Facilitating online learning communities course assessments.
For assessment one I was required to discuss the characteristics of online learning community and the implications for learning and teaching, evaluate online communication tools relating to midwifery education, articulate the skills required for maintaining a successful online community and summarise the ideas experiences and understanding of at least three other participants in the course about facilitation.
I believe I have met the requirements of this assessment in the following posts
Now I hate to moan
Thoughts on wikis
I found the following quote
Working on wiki
Thinking about students’ blogging
Bloggers teachers and learners
What have I gained from this course
Reflections on Derek Chirnsides 10 minute lecture
Rural midwives wikispace
Further reflections on curatorial teaching and second life
Second life again No I’m not really crazy I’m just exploring learning communities
Using blogs wikis eluminate and second life in midwifery education
Teaching or facilitating learning
Learning communities online
Enhancing student learning in second life
Looking through these postings once again I am reminded of the roller coaster of learning that I have traveled in the last few months. As well as all the social networking tools I have discussed in these postings I have also explored other resources such as facebook, bebo, ning, and many more. The tool that I have really fallen in love with is this blog. Through this I have met others with an interest in midwifery and womens health. I have communicated on the blogs of these others and they have commented on mine. I have a small network of people with whom I communicate on a fairly regular basis. In other words I have a small community of contacts that I did not previously have a connection with. I have also been using this blog as a repository for information or evidence I have gathered which may be of interest to my students. I plan to continue to use this blog and to discuss with students how we might be able to develop blogs in which they could record their learning experience and connect and communicate with each other.
Through this course I developed a midwifery wiki page on wikieducator and a rural midwives site on wikispaces. Neither of these have stimulated much interest in the midwifery community. However the rural midwifery wikispace has been regularly visited although there have been no comments or edits to this and the wikieducator page has been accessed over 1,000 times.
This is one of the challenges for developing a learning community in an online environment. It seems that people will willingly visit and peruse material online however encouraging them to actually engage with it and contribute is quite a challenge and takes a great deal of thought. As Gilly Salmon states, when considering online course we need to always keep the needs of the learner in mind rather than the technology. The course needs to be "designed for student activity rather than delivery of content". I believe that this is a critical point. It is through this activity that the students will learn.
How to engage students and encourage active participation is the challenge of a learning community. In this course I have been an active participant and through this participation I have learned a great deal. This occurred also with the support of other members of the course. Being able to share ideas and seek help and support from other course participants has greatly added to my learning and helped me to identify with the other course participants as a learning community, although I have never actually physically met with most of them. The shared learning goal of getting to grips with social networking tools has been the bond that has kept us motivated and communicating with one another. I have been pleased to re-establish links with some of the course participants as we are returning to work after the holidays.
I believe that the learning community we established was definitely facilitated through the 10 minute lectures with guest speakers and the discussions that we engaged in as a group through "elluminate". This seemed to me to be a very useful tool to bring everyone together and emulated a class discussion in a way. In some ways I think this could actually be even more interactive than a class discussion with the ability to use the whiteboard to type and draw (there were some strange creations which appeared) and for others to see this. In a way it is like everyone seeing your doodle pad and being able to add to it and share it while listening to a lecture. This has the potential to be a fun way to learn and to simulate thought and discussion. However I had problems with my internet connection which was very frustrating and I can imagine that this would be a source of frustration for students I am working with. As a group we learned that you need a back up plan for times when the technology lets you down. Have an alternative method of communication or an alternative activity for the students to engage in. Of course this requires more thought and organisation for the teacher. Delivering courses in an online environment is not going to be time or money saving I feel, however it does have the opportunity to be more accessible to more people.