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February 14, 2007

online community with 5323

We had our second online, synchronous class for 5323. Fortunately, I had less technical trouble this time - since I knew not to log in as myself, but as my husband from our home computer. This week we had the discussion questions before-hand which was very helpful and also had our first online community exemplar presentation.

Chat Discussions
The discussion we had about the readings (in a small group (assigned) and with an assigned moderator) went a little bit better this week, although I really coming to the conclusion that chat is not an effective way to debate/discussion complex ideas. Poor typing skills, disjointed responses all make for a very chaotic and ineffective discussion experience. I find I'm de-motivated by this option. This is such important information for me, since I hope to implement some of the strategies we use in 5323 into my own courses. It's been truly great to have this opportunity to try things out and determine the advantages and disadvantages.

The readings have also been really great! I feel as though everything we have read so far was written specifically to help me - for both designing courses, faciliating courses, and conducting educational research.

Exemplar Presentation from DeFoe, Hauer and Smith
The exemplar presentations were really impressive. I think having too many examples to cover dilutes the impact. I would have liked to have spent more time on one example - and the chat discussion for my assigned exemplar group was really ineffective - maybe if we had had more time, it would have been better. I did get the feeling we were just sort of starting to get some converstation momentum when we had to go back to the common room.

We present next week!
My group presents next week and it's always a little nerve racking to follow a great presentation. My group has a great idea, though very different from this week's presentation - which I think is good. It will be nice to have a contrast of topics.

Well, off to grade and write exams...

February 8, 2007

synchronous discussion in 5323

Monday we participated in a synchronous discussion from remote locations. A week earlier, we had tested several discussion formats, while all in the same room, with a computer on our laps. But Monday was our true first test at communicating as a large group from our own locations.

Trouble entering the common room
I had all kinds of trouble joining the common room. I finally logged off and logged back in as my husband, since we have different logins on our home computer and different settings. Because I routinely work from home one day a week, my settings are for connecting to my office network. Even though I did not connect the VPN or try in anyway to connect to the network, I still believe there is something about my settings that gets in the way of many things. So, after logging in as my husband, I was able to join the common room with no difficulty.

Large group synchronous discussion
Once I finally made it into the common room, there was some small chit chat about going to a small group - one of us had been assigned moderator. We were supposed to discuss our topic and check back with the large group in I think 20 minutes.

Well, because I entered the room late, I was sort of confused and anxious to jump right in, so I figured out that I was in group 2 and that I was the moderator. Sadly, I did not scroll down on the class schedule page, so did not realize that there were a list of questions we were supposed to answer. So, we ended up answering the questions in reverse order...

Small group synchronous discussion
The small group synchronous discussion started off very slowly. What is difficult about using WebCT for synchronous discussion is that you cannot tell if someone is typing a response. So, I would pose a question and sit there - wondering if my teammates were responding, if it was taking them a long time to type or if we were all just sitting there waiting for someone else to respond. I found this to be very frustrating.

Once we were talking, there appeared to be a lag to the responses being posted, so the discussion, even with just a few people, ended up being very disjointed and ineffective at times. Not always, though, because I do feel our group was able to collaborate on the discussion topic, but there were awkward, ineffective moments, too.

What is synchronous discussion best used for?
From my limited experience with synchronous discussion, I believe they are best used for planning action or simple communications - not in depth discussions. When my exemplar group met late in the class, we were able to quickly and efficiently plan our strategy for our group project. I do use IM with MSN, and again, it's nice to have this option for quick, simple discussions, but less helpful for debates. I think conference calls or polycom are much better way to meet to discuss larger issues.

Compared to asynchronous discussions
If I compare my experience in 5323 to my experience in 5101, I have to say that so far the discussions have been more successful with the asynchronous format. Asynchronous has it's problems, too, but it discussions in the asynchronous format seem more organized and thoughtful. I may change my mind as the semester goes on...

February 3, 2007

summary of first two weeks of my learning community

Our group discussion finished up it's first topic today. We were able to come up with two very exhaustive lists of our definitions of both creativity and intelligence. We also included many additional comments from our discussion in our final summary report.

The moderator for our first discussion was "the engineer". He did a very good job of keeping us on task and organizing our thoughts/comments for our summary report.

I find that I still am feeling sort like an individual providing my comments, but not necessarily like I'm a part of a collective community. I'm very curious to find out if this feeling changes. We are still really new to each other - and even though we have had a lot of interaction already, I don't think we are cohesive group just yet.

technical trouble

Since I couldn't figure out how to copy my RSS feed...I was advised to try the U blog creator, so I've switched from blogger to the U blog. Hopefully, I am able to successfully provide my RSS feed.

first descriptions of learning community

For a class I'm taking, Epsy 5101 Creativity and Intelligentce, we must communicate online with an assigned group. Every two weeks we have a different topic and rotate the moderator role. The moderator is also responsible for summarizing the main points of the group and posting it to a common room for the the other groups to read. My group is a very diverse community - engineers, school counselors, educators, scientists - all coming together to better understand what creativity is, how we can foster it and what its purpose is.

The current discussion has focused on the definition of creativity and the idea that all people are creative - maybe the expression of creativity is environment or problem specific. One person described an experience from the 5th grade that really changed the way she thought of herself as a thinker and problem solver - so as a group we all agreed that single events from childhood can have profound effects on how we see ourselves and the creative chances we are willing to take.

I'm excited about my group. We are still getting to "know" each other and this is causing our comments to be a little guarded - although I thought the person sharing her 5th grade experience really helped us all open up a bit more.

As I menioned, we rotate moderators every two weeks. I'm curious to find out when I'm the moderator if the experience is different. I'm also interested to see if the summaries of the other groups and if I find that I feel a part of that "larger community" as well.

I think it's interesting that this part of the course is not necessarily to create community - but rather to provide another way to discuss course material. I wonder if one needs to intentionally try to create community before it is truly successful - or is it better to let it develop naturally?
Posted by Amy Pittenger at 12:52 PM 0 comments