Archive for February, 2007

talk talkHere’s what I’ve noticed in asynchronous discussion forums …

If there’s one thing that sums it up, it’s that online discussions are about dialogue, not monologue.  People need to get out of “presentation mode” and connect with the other people in the discussion.  Here’s how great facilitators & learners do it …

They address people by name in their course.  They connect their ideas with what other people have said.  They use smilies 🙂 a LOT.  They upload pictures to make their point, and may even upload the occasional picture of their cat if they can use it in the context of the discussion.  (Great for a visual learner!!)  Pictures can jumpstart a discussion (as can a good martini recipe as I found out on our facilitator’s WebBoard a few weeks ago).  A good learner will make sure that nobody’s question goes unanswered and nobody’s comment goes unrecognized.  Nothing is worse in an online discussion that saying something and getting silence on the other end.  Good learners participate (a LOT! and in little doses) and they are great cheerleaders.  They cheer when someone else makes a good point (and then they usually build on it).   

If you’re a facilitator, remember that a little goes a long way in an online discussion. The most successful online course I’ve facilitated came from what I learned at a Great Teachers seminar.  (David Gottshall is my hero.)  I gave participants three tasks & then told them to use the WebBoard to support one another to accomplish them.  Having freedom and a manageable amount of work allowed people to take charge and make the discussion their own. Less is more.

You know what else I’ve noticed?  People who are great facilitators in a classroom carry that magic into their online courses because they see people, not technology. 

Have any tips you want to share? 

(Photo, Talk Talk (FSOD), by Anthony Easton) 


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(or, why do we do things the way we’ve always done it even though there’s a better way?)

NSCC in Second LifeOf all the things I do in Second Life, there are two things that stand out for me.  I love talking with the people I meet.  It’s a very social place for me.  And I love to build things.  I like how I can express ideas there … sometimes ideas about education.  When you build a space for learning, you bring all your ideas about learning to that design.

If you roam around the sims created by educational institutions in Second Life, you’ll see that many of them look just like they would in real life.  Not all, but many are spaces with seats designed around lecterns or stages.  They usually have large screens where people project images or videos.  But auditoriums aren’t great spaces for learning in Second Life for a couple of reasons.  First, bringing people together in large groups taxes a sim’s server and slows down the experience for everyone.  Second, if everyone decides to chat, the conversation can be hard to follow.  So why do people do one thing when the technology doesn’t really suit the idea?  Why build roofs in places where it never rains?  

I’ve heard people say that virtual environments let us escape from who we are in real life, but I wonder how much we can escape the limitations of our habits, our ways of seeing the world & our difficulty in imagining alternatives.  We can escape our bodies but we can’t escape what’s in our heads.  So if we use a space like Second Life, to what extent do we have to change our way of thinking about education to make it work? 

(By the way, the picture above is one of the first campus buildings we used.  It had a roof.  :-)) 

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“As educators and learners, we need to be aware of our own practices, simultaneously teaching and learning ‘with’ and ‘against’ social media. Simply embracing new technologies or taking for granted the pedagogical assumptions behind the new ‘Youniversity’ is not enough.” ~ Ulises Mejias, How does social media educate?

Ay, there’s the rub.

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… a spamologue from Ze Frank

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“When you have the opportunity to learn what someone else in another group does what you do differently … GO.”

~ Ron Burt, in his great presentation to Nesta on social networks (quicktime)

Does the same thing apply to learning?  Do we need to get out of our silos?  Outside the divisions that create courses?  Departments?  Divisions?  Schools?  The walls that enclose our campuses?  Is this the value of working and learning on a network?

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I would fail miserably

I have to admit, I’m not unhappy at the thought.

Learning Research Quiz

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A friend asked.  I thought I’d share the answer with everyone since you might find it handy, too.  Most of the photos on this site are creative commons licensed photos that I find by searching FlickrCC, a fantastic tool created by Peter Shanks.  The site also comes in handy for finding images to use in PowerPoint presentations.

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