At the beginning I really thought I wouldn't. It was just so over my head. I was scared literally from day one in July. Looking at the wikieducator site for the first time, having to set up a blog, figure out what RSS Feeds were, and then try and read what seemed like hundreds of introductions from people from all over the world who seemed to know so much more than me. I was terrified, what had I got myself into this time?
The very week the course began, I had just heard my job was on the line - of the three of us in our little section at the tertiary institute I work at, one of us was going to be made redundant, so my motivation/interest was at an all time low. As it turned out one of the others took voluntary redundancy, but with that came the added stress of having to take over subjects I had never taught before as well as my own (for other teachers reading this you can appreciate the extra prep now that was required etc.) To be frank it was a nightmare...
Luckily I had Kay Lewis to help me along. Kay also works at the same institute but in a different area. We decided to buddy up from Day 1 as we were both feeling very out of our depth. If it wasn't for Kay I probably would have pulled out in about week 3.
So in this very public arena - thanks Kay. You were my rock over this semseter, I really could not have done this without your gentle nudging to meet each week to see what had to be done, or what was coming up. I know in the end I also helped you along too, but you were the initial booster to get me working on this. My heartfelt thanks and appreciation Kay :-)
What have I got out of FOC 08?
I fully appreciate now why there is the need for a paper about facilitation of online communities - at the beginning I did not appreciate really what a facilitator was. After the event I facilitated with Kay however, I certainly did! Appreciating that difference between the teaching role that I currently hold with the very different facilitation role that I have witnessed Leigh hold (and what I briefly did for a scary 30 minute period!) has been an eye opener.
I said as a comment in Joy's blog that:
"the practice was so much better than any theory could have done. What better wayThat says it all really. Leigh really wanted us to appreciate the difference between teachers, facilitators and moderators and having to do it in reality really was the best way for us to learn I believe. The terrifying thought and anticipation of being the facilitator was, on reflection, much worse than the reality (even though as I have already said I could have been much better prepared).
to find out what a facilitator does than to try and be one!"
What else did I learn? The different online communities such as Second Life, Facebook and LinkedIn, blogospheres and online forums such as Travelblog have opened a new world of opportunity to me. Ideas fly through my head now as to what I could do for my students in my current blended delivery classes, (and for the fully online students I hope to teach in the future).
I know my downfall through the paper was not reading enough of others blogs, making comments and creating a network even after FOC 08 has finished. However I have endeavoured to comment on some other blogs over the last couple of weeks (after gentle prodding from Leigh). I know I have not done enough in this area, my only excuse being lack of time to get on to it, focussing on "what had to be done", over "what would be good to do if only there was more time".
Thanks finally to Leigh. I know I have not been the easiest student to "facilitate". He would ring my cell phone and I would hardly ever be in a position to talk to him! Either in class or unable to answer because I was in the car picking up one of the kids, or in the middle of the supermarket with my 20 month old in tow, not a great time to talk as you can imagine :-) The lovely detailed messages he would leave me however, making sure I knew what was expected of me in the coming weeks, really did keep me focussed. I think you did a great job Leigh, from someone who really wasn't that motivated at the beginning, your help and guidance turned me around!
Now I wait to hear if I have "passed" this paper to add to the three others I have already completed towards my Graduate Certificate in Applied eLearning. If I get this one I only have two more papers to go. At least then I can say I'm over half way there now.
For those who may be continuing on this eLearning journey: Kay, Joy etc, I'll see you next year!