By Jim Shimabukuro
(Note: This is the second of two reports on the iFacilitate 2012 online workshop. I participated as a student and opted for the certificate option to make sure that I stayed the course. I created a temporary blog for the coursework, and the excerpts below link to posts in that blog. Click here to see the first report. -js)
The five-week workshop ended last Thursday. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience. Greg Walker and his team put together an event that challenged and inspired all of us to address key issues in online teaching and learning with an emphasis on facilitating discussions. As expected, I emerged from the experience with far more questions than answers, and I’ll be addressing some of these in future ETCJ articles. One that remains sticky for me concerns lurking.
The common wisdom is that the ratio for active participants to lurkers is 1 to 10, i.e., only 10 percent of participants actively engage in posting and commenting in online forums. This means that the vast majority, 90 percent, lurk. Is this simply a given, a natural phenomenon that can’t be changed? If yes, then why do we expend so much energy trying to get all our students to become active participants? It seems we’re swimming against a current with no expectation of success.
If, however, lurking is a problem, then what are the implications when educators themselves are lurkers?
I don’t have the answers. My gut tells me that the 1:10 ratio is set in stone. Ninety percent will lurk, no matter what. Furthermore, this ratio may not be necessarily bad. In other words, it may not impact the quality of discussions. In fact, it may be a critical factor for successful discussions. If this is the case, then our expectations for discussions may need to change. That is, the learning context may need to include extra-discussion activities to allow lurkers to express themselves. Here, social media may be the key, providing a wide range of back channel alternatives for lurkers to become active participants.
Thus, the majority may lurk in the main forum, but in a spectrum of side forums, they may be very active. It would be interesting to speculate about what and how these added dimensions add to the notion of discussions. Obviously, when live, we can’t fully participate in more than one channel at a time, but we’ll probably discover ways to include all the various dimensions into a single landscape, and the resulting multidimensional discussion will be a thing to behold.
In any case, here are excerpts that link to posts in my iFacilitate workshop blog:
Comments on Week 3 Resources: Facilitating Discussions
Posted on March 12, 2012
In “How to Build and Lead Successful Online Communities: How Is a Community Different from a Network?“, Nic Laycock (eLearn Magazine, Feb. 2012) says shared goals or “mutuality” is the glue in communities: “It is the mutuality of communities that leads to success.” It is “the, perhaps unspoken, bond that will draw people together into a more close association—one that has an intention of mutual advancement to benefit all.” (Click here to read the entire post.)
Comment on Scott and Greg’s Discussion: Where Is Technology Taking Mentoring?
Posted on March 15, 2012
Scott and Greg are having an interesting discussion in “Scaling Up Mentoring” (in Scott’s blog, Online Learning, 3.14.12). Scott asks, “Can we build a digital mentor?… This is technology that can intelligently design content based on world wide information so that we can do something useful: learn. The question is how?” He continues, “In a sea of world-wide information, we need a focus. We need a context for all the information out (Click here to read the entire post.)
Week 4: Comment on Herrington et al.
Posted on March 20, 2012
The ten-point definition provided by Jan Herrington, Ron Oliver, and Thomas C. Reeves in “Patterns of Engagement in Authentic Online Learning Environments” (Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 2 003 [19.1], 59-71) is a useful place to begin a discussion on authentic learning activities. When viewed as a process, the whole as well as the relationship among the different elements become clearer. (Click here to read the entire post.)
Comments on Week 4 Live Meeting: Authentic Online Learning
Posted on March 22, 2012
I’m relieved that I made it to the meeting on time. I was late to the first that I attended and managed to stumble my way through, finally getting my mike to work halfway through the session. (Sorry for all the commotion, Brent.) This, my second, wasn’t problem free. When I spoke, I kept getting a delayed echo effect in my headset. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because I chose stereo instead of mono in the setup. (Click here to read the entire post.)
Response to Week 4 Discussion Questions on Critical Thinking in Asynchronous Discussions
Posted on March 27, 2012
In his article, “Critical Thinking in Asynchronous Discussions” (International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, June 2005), Greg mentions the work that researchers at PSU have been doing with “guest facilitators.” By coincidence, in 1995, Morton Cotlar and I wrote a chapter* for a book that featured PSU’s Gerry Phillips as an electronic guest lecturer in Morton’s UH Manoa class. The lectures were delivered and the (Click here to read the entire post.)
Comments on Week 5 Readings: PBL
Posted on April 3, 2012
A useful starting point for SBL may be Elaine’s comment that “scenarios have been used successfully in many realms of education for hundreds of years” (“Scenario-Based Learning: A Commonly Accepted Way to Learn,” 2.3.11). In other words, we all use it in our personal lives as well as professionally as a means to generate critical thinking and effective decisions. It’s what we commonly refer to as a hypothetical situation, an example. When used in a (Click here to read the entire post.)
Comment on Summaries in Online Discussions
Posted on April 4, 2012
On the surface, the definition of a summary is straightforward. For me, it’s a concise reconstruction of the primary intent of a statement. From this perspective, we begin to realize its complexity. The difficulty is in the words “reconstruction” and “intent.” At best, we can only guess at a writer’s intent. That is, what s/he writes (sends, encodes) and what we read (receive, decode) isn’t always the same. As readers, we process (reconstruct) (Click here to read the entire post.)
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