Sunday, February 3, 2008

Facilitating Online Learning Communities: Assignment 4

I joined an open access course last year: Facilitating Online Learning Communities. I am now officially enrolled and am in the process of completing the four assignments.

Assignment 4:
Reflection on your facilitation of two Elluminate meetings for midwives.

Reflection on first session.

Reflection on second session.

Concluding thoughts about introducing midwives to Web 2.0, social networking and online communities of practice.
  • Keep things simple. Whilst I am very excited about the potential of tools such as Elluminate for networking, the general midwifery population may barely be able to email. Michele Martin puts it succinctly in her post 'Venturing outside my Web2.0 bubble' when she urges us to think like newbies to the Internet and remember that our experience may be very different to that of a newbie.
  • So when I am trying to engage midwives with the concepts of online networking and communities in forums such as my column for the New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, it is as well to 'get back to basics' as Jeff Utchet says in his post. This may include talking about things as 'simple' as different browsers, how to email or search for information.
  • Midwives will need a lot of support to engage with online communities. Scaffolding' and moderation will be vital if midwifery online communities are going to develop. I know that Gilly Salmon's theory of moderation is quoted ad nauseum, but I really feel that it is extremely relevant in this case with midwives on the whole being at the stage where they need lots of technical and social support to use Web 2.0 for learning. How support is provided to midwives who are at a distance may be very challenging. But I was really struck by one very small success of the first Elluminate session I held.
  • One of the participants had minimal Internet skills, so another participant came to her house for breakfast and showed her how to use Skype and Elluminate so she could join the session. This models Nancy White's theory of learning by 'looking over a shoulder'. This should appeal to midwives who learn by watching and then doing. This may be difficult at first, but as more midwives with Internet skills network with those who do not, hopefully online communities of practice will develop. This may also be where screen share programs such as Yuuguu come into their own - virtual 'looking over a shoulder' learning.

Image: 'edu-tained' David Pham


Michele said...

Great post, Sarah! Right now I'm considering getting something like GotoMeeting to use with people. It's webinar software that lets me pass control back and forth between me and other people who are in the session, so I could show how to do a specific task and then pass control over to them so they can try it out while I watch and can make comments, etc. That may not be an option for you because of the cost, but I think it's a way to provide technical support to people when you can't physically be there that might be helpful. If I do it, I'll keep you posted. :-)

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you very much for that, Michele. I'd be very interested to hear how you get on. At the moment, if people have technical difficulties, I walk them through things by phone. But that is only really possible if they are local-I could not afford to do this with people who lived overseas. So I would be really pleased to have a 'play' with any screen share programs, if anyone wants to join me.