28 September 2008

Week 9

Looking for online community - wiki collaborators

Assignment 2 - draft concept

TLC (Think, Learn & Create) using Mind Maps
- online discussion
- online presentation (using Elluminate or Skype)

Collaborative facilitation with Elaine Dittert

This session is designed to provide participants with pointers to help you gather and organise large amounts of data and provide a clear overview, analyse your thoughts, identify problem solving ideas and generate more ideas with clarity, efficiency and accuracy.

Promotions for the session:
Possible presenters:
  • Jennifer Goddard, BBus (Admin), Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Master Trainer in Buzan Advanced Learning Techniques, inspirational Director of the Buzan Centre in Australia and New Zealand and co-founder of Mindwerx International.

  • Jennie Vickers, Buzan Licensed Instructor, (senior advanced coach), Masters of Management, Diploma in BA, BA Law (Hons), Leadership NZ alumnus.
Summary: Have you had difficult keeping up with the 'overload of information' during this course? Got confused or lost by trying to view all the discussion threads? Have you jotted down some thoughts and ideas you've read and heard and by the time you're ready to read and make your notes they make no sense? If this sounds like you, this session may be just what you need.

Mind maps are a dynamic way to capture significant points of information. They use a global format, allowing information to be displayed in the same way that our brain functions in many directions simultaneously.

Key Links:
Friday 31 October 11 am (+13 hrs GMT)

Background information .....

Discussion starters ..... (taken from Discussion postings and threads from potential participants) .....

Technical support services:
  • Skype - Conference call (internet access, preferably Broadband, webcam and headset with microphone)
  • Access to YouTube, Wikieducator, Wikipedia
  • Adobe Reader
  • Microsoft Office - MS Word, MS PowerPoint
  • Register to a free online collaborative mind map program ....
Contingency plan
Issues to consider:
  • time of online event (may conflict, respond to feedback)
  • if oversubscribed (maximum 24 participants at session), arrange alternative event/s
  • loss of internet connection ... Plan B?
record of event
  • History of conversation .....
If you wish to post a question on our Wiki discussion area, please click here.

22 September 2008

Week 7

Blog networks

About blogospheres

The terms ‘Blogsphere’ and 'Blogosphere' are used as collective terms in order to describe all of the blogs on the internet as they function as a social network or as a community.

From the article Customer engagement, in the See Also section of FOC 906.703 Week 7, my initiative for engagement as a customer prompted me to search for and consider two different areas of online, connected communities - one consumer-led and one company-led, for both professional and personal interest. This led me to:
  1. Teeline shorthand: I am a Teeline trainer (Leigh, sorry, but I couldn’t bring myself to use teacher, moderator or facilitator :-)) and decided to research various ways to support the learning in a more flexible manner as part of a personal business plan. Despite this recent article Shorthand dying skill in age of technology shorthand writing is still recognised as an essential skill for verbatim notetaking notably in the Commonwealth and USA in areas such as journalism, Parliament, medical, business (for example, minute taking) and the legal field (court reporting) for the accurate recording of information (without the reliance of technology). It is a core subject (at 80 wpm) in New Zealand to become a qualified journalist.

    There’s a website Online Shorthand that WITT journalism students subscribe to that provides fully asynchronous online training. They support Skype for synchronous communication (for real-time dictation) however I could not find any networked connections within the site to Teeline communities of practice for social engagement and academic support. An online alumni community (for past students and staff) would also be an opportunity to engage possible consumers.

    Further searching revealed a number of personal Teeline blogs containing very limited interaction. Of interest I found a link to YouTube that suggested writing Teeline to a song sung by Tina Turner, When the heartache …; and Teeline shorthand resources - set up nearly two years ago. While only a few responses (4/5 this year), there's been 870 hits. In the “Blogs about Teeline” posting there is a thread that asks about how to write Maori in Teeline! And another ... Teeline Torture!

  2. Real estate: I have a friend, ex-colleague who set up her own real estate company. She has just set up a blog through her own (commercially-sponsored) website Wendy Goss Real Estate, but also has one with Real Estate New Zealand. Shevlin’s definition of customer engagement (adapted by Richard Sedley suggests:

    "Repeated interactions strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand”.

    I am interested in following the development of her blog to identify the purpose and benefits to her company, her current and potential customers, her colleagues and the industry as a whole as her time (and money) is invested in this medium.
Reviewing of FOC 906.703 blogging network

I believe it does connect to the outer network. Under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License the content is available to anyone with access to the Internet using Wikieducator and is aligned to Wikieducator’s purpose.

It needs to attract and engage target ‘customers’ to further the objectives of this network. This develops empowerment of the consumer (learner) and the opportunity to engage with others of similar interests – in an applied sense (business and educationally intertwined).

Does the network have a facilitator or should it need one?

It’s been fascinating for me to reflect on my own struggles with participating online in this paper and the barriers that are stopping me engaging more freely. In Shane’s posting about the concept of community, he says:
“The information they generate is independent of me, however they form a significant part of what is me. My facilitation of these is simply seek, sort and utilise."
I am still at this stage!

I believe there are various levels of ‘guidance’ a facilitator can provide that is unique and personal to each participant. For example, for a newbie to blogging, the prompting of Leigh as our facilitator has provided me with a safe environment for non-threatening discussion and has helped other participants feel less intimidated, has provided management of synchronous meetings and has kept the discussion focused on the issue, with a fresh, objective approach. Leigh states in his FOC 703 blog:
“Not long now and we will be collaborating in the organisation of an online conference. I wonder how many people we will have with us for that? How many of us have started thinking what we will do for it? and how will we do it. Will we have panels, debates, discussion threads with summaries, photo stories, the development of a wiki document... I wonder?”
Eeek, his gradual nudging is to ensure we do not become overly dependent on him as a facilitator and therefore may not learn the skills and strategies necessary for facilitating an online community!

Consider my role in helping to develop this blogging network

Leigh has stated it as a comment (and is also very appropriate to me) So I need to:
  • respond to comments on my blog (much much more);
  • browse through the blogs I have linked into my bloglist and post a few comments (much more);
  • post to my blog with references to the work of others (I realise this has been my priority, and needs to change); and
  • nurture and build personal connections (network, network, network)
to ensure I give and not just receive.

Comment on the strengths and weaknesses of a blogging network for online community development

Blogs are capable of presenting facts. By using this Web.20 tool it has encouraged us to not only read but write. It appears blogs continue to gain credibility because people want a greater variety of opinions which is promoting the collaborative development of knowledge.

Accuracy (or verification) although blogs have a self-correcting mechanism through reader comment and ratings. Blogs are subject to being biased.

Bloggers need to recognise that what they are publishing is public and as a result there are certain ethical obligations to their community, the people they write about, and society in general.

I feel it’s important to identify the strengths and weaknesses — not only does it provide us with an opportunity to work on our weaknesses, it helps move us past the roadblocks that our weaknesses identify.

19 September 2008

Week 6

Online community: Discussion forums


Road cycling: I have recently purchased a road bike and now want to become familiar with finding interesting and challenging distances to ride as I come to grips with the training. I joined the Manawatu Masters Cycling Club (MMCC) but at present prefer to do most of my training independently until I become more confident with using my bike, especially with hill climbing, before riding in a pack.

I need information on road cycling for newbies, cross-training, nutrition, find cycling routes, clothing, and networking with others, locally, nationally and internationally.

I was recommended a commercially-sponsored website MapMyRide.com. The site states: “users are able to visualize their health and fitness training progress through the use of maps, workout logs, fitness calculators/tools, and user-led community groups”. As a newbie to this sport, so far it appears to offer a wide range of information, to support my initiation into road cycling! I have been able to plot maps of my rides without a GPS, search for rides or routes globally, keep track of my routes including distances, and even calculate how many calories I’ve burned on one route versus another! Tabs in the site include:
  • Map new ride
  • Search for rides
  • My training log
  • Cycling races and events
  • Community
  • Stories and photos
  • New features
I need to register (free) on the site to become a member to access all the content. I have yet to do so, but was still able to search many features that are useful for my current needs: I easily found rides for Palmerston North and could simply map my ride from my home. I could select my map settings (e.g. elevation, follow roads, etc), map my ride then see the distance and elevation for my journey.

How would the forum benefit from facilitation services?

Within the Community tab, there are currently seven forum categories:
  • cycling forum
  • cycling gear
  • road cycling
  • general fitness and nutrition
  • cycling clubs and groups
  • cycling routes
  • mountain biking
Each category shows the last post, who posted it (and when), the number of topics and number of postings within the topics. Each posting shows the category of the forum, who started it, how many comments, last comment and when it was last active. Profiles of users are available with a star rating and number of views log. It is a ‘private’ forum in the sense I have to register on the site to be able to participate.

A block in the discussion forums page monitors the statistics for discussions, comments, newest user and postings in the last 24 hours.

I would have liked to see a star rating in the Discussion Forums facilitated by the community within this community. It could assist me in trying to find qualitative information. Events listed can be rated.

In the Help area, under the heading "Elevation descent/ascent seem to be wrong", it states … another reason we've released the raw data is so that we can collaborate to improve this feature. We'll soon be adding forums to the site, and we'll have a community collaboration on improving the elevation calculation functions”. I believe this would benefit its development and promote confidence, especially for novices like me, that promote are valid and substantiated comments.

Already I have found the site to be helpful as it is easy to see the forums and their threads that have generated the most interest and most frequently asked questions from ‘old’ posts (maybe weeks, months or even years ago), that are still relevant.

List of facilitation techniques useful in assisting community communications

The role of an online facilitator has been expressed by Tammara R. Winn in her blog, Epiphany 2008. While her heading identifies ‘facilitator’ Tammara refers to techniques for an online ‘instructor’. I agree with her statements that identify pedagogical, social, managerial and technical aspects to promote good facilitation, summarising with what she sees as most important: be patient! I did feel she could also include reference to Web 2.0 tools such as collaboration by use of blogs and wikis.

Elaine's post identified a practical list of really useful points with relevant examples that I relate to with my limited experience to date.

A link to ‘The Art of Hosting Good Communication online’ by Howard Reingold lists sensible, practical techniques within the following topics:
  • What an online host wants to achieve
  • Good online discussions
  • What a host does, what a host tries to grow
  • Host behaviour
An article Facilitating and hosting a virtual community by Nancy White, identifies the four frameworks for online facilitation, group processes, applications, key skills, and links to relevant articles. When discussing ‘Facilitators as Role Models’ she states … “they are often the first members to be challenged. Integrity, patience, a good sense of humour and a love of other people will be valued in any host”. The key skills she identified included:
  • Group facilitation skills
  • Cybrarianship
  • Passion for community
  • Ability to facilitate facilitative behaviours within the community
If the facilitator is acting also as the ‘referee’, Ms White identified the key skills as:
  • Thick skin and slow fuse
  • Internet experience
  • Familiarity with common netiquette
I related particularly the statement she quoted from virtual communitarian Howard Rheingold “One point of heart is worth ten points of intellect” – a skill I have observed in Leigh’s facilitation.