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.  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.  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.