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Online Communication

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Michelle Kennedy

on 24 February 2013

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Transcript of Online Communication

Michelle Kennedy Online Communication
OLTD 503 Philosophy of Online Education Seminar Experiences Experience of an Online Moderator Wall Wisher Voice Thread Facebook Google Drive Bitstrips Online Educational Tools http://padlet.com/ http://voicethread.com/ http://www.bitstripsforschools.com/ http://www.facebook.com/ https://drive.google.com/ Voki Delicious Weebly Twitter Bubbl Creating Communities https://twitter.com/ http://www.weebly.com http://www.voki.com/ https://bubbl.us/ http://www.ourstory.com/ Creating Communities Through
Storytelling http://www.dipity.com/ http://storify.com/ Our Story Tiki-Toki http://www.tiki-toki.com https://delicious.com Creating Communities Storify Dipity Storybird http://storybird.com/ http://michellelearnsonline.weebly.com/503-online-communication.html read about my foray into the world of OLTD 503 "The *big* question I considered today was discussion forums and whether or not they are effective communication/learning tools. My conclusion: DFs are not necessarily effective for everyone all the time. Discussion forums are convenient and provide an accessible space for thought exploration.  They can also be a space for providing instruction or information. They can be a place to house readings and links. For me, DFs haven't inspired consistently engaging dialogue. In theory, I believe they could but I've found many posts (my own included) to feel disconnected or used to concur with another point of view. 
For some learners, working through thoughts in writing provide for meaningful learning experiences. For others, post *quotas* are burdensome and uninspiring."
(L.Mann, 2013) Discussion Board~Information Overload “Depending on the level of technical proficiency in my class, there are several options for an online icebreaker. I might open a gallery where we could share photo albums, or I might hold a synchronous sessions where each participant is allotted time to display one image and discuss how it is representative of personal characteristics. You could set up a survey where each participant contributes two truths and a lie, participants take the survey, and results are displayed. Participants could be split into pairs, asked to interview each other, and write a brief bio for posting. Frequently people are not comfortable directly discussing and revealing themselves.  As an introductory exercise the facilitator could begin a work of creative fiction, one sentence, and require that the cohort complete the story with each participant contributing a paragraph.”
(J.Finley, 2013) Seminar Discussions~A Place for Learning “I believe one of the largest barriers to online communication is literacy.  An online community can  have a diverse membership which means there will be a wide range in skill levels.  This can be an issue for online communication since it is primarily text based.  Now if you combine the fact that it can be difficult to read tone, there are bound to be misunderstandings and conflicts; people may not understand the question they are responding to.  These are my thoughts on this concept, my question for the group – in your personal experience have you found this to be the case, and if so how did you mitigate the conflicts that might arise?”
(S.Dhaliwa, 2013) Seminar Experiences~Discussions “Synchronous, asynchronous; online, blended or F2F; 21st century or the beginning of time...I feel like the best way to connect to each other is and has always been through sharing stories. As Thomas King suggests: "The truth about stories is that that's all we are.” The experience of sharing stories, or little sips of stories about ourselves asynchronously through Twitter and our wiki profile has shown me how powerful and tenacious storytelling is in an online environment. Never having taught online I have been curious about how community is built, stories shared and people connected. I love the variety of tools available for digital storytelling - even the simple, succinct Twitter has incredible connective properties.” The strength of a community, however, depends on its participants and their willingness to share their stories. 
(L. Mann, 2013) Seminar Experiences~Discussions What makes our community and connected learning great is the that each one of us brings a little knowledge to the plate, we come with our personal backgrounds, education and life experiences, and through discussion we get to ask questions, and show some of our thinking to others--sharing ideas, knowledge and understanding of topics. Seminar Experiences~Discussions E-learning must be effective in terms of student engagement, facilitating a deep understanding of content, providing personalized learning opportunities and constructing opportunities for students to connect to each other and the world outside of the classroom. The online environment is an optimal context for learning when it integrates technology to support content knowledge and pedagogical practice (Koehler and Mishra, 2009). Seminar Experiences~Technology & Design What I’ve noticed over the course of our seminar experiences is that online teaching not only requires mastering tasks common to traditional teaching, such as: teaching strategies, creating course content, and structuring the course, and classroom management (minimal with adult learners), but the teacher must also have a solid grasp of technology. The educator must mediate teaching duties via a blog, a learning management system (LMS) and with other tools. For example, does an instructor have the ability to moderate an online discussion, create a website, use an online survey? These skills, among many, help to enhance an online course. Seminar Experiences~Technology & Design “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
—Ryunosuke Satoro “Thanks Tracy. I think you have hit the nail on the head here as I agree that it is all about relationship building. I have noted since the onset of OLTD and our time together that I feel I have spent more time with each of you and somehow "know" you better from your posts and Collaborate sessions, along with course assignments, than I do my f2f students…” (M. O’Neil, 2013).
“Sonny, Yes at times we struggle with students' literacy skills. The bigger issue for us this year is how do we support students that would like to take online courses that have an IEP that requires adaptations within the learning…” (S. Peterson, 2013). Seminar Experience~Feedback This seminar reaffirmed the importance of providing ongoing and regular feedback to students. I’ve come to recognize that in carefully moderating online discussions and providing feedback to learners stimulates an ongoing conversations, allows the writer to feel heard and inspires more engaging dialogue. Seminar Experience~Feedback This seminar experience provided a new outlook on the use of discussion boards as an effective educational tool. It was refreshing to be placed in smaller groups—helping to alleviate the fatigue, and allowing users to feel more comfortable expressing themselves. The limited number of members allowed for contributors to be heard and to feel part of a community among learners—I believe as Kear (2011) suggests, that this “encouraged trust and openness, which are needed for genuine collaborative learning…”(Ch.4, p.3). At times, the passion, interest and/or enthusiasm about technology in education was communicated through our discussions, and at other times the dialogue was refreshingly critical about the nature of technology and learning. In all, a vast majority of the conversations took on a more authentic tone allowing the reader to detect the writer’s “voice”. Discussions~Information Overload? “Social presence cannot be determined solely by the number of posts written by a student. In my opinion, discussion boards are overused in courses as a method of communicating and assessing student participation in a class.  On one hand, good communication skills as expressed through text is a vital digital literacy to develop. On the other hand, how do discussion boards make accommodations for the different learning styles of students…?”
(S.Volk, 2013) Discussion Board~Information Overload At certain points in the OLTD program I have felt very overwhelmed by the abundant contributions of my classmates to the discussion forum. At times, the conversations seemed more about filling a quota of words and academic references than offering authentic conversation, and the large discussion group size was all the more daunting, leaving me feeling inadequate and suffering from discussion board fatigue. Discussions~Information Overload “…Recently, I was reading a psychology article about the relationship between multi-tasking and productivity.  One study found that it is possible to lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multi-task, because the reality is what you are doing is task-switching, not multi-tasking.  People can’t actually do more than one task at a time.  When you are constantly switching between tasks it takes more time to get things completed, you make more errors when switching, and if the tasks are complex, then the time and errors increase, and task switching is too taxing on the brain--the research shows that people can attend to only one cognitive task at a time...”
(M.Kennedy, 2013)  Seminar Discussions~A Place for Learning The discussion groups are a valuable place for learning. In his blog, Dave Cormier (2011) speaks to the real learning and best kind of knowledge happening in “…spaces between the things we can identify (the points) [facts]…” (Cormier, 2011). Yes, I am able to pick out specific facts and bits of information that are useful for my learning in the text, but the actual learning is happening in the conversations we share with each other. Seminar Experiences~Discussions “Laura, your post ,“I am passionate about integrating technology into my F2F teaching” resonated with me because…Are their benefit with anyone else’s’ f2f classrooms to shift part of it online using technology?” (J.Kloppenburg,2013)
“This is an interesting question for me.  When I first read it, my initial response was that I definitely feel more comfortable online.  Yet, when I really think about it, it truly depends on so many factors other than the environment.  I tend to be a watcher and am not one of those students who contribute a lot, f2f or online.  I admit that I much prefer a f2f discussion with a small group than this type of forum which can quickly become overwhelming...” M.Holtkamp (2013) responding to the question: Where do you, as a student, feel most comfortable?  Is it the learning environment (physical or virtual) or rapport which most significantly affects sense of belonging?   Seminar Experiences~Discussions “Yes, there are technologies that allow us to leverage connective possibilities that would be very difficult if not impossible f2f. There are other things (graphics, archiving) that are undeniable… but. And this is the but that doesn’t show up in the original syllabus, it’s not about any specific technology, but rather, understanding the pedagogies implicit in them, the things that can be leveraged from them, and the ways in which we can be successful in using them.
So. Focus on the things that are important… let the technologies come naturally when they’re needed” (Dave Cormier, 2010) Seminar Experiences~Technology I must say that I enjoy the creative and remarkable ways that we are able to use technology for educational purposes, but is it all about the technology? “It is easy to become overwhelmed and even discouraged in an online communication environment.  The choice of online tools is expansive. (S.Volk, 2013). Seminar Experiences~Technology “I love the collaborative nature of Realtime Board as a communication tool. I really sense that education ~ and life in general ~ has shifted towards connectedness and away from the values of individualism. Technology certainly supports this shift and social networking seems to be a natural response to the fundamental human need to belong. I can't imagine keeping knowledge *secret* and *tricky* anymore as it seemed education programs did when I was a child in the public school system. Online communication tools are designed to connect and problem solve. They don't support memorization and regurgitation of facts at all. 
Exploring online tools and the theory behind it this week has reinforced my belief in connectivism as an *age* of which we are part. I believe our students require effective tools with which they can participate as effective citizens in these connected, collaborative times.
(L.Mann, 2013) Seminar Experiences~Technology & Design “Something that has become clear to me this week is that online communication tools can be critical to promoting social, cognitive, and teaching presence in online learning.  During the live twitter feed, someone brought up the point that learners are just as responsible as the facilitator to contribute to the development of social presence by posting to discussions etc.  According to Bowman, ‘All participants share in the learning and the responsibility for furthering discussion…This also involves contributing further knowledge and experience, weaving discussion threads together to provide focus and facilitating harmonious collaboration.  The role of the student is that of active learner. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning and to create a learning community within the online classroom’”(http://bit.ly/Uc1sgN).
(M.Holtkamp, 2013) Seminar Experiences~Technology & Design Effective teachers never limit themselves to one solution or one practice—we are always exploring new and creative ways to improve student learning and to make our teaching practice relevant and meaningful. Integrating technological tools into the curriculum is becoming an inseparable part of good teaching, and it is necessary to enable all students to benefit from the dynamic and transformative nature of technology and connectedness.  Seminar Experiences~Technology & Design Over the course of OLTD 503, I’ve had several inspiring experiences that have broadened my view of online teaching and learning. In reading and listening to a number of intelligent, creative and knowledgeable individuals, I recognize that sometimes your best ideas come from someone else, or as Thomas Carlyle eloquently states, “The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.”
In reading Kear’s (2011) work, she notes that teaching has moved away from “delivery of content” to “support for learning” where the teacher’s role is stimulate and encourage the “intellectual and social needs” of the learner, while “helping [the learner] develop a positive and open attitude to learning” (Ch. 9, p. 2). I would say that the seminar experiences helped to illustrate these learning design principles. In mulling-over my experiences in the seminar forum, several stand out for various reasons: the technological wizardry that was utilized, the creativity, organization and planning that went into the design, and the thoughtful articulation of ideas that were presented. Seminar Experiences Seminar Experiences You ask about engagement in logging as a repository for reflection on learning… I know I am always more motivated to contribute when the topic is engaging and personally or professionally relevant…
This week I really enjoyed being able to hear everyone’s voices.  It adds a human touch when synchronous activities are not required which contributes to community building.
(J.Finlay, 2013) Seminar Experiences~Discussion Board Following Jean and Sonny’s week activities, their online survey considered the learners’ feelings of connectedness within the online community. The result demonstrated the a strong sense of community is possible among it members with the use of asynchronous tools; participants found that the activities made them feel more connected to the group (4.3/5). Seminar Experiences~Technolgoy Karen Kear (2011) speaks to online learners sense of community and the concept of social presence, “whether online communication feels ‘real’ to participants” which varies between individuals (Ch. 4, p.1). Seminar 4 with Sonny Dhaliwa and Jean Kloppenberg, directed learners to Karen Kear’s Chapter 6 Feeling Connected. They focused on “doing and creating” community with the help of some fantastic asynchronous online tools and creative ways of implementing them. Seminar Experiences~Technolgoy & Design Weebly Wordle Bitstrips OLTD Facebook Page Seminar Experiences~More Engaging Uses of Technology Welcome! Welcome to my reflections that bring a close to the course Online Communications. The purpose of this timeline is to synthesize my ideas and thoughts about online communication, through the experiences I had while participating in learner-led seminars. Ultimately, the my reflections hope to provide a solid view of the practical and theoretical approaches to online communication.
Initially, when I wrote my thoughts about the following question I was not struck by the sense of community that was evolving in OLTD:
Has your involvement with an online learning community (or group) “increased [your] sense of belonging among [that group’s participants]”? How did your sense of belonging evolve, or fail to evolve? Week five, hosted by Justin and Andrew, directed further reading to Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier among others. I found the Dave Cormier’s (2008) work intriguing as a theoretical approach to online education, in which he proposes that Rhizomatic Education is curriculum that is “not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process”  (Cormier, 2008, p.3). Cormier perceives the community as shaping the curriculum and one that is able to “construct a model of education flexible enough for the way knowledge develops and changes today by producing a map of contextual knowledge” (Cormier, 2008, p.4).
The seminar experience was an example of Rhizomatic education, where the instructor participated as a guide and provided a platform for learning. The learners co-constructed and shaped their own curriculum and learning opportunities. In using their own blogs, Twitter feeds and other web-based tools, learners were able to sync their understanding of the material with knowledge they gained from others in the community, and outside the community of learning. Rhizomatic Educational Theory Personalized learning opportunities were the backbone of the seminar activities. We were provided with a topic to explore and create our own path to discovery. The learning opportunities were tailored to the notion that students learn in different ways—which extend the idea that knowledge is something that is individual to the learner; the cognitive activities and learning styles of the student determine what he learns.
Each seminar group placed their individual signatures on the week long activities, and many seminar facilitators employed a variety of tasks that catered to individual students’ preferred learning styles, while engaging in activities that provided for authentic tasks and dialogue in a social or collaborative environment.
As learners moved through topics, the material was often presented asynchronously, allowing students to progress at their own pace and comfort level. This illustrates Bruner’s (1962) cognitive constructivist principles, in that the learner must take an active role in constructing knowledge through contextual and collaborative or social learning activities, and knowledge comprehension is only realized through “the learners’ own personal understanding” (Kear, 2011, p. 29). Personalized Learning Online learning must be effective in terms of student engagement, facilitating a deep understanding of content, providing personalized learning opportunities and constructing opportunities for students to connect to each other and the world outside of the classroom. This also relates to Moore’s (1996) transactional distance theory, whereby the education benefits are tremendous when students are given the opportunity to collaborate, take control over the direction of their learning and represent what they know in their own format.
In understanding the relationship between theory and practice is the realization that learning is dynamic in nature, and that learning must be meaningful and authentic. John Dewey’s (1916) perspective of learning from discovery extends this idea by stating that the learner develops meaning through his experiences. Learning is more than the acquisition of knowledge—it is the pursuit of contextualized meaning—that is attainable through self-discovery. Personalized Learning Opportunities “Imagine the best desktop computer you can imagine, slung over your shoulder like
a slim handbag, connected to the billions of resources available on the internet, supporting instant multimedia communications anywhere on the planet, and you have a picture of the tool available for education within the next decade. The development of such a tool makes it not just possible, but inevitable, that education of the future will become deeply personalized”
(Stephen Downes, 1998) Personalized Learning In seminar four, Jean and Sonny presented a variety of activities that focused on building community and social presence. Their planning involved bringing students together in a variety of clever asynchronous activities; a shared discourse about a memory from childhood, sharing personal profiles and funny pictures that represent who we are as individuals, along with discussion board activities.
The “icebreaker” activities allowed the members to introduce another side of ourselves to each other, for instance, I did not know that Tracy was an amazing baker! These activities allow for personalization and provide a more intimate portrait of other members, which help to set the tone for future interactions.
Social constructivism as conceptualized by Vygotsky’s (1978) illustrates that social interaction plays a key role in the development of cognition, and as Kear (2011) points out, “the focus is on learning as a social process,” in that we learn from interacting with peers, teachers, and others, essentially, we learn from “communication and collaboration” (Ch. 2, p.11). Building Online Communities In our seminar group, I noticed that one of the key consideration for creating welcoming spaces was at work on a regular basis. Kear (2011) suggests the ways in which we must encourage supportive interactions through use of netiquette. The rules of netiquette can make such a difference to group discussions online, considering the fact that you are unable to see others and cannot read their facial expression and tone. Teaching and modeling this practice is essential to encouraging agreeable behaviour and healthy online communities.
A key learning component of constructivist learning theories illustrates the importance and value of another person’s perspective, usually gained through interaction—a mindful perspective may in turn encourage appropriate behaviour in others. Building Online Communities I’ve come to recognize that it is tremendously important to build a sense of community and to help develop a social presence among online learners. In fact, this was the one of the key realizations I procured from these sessions.
For some learners, myself included, it is important to feel a sense of connection to the group as Kear (2011) notes, it “affects their learning and motivation” (Ch. 6, p.4).
Social constructivism view that the process of collaboration facilitates learners’ building understanding that wouldn’t be possible in a solitary environment. As learning is a social process, it is necessary that learning occur through interaction within social communities, or communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991).
Communities of practice facilitate learning through “developing identity as a member” and “taking part in the activities and practices of that community” (Kear, 2011, p. 46). The focus on collaboration within a learning community ensures that the focus is on contextualizing [shared] learning experiences. Building Online Communities “The truths of which the masses now approve are the very truths that the fighters at the outposts held to in the days of our grandfathers. We fighters at the outposts nowadays no longer approve of them; and I do not believe there is any other well-ascertained truth except this, that no community can live a healthy life if it is nourished only on such old marrowless truths.”
—Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (1882/2000, IV.i) In seminar five, Justin and Andrew addressed the use of social networking as a way of building community. They set up a closed Facebook group, in which they shared media from YouTube and other websites and invited members of the group to post comments on the videos.
As students gravitate toward social network sites, and many already use sites like Facebook and the mircoblogging tool, Twitter, this form of online communication is becoming an authentic and powerful tool for creating and supporting strong educational communities. Many of my high school students have expressed the appeal of using social networking over email—apparently email is antiquated.
Kear (2011) states that social networking tools “have significant potential for learning communities” by developing learning networks which support student to seek help from their peers, by developing networks for learning, and for setting up academic and social meetings (Ch. 6, p. 68). Building Online Communities “Online learning communities certainly offer flexibility, and in this venue I find that I prefer to have time to think about my responses, rather than “off the cuff” or being put on the spot to respond.  I don’t believe an online community increases my sense of belonging in that we only show what we want to show of ourselves, and there are limited personal connections being made—we don’t go for coffee afterward or talk about our personal lives.  As well, an online environment is somewhat impersonal, as we miss the personal nuances including gestures, facial expressions and body language.   Finally, I believe that there is a greater chance for misunderstandings and miscommunication among students if they lack a social connection” ( M.Kennedy, 2013). Session 2~My response: My beliefs translate into how I behave as teacher, and serve as a foundation for my interactions with students. Primarily, I value the idea of creating a sense of community within learning environments; this translates to students feeling of belonging, of being valued, feeling safe, and being heard. Community Building My personal beliefs about teaching and learning help to guide and bring clarity to my instructional practice; they direct my decision-making, planning and curricular decisions, and determine how I teach and what I teach. Personal Philosophy “Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition”
—Freeman Thomas The photograph is taken from a spring festival which is observed in India. This image resonates as a visual representation of online communication from the idea of connectedness and sense of belonging that permeates members of a community. A community implies that members share a sense of “…purpose, values, beliefs, shared practice or ways of interacting” (Kear, p.10). At first, the image appears as a blur of colours and people, but if you stop and look closely, the individuals become visible and unique. It is not that one individual that stands out from the crowd, but that the power of the group come from each person feeling connected and a sense of belonging within the group; which is vital to successful [online] community experiences. Philosophical and Theoretical Approach to Online Education Over the course of the seminar facilitations, there were an abundance of ideas and learning opportunities presented. I was often in awe and envy of what my colleagues had created, but I also recognize that I would have attempted more creative activities given more “free-time.”  I would have played a more active role in the set-up and design of the course if my timing was better, but as I was in the midst of having a baby during the planning stage. Future Considerations… I envision a blended learning environment (online and face-to-face), with both asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences. The asynchronous nature of online learning provides students and teachers flexibility in learning, and allows students a degree of control over the direction their learning takes. Future Considerations… Good educational theory helps us to make solid judgments about education planning and practices and their potential effectiveness. The planning of this seminar was firmly cemented in education theory, whereby the social constructivist nature of the course allowed for the learners to take an active role in knowledge construction; taking in to account their personal connections and understanding of the topic and allowing them to express themselves and learn from others within a social context.
In an online environment we are challenged to critically evaluate just how much of the educational process can be composed of interaction, and to consider how much interaction should take place synchronously or asynchronously. In our seminar, we made the conscious decision to present the learning materials asynchronously, allowing students to progress at their own pace and comfort level. Illustrating Bruner’s (1962) social constructivist theory, in that the learner must take an active role in constructing knowledge through contextual and collaborative or social learning activities, and knowledge comprehension is only realized through “the learners’ own personal understanding” (Kear, 2011, p. 29). Theory and Practice I believe that the small group size was beneficial for engagement and provided the added motivation to take an active part in the discussion postings. I’ve noticed that my own comfort level about communicating online has significantly increased with this activity, perhaps due to the smaller group or related to the conversational tone of the discussions (less academic). As well, along with a smaller group size comes less anonymity, which aided in providing a sense of belonging to a community/group. For most learners it is important to feel a sense of connection to the group as Kear (2011) notes, it “affects their learning and motivation” (Ch. 6, p.4).

Social constructivist view that the process of collaboration facilitates learners’ building understanding that wouldn’t be possible in a solitary environment. As learning is a social process, it is necessary that learning occur through interaction within social communities (Lave and Wenger, 1991). These communities aid in learning through “developing identity as a member” and “taking part in the activities and practices of that community” (Kear, 2011, p. 46). The concentration on collaboration and shared interaction within a learning community ensures that the focus is on contextualizing knowledge and learning experiences. Theory and Practice The discussion forum in D2L was dynamic and well-attended by all members. There seemed to be genuine collegial interaction, dialogue and learning going on; members supported ideas of others, expressed ideas, asked questions, and made their own meaning from the research. As moderators we helped to field questions, provided input, asked questions, and also shared ideas with group. We attempted to moderate in a timely manner, but this wasn’t always possible. In the end, we were successful in our goal to engage in conversations, build rapport, and to respond to all discussion postings and Weebly blog postings. Discussion Form Analysis Discussion
An asynchronous discussion was created in D2L and was attended over the week by members of our learning community. Our intention was to create an environment to share, ask questions and invite others to respond to the topic(s). As seminar leaders and moderators of the conversations, we were aiming for engaging discourse and new/interesting ideas among its members in order to build our communities of practice.
 
Weebly Blog and Twitter
Members were asked to contribute a blog posting to their personal Weebly site, which compared or summarized two of the readings from the list provided Online Learning Opportunities Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller This experience reinforced the importance of beginning a course with community building activities in order to facilitate a social presence among members. If I were to do this again, I would begin with a community building activity (icebreaker activity) in order to reduce the sense of anonymity that comes with online learning, and to set a positive tone in the online community. As well, I would integrate a synchronous learning activity, perhaps through Collaborate or through a live Twitter feed.
Social media offers a flexible and accessible option for learning as many students are able to access tools like Facebook or Twitter on their cell phones; it is a perfect venue for generating ongoing dialogue and directing students to media and relevant information.
The discussion board is an essential asynchronous tool for online education as it aids in critical thinking skills; it offers individuals a tool through which they can actively participate in shared discourse more regularly and in a more thoughtful manner than they would normally do in a face-to-face instructional setting,  and most importantly, it helps to develop a sense of community among its members.
I would also employ the use of a collaborative tool for learning (for example, Google Docs, Prezi…) as collaboration is beneficial for peer-to-peer interaction and feedback.
Finally, for the final summation of the learning, a survey tool is a great way to get informal feedback from the learners, and it would be a powerful tool in a classroom for identifying areas that students need more clarification. Future Considerations… With Dave Cromier’s (2008) theory of Rhizomatic Education, the teacher plays a minor role as the primary source of knowledge, rather the learners bring as much knowledge and information to the learning community, which in my experience with the seminar, made for a richer environment, ripe for learning.
The seminar provided many opportunities for rich learning and authentic discussions among peers. The online environment is an ideal venue for constructing knowledge, sharing and discussing ideas. Members of the online community were able to take the time to craft their thoughts in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, and were willing to engage when they were provided with activities in which related to their experience and interest. The discussion activity about “online tools” was the most prolific discussion strand, as most members had attempted to use both synchronous and asynchronous tools in their classroom, and they were eager to discuss what had worked. Learners kept up with the discussions and regularly contributed ideas to each other’s writing adding to a fertile and collegial learning community. Theory and Practice  
A week-long seminar facilitation that captured ideas from Chapter 3 of Karen Kear’s (2011), Online and Social Networking Communities: A Best Practice Guide for Educators. In Chapter 3, “Tools for Online Learning Communities,” the author discusses both asynchronous and synchronous tools for online learning, and focuses on ways in which these tools can be utilized for learning. Our seminar directed participants to demonstrate their understanding of these tools through research, reflection, sharing and discussion with other members of the online community. The activities were strictly asynchronous due to specific circumstances, and when mentioned to members of our online community, they seemed agreeable and open to an asynchronous medium as it provided them with some flexibility throughout the week. Pre-Facilitation Become familiar with common terms, definitions and elements related to online learning tools (asynchronous and synchronous)
Reflect on current research into the topic of online learning tools
Respond to and positively engage in online discussion group
Share and reflect on personal experiences with using online tools in the classroom (online or F2F)in discussion posts Learning Outcomes Learning Activities:
Blog Post
Write a blog post (add to Weebly site) comparing or summarizing at least two readings and tweet it (use #OLTD)
2. Discussion Responses in D2L:
Pose a question from one of the readings in the discussion group. Answer or comment on at least two other questions.
Choose two asynchronous tools and two synchronous tools. How would you use them in your classroom? How would it change or enhance what you already do? Online Learning Opportunities Experience of an Online Moderator
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