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November 14, 2008

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It was a pleasure working with you, Michele; and I agree, you deserve a break.

It was great working with you, too, Harold--and I think we ALL deserve a break! :-)

Hi Michele,
Kudo's to you, Tony and Harold for a ground breaking online learning experience. I appreciate the time you took to put together your reflections about the course. When I read it, I understood more clearly the value of the Ning platform over other options. I'm introducing social media tools to an existing network I'm involved with. This network in my humble opinion needs something to keep them a network so your comments about Ning were esspecially helpful.
All the best,
Brent

Thanks, Brent--I'll look forward to seeing what experiences you have with Ning. I definitely think that there's a need to take a more active facilitation role in trying to create community than I originally thought when I set up my first Ning community a year ago. People have to feel like they're there to DO something, otherwise it's very hard to hold it together.

One other thing I'd add to my list of lessons learned for the next time is that I'd also do a better job of showing people how they can keep track of what's happening in Ning by using RSS and email. I think we assumed too much about people's ability to find the ways to do this and that may have contributed to people not participating as much, too.

First of all, I also agree that you, Harold, and Tony did a great job of creating "on the fly".

You comments about the facilitator role: as a participant, sometimes I look for the facilitator or instructor's comments to reinforce my learning. I did not feel compelled to do this and I think the section at the top of the course did a good job to pointing learners in different directions. Once in those forums, various people took the role of facilitator (i.e. the francophone group. I did not look for Harold's comments--although they were useful---as much as Stephane's). I think this would be different in a CMS.

Secondly, I agree that there needed to be breathing room, not only to catch up on work, but to digest what I was learning. I think a one week, with two weeks off would be a better format. Of course, this means more coordinating on the part of organizers as to keep momemtum going, you would need to send out e-mail reminders at the start of a different topic. I think that I was a bit on information overload by the final week, even though it was a topic I was very interested in.

Finally, I would be careful about the structure. One advantage of this course was the flexibility so that Paul could volunteer and a live presentation could be popped into the existing structure. On the other hand, as you said, knowing what features worked and replicating them into a similar course makes it easier for people to follow, especially those that are new to all of the technologies.

One final note, and I think this is a common problem with any "free" or networking software. I had a problem with the Ning technology on my computer and I was able to work around it. However, the common problem we have at work is getting ITS to buy into unsupported software just because of these types of cases. It might help to have some guidelines or some links to advice in case a participant does have trouble with the technology. Even having a space called "trouble shooting" in which members of the network can give tips would be helpful. I think most people who are learning the technology are afraid to ask for that advice and just give up when the technology isn't working for them.

Again, thanks for the great learning opportunity.

Hi Virginia--thanks for the great feedback, particularly the info on troubleshooting the technology. That's something that I completely didn't address in my thinking (Duh!) and from the gate, it's something that needs to be included, not just in the forums, but in the initial emails to invite people to join the community. If they have trouble even getting in, then everything else is kind of moot!

I'm just getting back to your blog after an absence (end of semester grading is finally caught up!). The WL event was wonderful.

The greatest thing about the event it was its social nature. I was skeptical at first... As a student, I hated "group" projects, class discussions, and ice breakers. Just give me the info, let me process it and do with it what is most valuable to me! But I learned so much from other "regular folks" in my field. I never would have heard their voices in a more traditional online course. I am still in contact with some of my coursemates (learning-event-mates???) planning to use some of the tools we learned about in WL to offer round-the-world interaction for our students! (If only the school calendars for the northern and southern hemispheres would sync up!)

I wondered about the drop-off in participation in the later weeks as well. I even fell victim to it. I knew I wasn't participating as much, but I just didn't get into the process as much in the later weeks. Read all the posts, but didn't contribute much. Don't know why... It wasn't the content. Those were some of the topics which were of the greatest interest to me. A mystery.

Anyway, great work! I'll be watching your blog for future "learning events." And what's with the name, anyway??? (I'm taking an online learning event. I'm checking the posts in my learning event. My fellow learning event-er made a great point in her post about...) Kidding...

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