The Craft of Facilitating (Online and Beyond)

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A few weeks ago I started working as the project lead and course wrangler for the Mozilla Drumbeat project, the P2PU School of Webcraft. I’m still reeling from the coolness of being able to combine my interests in technology, the open web, open and alternative education and amazing people into one amazing job.

Despite getting the chance to visit Vancouver and Whistler in British Columbia, Canada for the Mozilla Summit where I met some amazing Mozillians, Drumbeaters and P2PUers in person, most of my encounters with volunteers, peers and colleagues take place online. We use mailing lists, wikis, Skype and community calls as the primary means of communication and while it is amazing how technology has brought us closer together, we still have to communicate and listen and get through agendas and make decisions.Ā  That’s difficult enough in real life. Via electronic media, regardless of the synchronicity, this can be very difficult.

I’m still getting used to the collaborative nature of wikis, and learning to deal with the pauses that need to happen on conference calls to signal that someone’s finished speaking and that there’s a gap free for the next person to speak into. In some ways I wish for the traditions of CB radio where someone says “Over” to convey that they’ve finished what they needed to say.

So, recognising that I need to lead online meetings, and will be working over mailing lists and forums to come to decisions, and will be both leading and assisting in the running of online courses, getting better at this facilitation things sounds like a great idea.Ā  Which is why I’ll be experimenting with more online learning of my own in the form of the Facilitating Online course run by Otago Polytechnic through wikieducator.org.

7 thoughts on “The Craft of Facilitating (Online and Beyond)

  1. Hi Pippa, I am just going down the course lists and joining blogs along the way. I can see that you know your way confortably around the technology. I am sure that your experience will also be helpful to beginners like myself and you seem to have an interesting combination of jobs, some of which I do not really understand, for example the Mozilla drumbeat project I look forward to finding out about them as the course progresses.
    Kind regards
    Therese

  2. chriswoodhouse

    Hi Pippa,
    I’m pleased to see another person who’s not an educator on the course. Not that I’ve got anything against educators you understand šŸ˜‰ It’s just that I’m looking forward to getting a balance of all sorts of reasons to facilitate online. Honest!
    Looking forward to working with you.
    Cheers,
    Chris

    • Hi Chris! I have to apologise for not being entirely non educatorly! – I am an “educator” in some ways, I teach in a technical college in Berlin – but until recently I didn’t begin formal training. I’m slowly studying the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Teaching and Learning at University of Southern Queensland. My background’s in tech, but I’ve slowly drifted towards project management, online community facilitation and online education.

  3. Tracy Pemberton

    Hi Pippa, Sounds like you know your stuff! I know that it is hard having communication problems when I am sitting with a group of people. How to do it when a person may be completely distracted with other things going on that you can’t see or hear is a challenge.

  4. @Pippa Just a quick note to say that if you want to enrol as a formal student because you are Australian, you get charged the same fees as a Kiwi…so just drop Catherine a line and she’ll sort that out with you šŸ™‚

    @Tracy One of the things I hear people say about online teaching is that you have no ‘control’ over what people are doing when they are supposed to be interacting with you…how do you know they are listening or learning? But I have to smile when people are saying that because how do you know if people are listening or learning in a F2F class? When I remember what some of my midwifery students got up to in class its a miracle they ever passed…or maybe it’s a reflection on my teaching…that it just wasn’t engaging enough šŸ™‚

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