Friday, August 8, 2008

First blogging workshop

Last night was the first night of a series of three workshops on how to blog that I am presenting with a colleague, Lyn Blair. The workshops are two hours each and are being offered in a face-to-face context in a computer laboratory.

Last night's program - objective
  • Be able to describe what a blog is.
  • Be able to find blogs that interest you.
  • Be able to use a RSS feed to monitor blogs that interest you.
  • Be able to describe the aim and purpose of your blog.
  • Have your blog set up with appropriate settings.

Make-up of the group
We had about 13 people at the workshop - most were educators from Otago Polytechnic. I don't think we would have been able to manage many more people than that. There was a mixed ability of people in the class but at the very least, everyone knew how email worked. A few of the group members were already well down the 'technological' road, but the majority needed one-on-one education about RSS, readers and so on.

What we achieved
My personal reflections
  1. The first challenge we faced was that we couldn't get the big slide projector working properly for various reasons so we were not able to demonstrate things on a big screen. We managed without, but it wasn't ideal. Whilst I found that frustrating, I was pleased how well Lyn and I were able to cope with that obstacle. But the moral of the story is, as always: check your equipment works well in advance of your teaching session.
  2. The two hour time frame was enough - I was getting tired by the end of the session.
  3. I wasn't sure how much material we would get through so was prepared to be flexible. But I did hope everyone would have set up their blogs, even if it was only at a basic stage, by the end of the evening. I didn't get to walk people through the settings, so will do that in greater detail next week.
  4. It was important to have a discussion about what blogs were and what people wanted to achieve in their blogs - that set the scene and gave Lyn and I an idea of what people wanted to achieve. It also gave us an idea of people's pre-existing knowledge and experience.
  5. I had a little trouble articulating exactly what blogs and RSS were but found the Common Craft 'plain English' videos to be a wonderful resource for clarifying my explanations.
  6. I hadn't factored into my planning how much time it is going to take between workshops to support people both by commenting on their blogs and answering emails. So if you are planning to run similar workshops, have a think about how you will mentor people with their new blogs.
Passing on the benefit of my experience
I have written out this rather lengthy reflection because I have been asked to share my experiences with several other people who are planning similar workshops in Australia and the USA. When I get around to it, I will also put all my resources into Wikieducator.

Image: '3 Generations, 1 MacBook' lyzadanger


Minhaaj said...

great workshop. i never thought midwifery can smarten people up :D

Sarah Stewart said...

Well, there you are, Minhaaj - us midwives are multi-skilled! :)

Claire Thompson said...

Sarah, I'm thinking about your point #6. I wonder if your network could help in a loose way. If you had a post here where the comments section was dedicated to support type questions from workshop participants, some of your loyal followers could subscribe and help answer questions as they come up. Just a thought.

Thanks for sharing this, I'm definitely learning from your learning!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that suggestion, Claire. I'll see how things go. I do think it is really important that new bloggers are encouraged because that helps keep motivation going. I had that sort of support from people like Leigh Blackall, Sue Waters and Michelle Martin and that made a huge difference to my learning and the sustainability of my blogging.

The other thing I could do is publish the addresses of all the new bloggers here so that my network can pop by to say 'hello'.