Tag Archives: online communication

Online Facilitation: An email too far?

Speed Bump Sign

A few weeks ago, I ran an online facilitation workshop with a group of teachers & their managers. Together they run a programme that is taught entirely online. As part of this, a draft of some online course protocols was on the table. Most of these had to do with the updating & editing of the courses, but one of the protocols had to do with teaching the courses. It proposed that teachers should use the Course Announcements forum (a News forum in Moodle, our LMS) at least once a week. In the past, some courses (certainly not all, don’t want you to get the wrong idea…) had underused the Course Announcements (and other forums). A rather heated discussion followed this proposal.

The opponents to this protocol seemed to have 2 main objections:

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Reply: Google Wave in a Sentence

I’ve been on Google Wave for less than 48 hours and a longer blog post is brewing. However I did just want to respond to a post by Mark Smithers today in which he described Google Wave in a Sentence as:

Google Wave is a tool that allows asynchronous communication (similar to email or discussion boards), semi-synchronous communications (similar to Twitter or FriendFeed) and synchronous communications (similar to instant messaging) all wrapped up with wiki-like capabilities for collaboration.

After only 48 hrs experience, really only abt 4 hours of actually poking about,  I am tempted to agree with his assessment that students and teachers could use Waves as collaboration spaces. However, I’d like to see the file sharing capabilities first. This is switched off at the moment.

I’m less impressed with some of the mass waves with 300+ participants – they feel very chaotic. Mark calls them standing waves – I wonder if tsunamis is more apt? The Educators Directory Wave is a prime example. Everyone is talking (literally over each other as this is possible in a Wave), threads are difficult to discern, it’s hard to recognise individual contributions and the whole thing is liberally sprinkled with polls and maps. I wasn’t surprised when at about 4pm Google Wave warned me that this wave was about to explode.

So, after the initial 48 hours, here is my Google Wave description in a sentence:

Google Wave is like a wiki done by amateurs, a text chat with 120 participants and a discussion forum without a facilitator, all rolled into one.

I’m sure this will improve as we get the hang of making waves…

If you want to get in touch and improve with me, I’m nz.catspyjamas [at] googlewave.com

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7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

I’m just starting up a new session of my Online Facilitation course and came across this resource I created over a year ago. Thought I’d share it with you all.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

1. Use the subject line
2. Quote the other participants
3. Check in (nearly) every day
4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
5. Use links
6. Use Right Mouse Click
7. Post in the right place

Picture by Flickr user DailyPic

1. Use the subject line
Be descriptive in your subject line. It should be an accurate summary of your post. If you are replying to someone else’s post, also adjust the subject line. “Re: Topic 1” tells others nothing new, but “Re: Topic 1 / My thought” does.

2. Quote the other participants
Quote the particular phrase or part of the post that you are responding to by saying for example: John posted: “Bla-di-blah” and I agree with him because…
By saying only “I agree with John”, you will make the other participants browse through 50 of John’s posts to find out what you are agreeing with.

3. Check in (nearly) every day
It is a good habit to check into the online discussion on a regular basis, particularly if a discussion is only designed to run for a couple of days. For instance, at the beginning and end of a working day, 15 minutes each time. This will help you keep up with what’s happening online. Log in only once a week and you may end up with a MMM (Multiple Message Mountain).

4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
You’ve probably experienced that reading from a screen is more tiring and difficult than reading from paper. Spare yourself and your fellow participants the headache, and highlight key phrases & keywords by making them bold. If you are making a number of points, then order them in a list. This will make it easier for others to scan your messages.

5. Use links
You will undoubtedly run across a web page, blog post or article that you want to share with others. Avoid copying and pasting entire sections into your post. Quite apart from the copyright issues, it seems unfair to add to your fellow participants reading load. Instead quote or paraphrase the pertinent parts, relate why you think it is significant or useful and include a link to the original resource.

6. Use Right Mouse Click
If someone has included a link in their post, click on the link with your right mouse button and select the option Open Link in New Window. This will open the link in a new browser window and give you continued access to the discussion forum in the existing window. In newer internet browsers, you can choose to Open Link in New Tab.

7. Post in the right place
Make sure that the forum or discussion thread you are posting to, is the correct place for your post. If it is a social enquiry, it should go in the Social Forum, if it is a request for help, the Help Forum. If it is a reply but the messages have gone a bit off-topic, you may want to start a new topic.

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