Saturday, November 15, 2008

FOC08 mini-conference - time to reflect

Search on our seminar URL using TouchGraph Google Browser

The FOC08 mini-conference has come and gone. I spent most of the week during the conference either attending the Educational Technology Users Group Fall Workshop (an annual f2f event) or preparing for it, so I was unable to participate in the many synchronous events organized by participants in this course.

Fortunately, many of these events were recorded and Leigh Blackall is encouraging us all to critique our events, so there are many other ways to engage in the conference. I've been busy catching up and commenting on some of the blog posts from our FOC08 group: Kay Lewis, Vida Thompson, Elaine Diddert have begun posting their reflections.

Our event, already described in early posts, was a 2-week asynchronous discussion and a group facilitation effort. This didn't quite fit the format of the
mini-conference but it suited our schedules, and we also believed that our discussion topic, Managing Multimembership in Social Networks, needed time and attention to unfold.

Sue Wolff
posted a great summary following our 2-week seminar, outlining the various themes and that emerged through our discussion, and highlighting the tools and strategies proposed by participants. I followed with this post that outlines some of our planning process. This wiki page also captures the planning steps and responsibilities we negotiated.
It's fascinating to read not only the themes and highlights of our discussion together but also the strategies you used to organize all of the information coming at us from different directions: survey, voice thread, forum. And that's a clever use of Marginalia annotation tool -- creating public contextual summaries. We need to experiment with that some more here in SCoPE. It would be great if creating summaries could become more of a group effort and Marginalia could be just the ticket smile

In a sense this seminar discussion has been a lesson in managing multimembership. We organized this event as part of the Facilitating Online Communities mini-conference, a "capstone" activity of sorts for the FOC08 course offered through Otago Polytechnic. Their courses are available on Wikieducator (if you haven't already joined!). Our efforts to spread the word about the seminar meant connecting with several communities. Here are a few: We also spread the word through our personal networks using email, twitter, blogs, public calendars, etc, prompting for participation in the survey and suggesting people mark their calendars. We decided on the multimembership tag for our seminar as a way to round up some of our contributions. This twemes page shows a few tweets and delicious bookmarks related to this event, for example. A Google blog search on multimembership yields a number of entries. The SCoPE Pageflake is another view our community activities, including the latest posts to this forum. I was really excited to see reference to our seminar discussion in other venues, such as these blog posts. These individuals did not contribute directly to our forum discussion or Voice Thread so we were not aware of their peripheral participation until they posted to their blogs. Now we can all benefit from their reflections that they share openly. I think these blog post examples really speak to the management strategies we have been addressing, especially one that Sue highlights: blog or write to make sense of all that we are taking in.

Whew! That was a lot of linking smile

I would like to thank members of the
"facilitation team" for the fantastic experience! Sue Wolff, Jeffrey Keefer, Bronwyn Stuckey and I plan to do some debriefing about this event. It's definitely something we should write about! We had several planning meetings in advance, defined our roles quite carefully, and discussed our strategies to ensure all aspects were covered (forum facilitation, voice thread facilitation, promotion, survey design and analysis, wiki minder, etc).

Perhaps our experiences with team planning and facilitation will become a useful resource for SCoPE and others communities. Part of that debriefing will be about next steps. Is this a seminar topic we should revisit next year? What about a special interest group? Questions to ponder. thoughtful
Our facilitation group still needs to schedule the "debriefing" meeting I mentioned. I'm sure the how could the event have been facilitated better question will become clear once we have an opportunity to put our heads together.

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