The course has already enabled me to develop my instructional design and wiki editing skills. Now I am looking forward to further developing my facilitation skills, especially in the context of an open, online course. It's going to take quite a lot of juggling to make sure everyone has access to the course across a number of time zones, especially the real-time activities.
I think the challenge for me is going to be time-management. I must make sure I do not end up spending lots of unpaid hours supporting informal learners ie the participants who are not enrolled on the course and thus are not paying fees. The focus of my attention has to be the formal learners who are paying for support and assessment services. At the same time, I want to ensure that the informal learners enjoy themselves for several reasons:
- I wish to contribute to people's learning in the same way I have gained from others over the last couple of years;
- informal learners may end up being formal students.
Focusing on facilitation, not tools
I am really looking forward to seeing how the new course format pans out. I have integrated facilitation activities into the weekly schedule so that participants can practice as they go along, as opposed to leaving it until the end of the schedule and the final assignments. It will be interesting to see if that makes a difference to facilitation skills development, or whether the course ends up being a focus on tools, which is what I want to move away from.
The other thing that interests me is the difference in the feel of this course compared to last year. Last year the course was nearly totally made up of 'newbies'. We had a fabulous time but I felt we focused on the tools as opposed to developing our online facilitation skills. This year we have a number of very experienced people joining the course. Initially, this made me feel very nervous - what on earth could I teach them?! People like Carole McCulloch are far more experienced then me. What I am hoping will happen is that people will organise themselves (this may need a little input from me as facilitator) into mentoring relationships so that the experienced people support the newbies...which will also lighten my workload.
This would lead to a nice research question...what motivates people to mentor and provide unpaid help to others in the online environment?
Questions that I want to answer
I am planning to write a joint article with Leigh Blackall (who originally developed 'Facilitating Online) about the course and how it has performed and evolved over the last four years. I would especially like to compare our experiences with the other open courses that are currently available like the 'Connectivism' course. Here are a few questions I would like to investigate further and integrate into our article.
- What makes people enrol as informal learners?
- How many people complete the course? What influences them to complete or drop out?
- How many people enrol as formal students? What influences participants to become enrolled?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of this model of delivery to the facilitator and institution?
- What are the financial costs involved?