10 November 2008

Week 11

Looking for online community: social networking platforms

My experiences so far

As I was not able to access Ning and LinkedIn here at work, I set up a Facebook site. A number of years ago I joined Old Friends and occasionally pop in to view any updates, although I wouldn't consider myself an active user of this community.

My experience in Facebook to date: I set up a Facebook site three months ago, simply because I knew it would be part of my study in the FOC paper. Since then I have invited people in to join me. Currently there are 120 millions users and ranks 28= in the Top 100 Learning Tools for 2008.

As a Facebook user I have been able to choose to join one or more networks – they are organized by city, workplace, school, and region. These networks have helped me connect with members of the same network. So far I have connected with friends and colleagues, giving them access to their friends' or colleagues’ profiles. I have found this especially interesting when I and one of my contacts know the same person, but through different ways.

How facilitation could work in a chosen community

From a tertiary education community perspective, Facebook, an online community where members share specific or focused interests. For example an ePortfolio, where learners collect examples of their work or record their achievements. Teachers could also set up groups for synchronous and asynchronous discussion using the chat feature to collaborate on learning activities. Facebook could also be used as a library - for books, digital references, events, journal articles, library search, news, photos, reference resources, RSS/Web Feeds, social bookmarking, user guides, video/YouTube video box, wikis.

Facilitation skills in this public area would firstly require the establishment of the environment, creating a sense of trust, encouraging them to look at issues around permissions and the sharing of personal information, balancing the content, respecting diversity, actively listening and be able to capture the conversations, break any deadlocks and summarise actions.

It is important to remember the facilitator needs to have an appreciation of how this tool can aid good social interaction and learning.
Do not covet illustrious titles and certificates; practise your technique and adhere to the Way, for the wind will not read."
- F. L. Lovret
  • Rule number #1
    Practise more than you read.

    BUT take time to study the principle and theories too ...
    ... If I practise how to use a knife to do surgery without the study of medicine I might kill you, not heal you.
    Integrate study and practice of structured facilitation methods
  • Rule # 2
    People know what's best for themselves.
    "By adulthood people are self-directing. This is the concept that lies at the heart of andragogy ... andragogy is therefore student-centred, experience-based, problem-oriented and collaborative very much in the spirit of the humanist approach to learning and education ... the whole educational activity turns on the student." - Burns
I refer to Elaine's comment where she states that students currently question the value of using a social networking tool, as well as our current issues with access in educational institutions.

We need to consider how well integrated students feel within their social and academic environments. Is there a connection? Should there be a connection? If I consider the rules above and practice, there may become better ways to facilitate, using this tool more effectively in tertiary education.

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