim allowed 3 people to have the microphone at a time. The microphone can be passed onto other. the text messaging allowed people to communiate throughout the presentation. This was good to welcome people and say goodbye when people left the meeting without interupting the speaker. The faciliator (me) made sure I went back and asked the questions that Robin may have missed while presenting and kept a general eye on what was being said in the text messaging column. Links were added to the messaging column so partcipants could access relevant sites. Participants were given a chance at the end of the presentation to ask questions and make any comments about their experiences. I had the feeling from communication that people enjoyed the session and managed to get some new ideas and new websites to visit.

I was unable to record the meeting as Robin was afraid that recording would place too much pressure on the system and it may crash. Robin is an excellent facilitator with a wealth of knowledge. Robin has supported teachers to implement online tools into their teaching for a number of years and uses this with her own students. Robin has a blog that she is very dedicated to and has written about this meeting. The link is You can access Robin's blog as I did a few months ago and read about her exciting adventures as a science teacher.

This was a fantastic learning experience and taught me about back up plans and flexibility as an online facilitator. It also taught me about advertising the meeting, keeping everyone in the loop and communication via the course wiki. This worked well and everyone was updated quickly. i also used the group email as this normally received a pretty immediate response.

I really enjoyed other students meetings and tried to attend when I could. They were very informative and the guest speakers were very interesting and knowledgeable. I especially enjoyed the meeting about Preschoolers blogging.

Below is a list of online tools that were discussed in my online meeting and you may be interested in investigating these. These have been sent out to the group as a follow up using group email.

I hope these links are helpful. I also gave the group a link to a website that will help you analyse what online tools you may like to experiment with.

Facilitating this meeting had it's challenges but the reward at the end was worth it. I learned a lot from Robin about different online tools that I could use in my teaching and most of these were free and accessible to anyone with a computer and the internet.

Social Networking Platforms

Wow, social networking seems to be all the rage at the moment. Everyone I talk to is on facebook!!! I seem to be missing out on something. My experience with these tools is somewhat limited but I now have some knowledge about these tools and how they may be used in teaching due to this course.

I have joined the online facilitators network but there doesn't seem to be much happening here. It is not the most popular online tool we have been introduced to on the course. I have also signed into ning but have not practiced with this much so far.

A friend in australia let me have a look around her facebook page and her contacts. This was mostly an exchange of photos and some comments.

I had a group of students that used Beebo often and unfortunataly they used this to comment and provide feedback about a new tutor that had joined our team. Not a positive experience.

I guess the social networking is very open to negative feedback and some bullying may occur. Use of social networking in your teaching would need boundaries and would need to be monitored closely to ensure that all students had a positive expeirence.

This type of platform would work well with teenagers as it seems to be a very effective communication tool for them right now.

Second Life

I have had a read about second life and now have a second life name 'Ariel Aumenie'. I am not sure that I am too keen on uising this as a teaching tool with my students. (only due to it being the unknown) I don't have a personal interest in second life, although in saying that I can see how it would be fun and innovative for some students. It would certainley help with motivation for youth.

I could see that it would lend itself to the course I faciliate in some ways, if I was to implement it into my teaching (I teach Early Childhood). I could set up a virtual classroom and let the students practice their teaching skills, run some activities and evaluate their teaching. I could set up some scenarios around special needs and behaviour management and students will use strategies to assist children with these. I would offer suggestions to students, assist them with questions and offer alternative strategies if I thought this was needed.

The students could set up their own actvities in secind life and roleplay implementing them with each other. They could peer assess and evaluate. I could observe these and offer feedback as a facilitator.

A very interesting way to learn and I would need to do some more research and pratice before using this as an online tool.

Wiki Collaborators

I found using the wiki collaborator an excellent tool to inform people on the course about my upcoming event. I had to go and change this several times and this was easy to do. I was able to copy other formats (that other students had used) and make this readable for other memebrs on the course. Everything was stored in one place, I could scroll through the information and find out when other peoples meetings were. The links were posted to meetings and this made it easy to find meeting rooms. This is a tool I would consider using as part of my teaching in the future.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Online Meeting - Assignment 2

Hi all

A Chance to speak with David McQuillan and Robin Heydon.
David is based at Otago Polytechnic and has used open access tools in his teaching and is very innovative. Robin is a high school teacher and has trained other staff in implementing on line tools into their teaching.

I have some dates that my speaker has sent through and I would like your thoughts and availability on these times.

· 10 Nov, Tues – 1pm
· 11 Nov, Wed – 10am
· 12 Nov, Thu – 10am

These are the only times David has free, I’m not sure that these times will suit Robin but as time is running out, I will have to make a decision.

Can you please send me a quick email about possible times that may suit.

I would like you to have a think about the questions/ideas below before my meeting:

Topic: Implementing e learning tools into a course – Advantages and Disadvantages

· What e learning tools have you used or implemented into a course?

· How did you implement or use the e learning tools in your course?

· Choose one of these tools and list the advantages or disadvantages you found.

Thank you for your participation. I hope I can find a date that will suit some of you.

Many thanks


Thursday, October 1, 2009


I have had a look around the wikipedia about blogosphere. The main points I have gained from this is that blogs create a connected community or a social network and they can be tracked. Blogs can be a place that people can build ideas, you can post your questions and they are a way to seek feedback and a tool for reflection. Blogs can be open entry or you can be invited to join a blogg. Maintaining an individual blog can be time consuming, where as a collaborative blog lowers the pressure and helps keep information and ideas current as they may be updated more frequently.

I was able to interview a person called Robin Heyden. Robin is a highschool teacher who blogs regularly to a link called stepping stones. This blogg has an education focus. I have been talking to Robin via email to find out her thoughts about blogging and the use of a facilitation service in a blogging community. Robin has an interesting post to her blog about bloggs. One comment I liked was 'A blog can establish an online community of practice between you and your readership where everyone has a front row seat as you grapple with new ideas or reflect on your own teaching practice. So the blog becomes a living, breathing example of the very thing we’re all seeking – a reflective, collaborative learning community'

Robins answer to my question about faciliation servcies was:

I'm not sure how I feel about the facilitator role in a blogging community. I think it completely depends on the context. Take for instance my blog....I feel like my blog is a personal expression of my interests and opinions. I blog in order to "think out loud" and frequently find that I really learn and chew on an issue when I blog about it. Yes, I care that others read my blog, but ultimately, I'm not trying to be objective or cater in anyway to an "audience". It's my personal letter to the world.

But if it were, say, a classroom blog or a blog shared by a group of people on a "journey" together, then, yes, I could see a definite place for a facilitator. I know of a number of HS teachers in the US who are using blogging with their students. When they set up a classroom blog (where students are making the blog entries and commenting on each other's postings), the teacher frequently plays that role of facilitator. That is, s/he will encourage the more thoughtful comments and discourage the flippant or mean-spirited ones. S/he will try to keep the student bloggers on task and on track. She will give guidelines and suggestions for a productive exchange. S/he might even award "credit points" for participation, in order to insure that everyone in the class joins in.

I was a member of a community like that last year with an online course (called Connectivism) run by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. The course consisted of weekly online sessions (using
Elluminate) and regular blogging. We all (the enrolled "students") posted blog entries, on the topics at hand, on our individual blogs but tagged them with the course tag (CCK08). That way George and Stephen could find our posts and comment on them. We were, of course, encouraged to comment on each other's blogs. George and Stephen would do a weekly roundup of the blog entries, highlighting those they thought were particularly worthwhile. So, in that way, they definitely served as facilitators in the way that you describe.

So, I think it all depends on who the blogging community is and what is the context for their community. Does that make sense?

I connected into Robins blog as I found her posts interesting, later reading the instructions again from Sarah, I find I was suppose to be connected to a blogging network. In saying that I have found it very worthwhile communicating with Robin and sharing thoughts about facilitation services. Robin has also helped with some suggestions about how to implement online tools into courses where students have never worked in this way.
A very worth while exercise.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Facilitating own event online

Hi everyone

A couple of ideas I had for online event was:

  • implementing online tools into a course where students have never experienced this type of learning - What approach to take? What have others done in the past?
  • Implementing the use of skype into a course

I have been thinking about topics for a while and am open to suggestions about what others would like to discuss.

For me personally I like my fisrt idea as this is something I would benefit from. I am going to try and do this with a grouop of students and it would be great to hear what others have done.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blogging and interviewing

Wow, I have had a successful fortnight.....

I have managed to make contact with a neat lady in the states, she is a highschool teacher in a blogging community and into elearning. She has lots of ideas which is great and she was very flexible. She has been in contact with me all week.

I will post up the outcome closer to the end of the week.

I am so pleased this fortnight has been more succesful than my discussion group fortnight!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Online Discussion Forums

Wow, I am now a member of my first online discussion forum. I joined the Teachers Forum, I have read through the threads and it appears this was not the most supportive forum I could have become involved in.

I signed in and registered as a member, the sit looked very effecient with many threads in different areas of the school curriculum. As I have trained as a primary teacher, I thought it would be interesting to see what the lasted developments and questions were. Unfortunately it was not successful, the threads were old, the majority had not been used in 3o days and when I tried to get in touch with 2 of the members, they did not reply.

It appears that there were many short discussions, one or two entries per thread. Each thread appeared to ahve a moderator. They were asked questions and they endevoured to answer these for the person concerned. There is not a lot of discusion between members. When you open a profile of the moderator, it then states they are the on line facilitator. I don't think they understand the difference between these roles. No one wants to answer my questions. I guess I am a little dissapointed as I thought this would have been a good discussion group to become involved in.

I will have to go looking for a new discussion forum, to experience what it is truly like to be involved in an online community such as this.

If I do have a response from the participants I will be able to update my blog.

Hopefully I will have more luck with blogging communities.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Teacher, Facilitator, Moderator

I have researched these three roles in education and decided to collate a list of tasks for each role.

A Teacher:

  • Imparts knowledge or a skill though instruction
  • Educates others
  • Teaches to a curriculum or lesson plan
  • Work under a code of ethics
  • Tells, feeds, lectures, disseminates
  • Gives lessons in a subject
  • A teacher is focused on themselves and their ability to impart knowledge
  • The traditional teacher approach leaves little room for inquiry based learning

A Facilitator:

  • Guides the process of learning new information
  • Leadership - Manages the process of information exchange
  • Supports HOW the discussion or knowledge exchange is proceeding
  • Addresses the journey rather than the destination
  • Uses time and space intentionally
  • Encourages participation and creativity
  • Is objective at all times
  • reads underlying group dynamics
  • adapts to a changing situation
  • maintains personal integrity

Characteristics of a facilitator:

  • ask rather than tell
  • initiates conversation rather than waiting for someone else to
  • Listens without interruption
  • Task orientated
  • Asks for others opinions rather than giving own
  • negotiates - doe not dictate decision making
  • shows self confidence
  • Enthusiastic
  • More outgoing than serious
  • A coach not a scientist
  • Curious about people, things and life in general
  • Can keep the big picture in mind while working on the details

A Moderator: (this role confuses me a little)

  • Keep respondents on target - make sure things are the way they should be
  • move through the discussion outline effectively
  • seek the answers to specific questions
  • Believes the group has valuable wisdom, experience or background
  • Use various techniques to get the richest data possible e.g. story telling, collage building, visualisation.
  • Has a good understanding about the groups objectives
  • explains ground rules, introduces speakers
  • screens questions as they arise and selects questions to which speakers will respond
  • improves flow of chat
  • A guide on the side
I look at the above lists and realise that in my current tutor role, I have to be all of these at some time through a learning session. They are linked. You need to understand what role you are in at that time to be sure to get the outcome you want. When I was training to be a teacher, I was taught that I facilitated learning. I work with unit standards and as a moderator in New Zealand, you check assessment validity and fairness. This is different the above moderator role. I see a facilitator supporting a group to understand their common objectives and assisting them to plan to achieve them without taking a particular position in the discussion. I liked the definition of, ''supporting everyone to do their best thinking' (wikipedia) I see a facilitator as a catalyst to leaning.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What is an online community

I am a slow blogger, I apologise for this but due to a busy time over the last 2 weeks, it has been difficult to write down my ideas. I will try and do better and start reading other students blogs from this week.

Well, I have watched, listened, read and been amazed by the on line learning technology. I am excited, scared and confused at times when experimenting with these tools. I had no idea before enrolling in this course what I was in for.

I have joined in with two meetings so far, the first cut a little short due to difficulties....which can happen when dealing with technology! We moved on to the second meeting and I really enjoyed meeting and greeting everyone. It was exciting to hear people around the world particpating in a course based in New Zealand.

What is an online community.... I decided to look into the definition of 'a community' to gain an understanding about the thoughts and theories. I see a community linked to geographical locations but it is more than that. A community pursues a common goal, concern or interest on a voluntary basis. A community is interconnected and interdependent and often shares the same values and aims. A community is something we can choose to be part of or not.

I have never been into You Tube and found the clip vey motivating and interesting to see people connecting from everywhere imaginable. You tube is linking people. They talk about You Tube being an online community, being built through web cams and screens. Some benefits I see are an invisible audience that gives people confidence to be part of a community and participate in something they may not have chosen to do in the past. It does creat anonomity and a physical distance and allows freedom to express and experience without anxiety. I like the way poeple from all over the world can colaborate together as part of this online community.

A common thread I have noticed are words such as, common goals, connection, purpose, anonymous, contibutions, audience, linking, group and conversation. This is what I would look for when defining an online community.

I liked the deifinition of, ' if there is an audience for your converstaion, you'll find a community' (Building online communities).

A network talks about groups, connection, converstaion, flow of information, more of an equal say in an online community, openness and these are a similar set of words that are used when discussing communities.

When I think about the group we have within our course, I do see our community as very new but we do share a common goal, we have a connection, a link and all contibute in some way to the course content and online meetings whether it be by asking questions or sharing information and thoughts.

A couple a differences I do see about a face to face classroom community as I know them and an online classroom community such as the one I am now participating in. Online seems to be disjointed to me, you have to wait longer for responses online than you would face to face, the flow is not as present at online meetings as you would expect in a face to face meeting, it is not easy to pick up on cues as you don't see body language or visual cues, they are missing! There is a lack of humour and humor can be misinterpreted using email, bloggs etc It appears formal to me at this stage but this could be due the newness of the group. In saying this, I can see the benefits of online learning, people are connected from around the world, you can communite using technology that Inever knew existed, it is an exciting way to learn, it is versatile and innovative. I find it all mindblowing and can't stop talking about what I have learned so far with family and friends. So that in itself is a huge benefit for me.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why am I here?


I have joined the course to gain a better understanding about e Learning...after looking at all of this information and being new to blogging mmmm it's going to be interesting. I am currently a tutor in Early Childhood via the classroom and have never learned in this new e learning way. It will be exciting and I'm sure a challenge. I don't always see eye to eye with this computer!