As mentioned in my last post, I've undertaken an open, online course hosted on wikieducator. The course is entitled Facilitating Online Communities. In this first week, the active members of this course have been having many discussions within the google groups email forum. These email conversations have opened a new world of thought for me.
How do you facilitate a community to encourage participation by many, when open registration will result in a range of abilities and needs? There needs to be the chance for lurking if that is what the participant wishes, but the facilitator would no doubt want engaged interaction to enable learning. I know that in any group situation there will be members who dominate the conversation, how do we encourage the "shy" to contribute. As a teacher in face to face environments this is a little easier. You can "see" the people not engaging. Whereas online, are they lurking, or are they not there at all?
The other train of thought the course has inspired is the old question of which tool is best. In this first week we have been exposed to wiki, blog, email forum and RSS aggregator. These are not new concepts to me, but to many in the course they are. So the thought is which tool is the best for open online communication. I will hold my judgement on this until the course completion.
What excites me about this course is the opportunity to engage and network with a range of talented and knowledgeable individuals. I am yet to be involved in a network or community where I did not learn. This is connectivism at it rawest.
Have you been involved in online learning before? Leave a comment about your experiences.