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.