Sunday, July 18, 2010

Facilitating online course

Having experimented with elearning in my classroom for a few years now, with mixed success, am keen to extend my horizons. (From a professional developer's point of view as well I'm interested in what it is about elearning that prevents so many of my colleagues from considering it as part of their practice... although not sure if this very environment would tell me that; also, how learners experience [my] digital faciliation - and such a course as this is ideal ... will be blogging.)

Looking forward to the insights of the faciliators and other participants on digital faciliation. In this newly revived blog I'll be reflecting on my ideas and progress (or lack thereof) as the course progresses.

(Heads up: I have a tendancy to be blunt in a blog or forum environment. Please don't be bothered by that. )

24 comments:

Margot/NZ said...

As a brand new blogger I'm interested to see that you are a 'reactivated' one. It's good to see that one can start again if needbe!

winterz said...

Hear Hear - from a several times 'failed' blogger. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak...
Michael Winter

winterz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Stewart said...

Hi everyone

I agree...blogging takes time and commitment and isn't everyone's cup of tea. But I love blogging because I cannot get the motivation together to journal. And I get a lot of value in reflecting in an open environment because of the feedback & review I get from my readers

Look forward to hearing how you feel about blogging at the end of the course :)

Chris Woodhouse said...

Hi Katherine. I'll be interested to see how your experience with eLearning enriches what other people have done in non-educational facilitation. While I love playing with technology, it's what people do with it and the outcomes they get that matter, IMHO.
Cheers,
Chris

Lisa Barrett said...

Hi there I'm joining you on the course, Hope you enjoy blogging this time. I love it.

Sarah Stewart said...

hey Lisa...it's no good...you're going to have to join us LOL

Kim Mc said...

Hi Katherine, I look forward to reading some of your blunt comments. I think you might gain some insight into why people resist e-learning even in this forum, as I believe there are some very 'human' reasons for resisting e-learning and wanting to hold onto face to face learning.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Kim

Why do you think people resist eLearning? And keeping in mind the wider aspect of this course...facilitating in the context of business and the non-profit 'industry' why do you think people resist online communication and activity?

Kim Mc said...

Technology that does not work/respond is probably the #1 reason that I see people resist any further e-learning (once bitten twice shy). I also believe that people (gen X particularly) desire a human response & guidance when learning & if they have limited exposure to technologies & how they can lend themselves to learning then perhaps they don't understand how the facilitator can 'respond' to their needs and make that 'human' connection online.

Jean Jacoby said...

I'm looking forward to meeting you online - I'm really enjoying the opportunity to meet my colleagues from other institutions. I reckon one of the key things that keeps people from engaging with e-learning is the time it takes to set up properly.

Sarah Stewart said...

Jean...I think you've hit the nail on the head...and is a major point that online facilitators need to keep in mind.

Mamapem said...

I want to be able to come across with my personality in a Blog. I have set one up before but got so discouraged just thinking about it, I never used it.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think the key to developing your personality in your blog is patience...it takes time to develop an online presence. Don't be afraid to be honest, in the bounds of your professional responsibilities. And talk to people...always respond to comments...and comment on other blogs...that's when people start to see who you are :)

Lisa Barrett said...

Or you could just be honest. How can honesty be bound in professional responsibility?

Sarah Stewart said...

@Lisa What I meant was that I might think my boss was useless, but I would not 'honestly' blog that...actually, I would not blog about him/her at all. Nor would I blog about my midwifery clients, students or colleagues because of my concerns about professional liability etc. I am just saying there's being 'honest' and there's not saying anything because if you do, you may contravene a professional or statutory requirement. :)

Lisa Barrett said...

I dont think that it's professional liability Sarah, I think that it's down to personal integrity and confidentiality. Clients are covered by confidentiality and you are legally entitled to say your boss is a dick if you want, however it may well affect how you are treated at work. You cannot be given the sack for it. This is such an interesting conversation and we have had it before on your blog, a long time ago. I am against censoring yourself for the thought of professional liability. The way I write is very personal, this has definitely created character in my blog with almost 1000 rss feeds hundreds of followers and some days a few thousand hits too. It does however also create some fear in the community you blog around. I suppose choosing your approach also in the end dictates your audience.

Katherine said...

Wow! thanks guys for this fantastic conversation. Loved reading it.
Online facilitation (to an extent) requires us (as teachers) to let go, to give more autonomy to our learners, to be prepared, even, to negotiate the curriculum with them. We are trained as teachers to be in control, for our learners to be on task, key performance indicators, expected outcomes, proficiency... yet then in an online facilitation our role is to stand back and let our learners do the learning. I suspect that... (and forgive me if I come across as cynical) that this letting go of control is very difficult for many teachers. ... Add this to the observation made by Kim Mc, that the need to be technologically prepared is (paradoxically) so significant that it's simply too big and we aren't paid enough.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Lisa You're absolutely right. You have a certain approach and it has brought you a certain online reputation and following. I love your blog and your approach. But that is not me. And never will be. All right...I have half the number of followers than you do and far less hits, but I see myself as a facilitator and network weaver which requires me to take more of a middle ground.

We have had this conversation before and we agree to disagree. And I think it is so fabulous that we offer different things to readers, especially in the midwifery world where we are still ahead of the field. :)

@Katherine I am interested in your comments. How is preparing for online teaching different than preparing for face-to-face teaching? Why are we not paid enough for online teaching compared to the F2F environment?

I have to say that I find it very difficult to let go as a facilitator, and as any teaching skill, I am developing it as I go along. What I find difficult is knowing when to step in...to give guidance...or not as the case may be. I find it difficult to know sometimes how to get that balance between making sure students 'know' what the course outcomes are and 'letting' them go off on tangents. Any thoughts about that?

willie campbell said...

what an absolutely wonderful conversation- what a catylist you are Kathryn. and what a raft of really relevant ideas positioned here.
See you in the space.
Willie

Jan Collier said...

Hi Katherine, your first blog has generated some interesting responses. I believe and I have seen the evidence in our rural secondary schools VLN eLearning programmes that our independent motivated students are ready for 24/7 learning. Time invested in creating and supporting such programmes is well worth it. Stepping outside of ones comfort zone is always challenging - like you I have recently become a reborn blogger. I am finding it really difficult to restraint from adding posts in our community of online bloggers.

Katherine said...

Mary said:...
>>@Katherine I am interested in your comments. How is preparing for online teaching different than preparing for face-to-face teaching? Why are we not paid enough for online teaching compared to the F2F environment?

I reply: There has been a prevailing tendency amongst course administrators and other educational bean-counters that a teacher can take his or her f2f course and digitize the content - Hey presto! online course, more students... money money! But everyone reading this blog knows it doesn't work like that... it never has, never will.

For me the difference is in the way of thinking that goes into preparing an online course... for in an online course there isn't the same opportunity to fix any breakdown in communication on the fly as we do in the classroom. We have to think carefully through every aspect, anticipate how our learners can access the content and what they will do with it, think about what might go wrong and develop strategies in advance, imagine how to meet the needs of learners with diverse learning styles, prepare prepare prepare... and that's if one is already comfortable with the technology and quick at getting it to respond.
May I rant?... and what if, (as has happened to some of our teachers upon occasion) the bean-counters don't consider the online course with net students as a course for investing in... the teacher still has to teach her f2f paper and the online students are considered part of that same course... and she has to teach them both! A teacher that is not already comfortable experimenting with the technology, and who is concerned about the implications of workload on an already capacity schedule is understandably and rightly going to be very skeptical about net teaching. Under those circumstances she simply is not paid enough; I think institutions run the risk of being technologically a bit bullying by expecting widespread adoption without being prepared to invest properly in it. ... end of rant

willie campbell said...

katherine
I heartily agree with you. I have watched in our place the same crazy excpectations of management and the same concerned and vulnerable reation and reluctance on the part of teachers. talk about being set up to fail.

Katherine said...

More about the differences between traditional teaching and e-teaching in AJET 26 - An examination of the role of the e-tutor