Thursday, December 18, 2008

Feedback on the FOC08 course

The Facilitating Online Communities course has wrapped up and Leigh has asked us for some feedback.

1) What were the most enjoyable aspects of the course?
  • The Elluminate sessions I attended, which is odd for me to say because I don't always enjoy synchronous sessions.
  • The flurry of activity at the beginning. Leigh left a lot of decisions about how to proceed up to the participants. It's interesting to watch people self organize.
  • I've connected with new people through this course. I will continue to follow their blogs and their lives through twitter.
  • The Second Life tour with Jo Kay.
  • The mini-conference, even though I wasn't able to participate in many events except the one our team organized.
  • The wiki -- so easy to keep tabs on what's happening (or supposed to be happening, at least!)
2) What were the most challenging aspects of this course?
  • Some of the Google Group discussions were a little difficult to follow, but that's to be expected when we come to the course with different learning needs.
  • Keeping up with the course-related blog posts. Actually this was more a challenge with zoning in on course-related blog posts. If I had organized this better from the beginning -- RSS feeds from individual blog searches on FOC08 -- it would have been more efficient.
  • Remaining engaged for so many weeks.
3) Did the course meet your expectations? How or how not?
This is a tough question. I think I adjusted my expectations as the course rolled out. From the beginning though I was pretty clear in my head that my interest in this course was as much about the process as it was about the content. I DID expect that there would be more active participation throughout the duration of the course though.

4) What improvements would you suggest?
A big part of learning to facilitate is through modelling. Leigh has a real gift with language -- clear, warm, and up beat. I was quick to open Leigh's messages and read blog posts because I was so curious about how he conducted himself as a facilitator. We can learn a lot by watching good facilitation in action. So I think the course could be improved by having more opportunities for facilitators to model their skills.

I also think the topic of this course lends itself to being more reflexive, if that makes any sense. This recommendation is related to the above comment about modelling. Treat the course like it is an online community, even though this might involve a bit of role play.

I think the course would have benefited from more of a rhythm -- perhaps a set schedule for synchronous sessions, a group email to launch each module/week and another to bring closure to a topic before moving on. Perhaps participants could sign up to take on that task. 

It would be useful to have a more efficient way of managing the course communication through blogs. Or perhaps this could be incorporated into the first assignment.

5) Any other comments?
I wonder about the title of the course: Facilitating Online Communities. I'm not sure what it should be, but thinking back on the assignments and module topics it seems the course topic is much broader. Maybe it should be broken down into 2 courses?

Wordle image by Amy Lenzo

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