Sunday, December 6, 2009

Summary of the Whole Course

End of the Semester !!!
The course overall was great learning experience for me and I have touched a lot of new online communities and discovered a lot about the virtual world out there that can be utilised in elearning. Below is a summary and highlights of the semester’s blogging.

Definition by Wiki - Online community is a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as newsletters, telephone, email, internet social network service or instant messages rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes. An online community is simply a meeting place on the Internet for people who share common interests and needs.

Looking into facilitating, moderating and teaching, I have always thought I could manage all those roles, thinking that it is very similar to teaching, but while doing this course I have discovered the roles each of them play in Elearning and how important the individual roles are. The practical experience I went through during my mini conference has made me realize the importance of each role.

Discussions forums is a really a good way of allowing online learners to interact with each other either synchronously or asynchronously. Discussion forums would definitely benefit from having facilitators and moderators ending up with an efficient discussion forum. My Presenter for the mini conference, Cherie Wright had given a very good presentation regarding online forums, click here to view the recording.

Blog Networks come in a range of shapes and sizes and have been designed with different purposes in mind – but in a sense if you strip them all back they are simply clusters of blogs that are in some way linked together under a common name or banner. Meena had created a very good event on her blog for Blogging and it looks at blogging from different perspectives and the pros and cons of blogging. I like blogs as part of a reflection tool in learning.

I have used the course wiki to some extend, but I found the environment not that user friendly with the wiki mark-up, but managed to do what I wanted. It was good to get wiki involved as part of the course encouraging us to use it. It was amazing to look into second life and the virtual world it has generated.

There are different types of Social Networking Platforms and it was interesting to explore these networks. Ning was a new platform that I discovered during the course and it was pretty busy environment for me with too many options available. While exploring these networks, it is very important to also be aware of social networking safety tips.

The main event for the course was the mini conference and a lot of planning was involved in organising this event. The overall experience and reflection of the mini event made me realise the role of an online facilitator and mainly discovering what is available out there for us to use in elearning. The Evaluation of the mini events has got the highlights of what went well and what can be done better next time.

During this course I have certainly learnt a lot of new things, best of all is how to facilitate an online community and what tools to use to do so. It was indeed a very challenging course with full on activities and assignments to complete. I tried my best to keep up with the course schedule, but my time management was also quite a hectic one, I think I should be spent a bit more time exploring things a bit more in depth rather than just discovering them. The course Facilitator Sarah did an excellent job facilitating and motivating us through the semester. I will certainly use a lot of skills I have learnt during this course and will definitely be looking into dimdim for future conference. I would recommend my colleagues to do this course, as they were also impressed to see what I was up to during the semester.

Overall I think it was a very busy course with heaps happening and I really enjoyed learning more in depth about online facilitation.

Thank you to all the participants and the facilitator Sarah.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Assignment 3 – Evaluation of my mini conference event

Assignment 3 – Evaluation of my mini conference event

The Event was organized through the course
wiki and a discussion regarding it was established in the wiki. After reviewing and discussions regarding the mini event the final information was posted on the course mini conference to advertise it to all and set a date and time for participants to be aware of it. I had posted a voting poll before finalizing on the date and time in my Blog. After looking at the voting poll, I finalized the date and time for my event. Also I emailed the FOC Google group email with the conference details and links to the wiki and my blog – to encourage participants to post questions and discussion about the topic prior to the event.

I had chosen to use Elluminate for my mini event – and my guest speaker Cherie Wright was new to Elluminate, so I had created a screen shot for Elluminate and put up some notes for my quest speaker and did a trial version with her prior to the meeting. It all went really well and Cherie was really pleased to experiment Elluminate as well. The FOC participants had used Elluminate before so that was a bonus because I really did not need to explain it to them. My back up was Skype. I sent another reminder email a day before to all FOC members including guest speakers and other interested people.

The Event Itself
The event did not go as planned, 5 minutes before the meeting Elluminate site was down. I kept trying and trying, but no luck. After contacting Sarah and she confirmed me that Elluminate is down, that’s when I started panicking and looking at my back up plan. Sent an email to the FOC group and my Guest speaker to meet up in Skype, while I was trying to set up Dimdim, I had not used dimdim before, but since Elluminate was down and Skype was not that appropriate for such an event. I decided to create a meeting room in dimdim and sent the meeting room name and link to the FOC email group and requested the participants to come to dimdim. It was a bit of delay in dimdim to get familiar with the tools available. I was able to share my PowerPoint while my guest speaker got started with the presentation to keep up with the time lost due to technical problems.

The voice was clear and the PowerPoint presentation was easily loaded and the mini conference started going smoothly. I had planned so well to do the introduction part with a nice photo of my guest speaker and some details about her – as planned in Elluminate, but since we ended up using dimdim, and we were short for time, I had to skip through and concentrate on the tools of dimdim for the rest of the event. Had to keep checking my emails to see if anyone still was trying to find where the meeting was, but most of them ended up in Dimdim very efficiently, which was great.

Half way through I discovered that Elluminate was up and running, and I thought there is no way I will ask the participants to go to Elluminate, since everything was going smoothly in dimdim, I left it to be concluded via dimdim.

After the presentation, the participant asked questions via the chat room and the guest speaker answered their questions. Mic restriction only allowed 3 people to handle the mic. I at the ended just concluded by thanking everyone and appreciating everyone’s patience due to the technical hiccups I had during my mini event.

As per the participants including Sarah – said that I was patient and well done, so at least that’s good that on the other end people did not get to see what actually I was going through, I certainly remained calmed and patient while chatting to the group, but at the same time all sorts of questions were arising in my mind as to what I could have done better, what went did I do wrong… etc. Straight after the event – I decided to summarize my whole event and I posted my reflection on the Meeting Experience on my blog together with the links of the recording. It was interesting to see the comments from the participants including comments from Kevin – Community Manager from Dimdim had visited my blog as well.

I posted a The recording of the meeting in the course wiki as well as emailed to the FOC group email and provided links to my blog for them to comment on my event.

For me this was a great learning experience where I learnt not only how to facilitate an online event, but as well as differentiating the different roles as a teacher, Facilitator and moderator. I was initially planning to be both the facilitator as well as the speaker for my event, when Sarah advised me not to do so and arrange for someone else to be the speaker and for me to concentrate on being a facilitator for the event – I really enjoyed my job as a facilitator that night, and definitely I learnt to have a better Back up plan, rather than just putting Skype as backup plan and thought all should go well, when in reality anything can happen. I was extremely pleased with the service dimdim provided for free.

Overall the Mini conference was just the icing in the cake for this whole course for me, since it seemed to summarise all the learning into one events preparation and experience we went through for the online event. I have learnt a lot regarding facilitating an online community – in terms of what options are available, and how to be prepared for such an event in future. I would like to give applause and praise to all the wonderful
participant for FOC 09 group. You guys were awesome and very supportive during the whole semester, we all had our ups and downs, but the participants were always supportive and encouraging. Thanks Guys.

Kind Regards
Krishan Mani

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Virtual World - Second Life

Virtual World – Second Life

Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual community created entirely by its membership. Members assume an identity and take up residence in Second Life, creating a customized avatar or personage to represent themselves. The avatar moves about in the virtual world using mouse control and intuitive keyboard buttons.

Second Life’s virtual world also includes sound; wind in the swaying trees, babbling brooks, audible conversation, and built-in chat and instant messaging. Residents buy property, start businesses, game with other residents, create objects, join clubs, attend classes, or just hang out. The rendering of Second Life is remarkable, making it an instant guilty pleasure. Further Reading.

I have just created my account, my user name is Krish Bluebird and I m looking into exploring it more in detail. Sarah shared her experience using Second Life – for virtual birthing unit. I think it’s quite amazing the kind of things you can do with these virtual platform. Looking forward in experimenting with it further.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blog Networks – Blogospheres

Blog Networks come in a range of shapes and sizes and have been designed with different purposes in mind – but in a sense if you strip them all back they are simply clusters of blogs that are in some way linked together under a common name or banner.

Most of these networks are have some commercial aspect to them while others are more about about promoting blogs and social networking. Further Reading

Blogospheres is the world or blogging and bloggers. As defined in the wiki - Blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs and their interconnections. It is the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community.

Blogging Network is simply where a group of blogging people share and interconnect their blogs with each other forming a blogging community. I think a lot of blogging networks need facilitation service in order to maintain and regulate and keep up with the blogging.

It was interesting to find out that you can get a job as a blogger for a blog network and it can be a great way to enter the world of professional blogging.
One of the most widely used Blog Network is and it has over 30 million page views per month, so you can just imagine how popular this network is.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Social Networking - Ning

Hi Guys,

Just decide to signup for Ning, and explore it a bit, it seems like quite similar to FB I gues, but have not really gave it a go. Debra is doing her mini- conference event via Ning to have asynchronous discussion before the meeting.

In Ning you are able to create your own social network and start a discussion on that. Have your blogs and events similar to other platforms. You can join the Forum that debra has created for her assignment two for the mini conference and add you comments on that.

Looking forward in exploring NING.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Meeting Summary - What an experience !!!

Hi Guys,
My meeting was planned to happen on Elluminate and guess what...
Elluminate was down during the meeting start time.

I than decided to use skype and dimdim as an alternative option.
Its bit hard to chat together using Skype, so dimdim seems to be a better option.
I had emailed the dimdim room ID as we started, sorry for those who missed out that email, and went to elluminate.
Most of the class participants were there in dimdim - more than 10 people were present in DIMDIM.
Special thanks to Cherie my presenter for the night, she did an awesome job tonight... thanks Cherie.

I was able to see the powerpoint and listen to cherie crystal clear.
but i assume some of you were not able to hear her and could not see the presentation.
(so I emailed the powerpoint to all who could not see the presentation.) (Sorry to those who had auidio problem)

Thanks Sara for reminding me to press the record button (missed at least 10 minutes of it) :(

To be honest i was too confident with elluminate that i did not spend much time with other alternatives
but ended up using dimdim...(Thanks to dimdim).

My advice to all - always be prepared with these technologies.

Thanks you Sarah for your support - I was panicing big time...
Thanks to all the participants for being with me from elluminate to dimdim to skype back to dimdim....

I guess we all had good experience.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mini Conference Update

Hello Everyone,

Here are the details about my mini conference.
Thank you for all those who voted in the poll.
According to the poll, Majority seems to be in favour of the session to be on Monday 16th November @ 7.30pm. So I have just finalised my time and date.
Title: Elearning Interaction Through Online Discussion Forum
Date: 7.30 pm, Monday 16th November, (UTC/GMT + 13hrs)
Facilitator:Krishan Mani (
Presenter:Meena Adhikari (MIT) and Guest Speaker: Cherie Wright, Programme Leader National Certificate in Computing, Manukau Institute of Technology.
Venue:Elluminate: meeting room here
Description:For my Mini Conference I would like to discuss the Importance of Online interactionusing online discussions forums. How effective is asynchronous communication. Discuss some pros and cons of Online Discussions Forums. Share examples of online discussion and how users befit from it.
Back Up Plan: Skype : krishanmani83
Feel free to leave your comments regarding the topic. :)

Please do visit my blog and add your comments any specific question you want to discuss at the mini conference.
Try our the meeting room : Elluminate - and see if it runs in your PC prior to the meeting, if any technical problems please flick an email to me.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mini Conference - Online Discussion Forums

Interaction has always been a major issue while dealing with elearning. How can learners interact with peers and facilitators, share ideas and thoughts and get feedback from the rest of the participants.

The best way is by having online discussion forums available for any online course, whether it needs a lot of discussion or not, it is always good to have peers interacting with each other regarding the course.

For my Mini Conference I would like to discuss the following issues:
· Importance of Online interaction
· Online Discussions Forums
o Asynchronous communication – text based
· Pros and cons of Online Discussions Forums
· Examples of online Discussion

There are different online applications that you can use for Online Discussions Forums, in this mini conference will discuss the benefits of using online discussion forums rather than analysing any specific discussion forum.

Date and Time: Friday 13th at (4pm or 7:30pm) or Monday 16th at 7:30pm
There is a poll on the left side – please vote to let me know what times are more suitable to everyone.

Please add your comments and ideas :)

Kind Regards

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mini Conference Ideas

I am thinking of running the mini conference about Online Discussion Forums. I have used a lot of different online application as a student and as well as a staff. I have discovered that there is a very less usage of discusion boards /Forums.

I have used Blackboard discussion Board- and i think it is a very useful tool in elearning. I would like to see why people arent using the discussion Board - or discussion forums.
I am not sure what should I call my conference - Discussion Board is specific to black board. but is simliar to any online forum or blog - where people are able to discuss ideas , projects etc and get feedback from others.

Should I generalise it to any online discussion forum, or make it a specific application like Blackboard - Discussion bord and stick to it. Just trying not to make the topic too broad.
These are my ideas... Please feel free to give me some comments.

Krishan Mani

Monday, November 2, 2009

Social Networking Safety Tips

Here are some tips that can be taken into considerations while working with online networking.

Protect your privacy
You can avoid these risks and enjoy social networking sites by following a few sensible guidelines:
· Don’t let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites push you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. Just because other people post their mobile phone number or birthday, doesn’t mean you have to.
· Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself. In particular things like: phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address, birthday or full name.
· Pick a user name that doesn’t include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices.
· Set up a separate email account that doesn’t use your real name and use that to register and receive mail from the site. That way if you want to shut down your connection, you can simply stop using that mail account. This is very simple and quick to do using such providers as Hotmail or Yahoo.

· Use a strong password.
· What goes online stays online. Don’t say anything or publish pictures that might cause you embarrassment later. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t say it to your boss or your grandmother, don’t say it online.
· Learn how to use the site. Use the privacy features on the site you use to restrict strangers’ access to your profile. Be guarded about who you let join your network.
· Be on your guard against phishing scams.

Further Reading
Another Impotant thing is not to give out a lot of details of hwre you work and what you do - work history online.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Social Networking

Hi guys,

There are different platforms of social networking through online communities. And for this course we are trying to try out a few of these platforms. I myself, have created so many different accounts, sometimes it really hard to keep up with all these profiles.

Also I would be concerned about giving out a lot of personal details online. It takes me big courage to publish photo’s in these profiles as well. As Herve had stated in his blog – about ID theft through public profile.

It is very important to be aware of such activities that happen through online social networking. I personally use a few – but keep limited information and photos. Social net working would seem not that safe due to some of these hackers.

It comes to each individual taking risk on putting their personal information online, and who has access to it.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Discussion Forum Update


I had registered to join the Khurram’s online forum and have a look at the discussion happening.

This forum already has administrators, moderators or webmaster that look after the forum under certain rules and regulation. This forum is based on the free speech concept, giving everyone the freedom to express their views and opinions on any subject matter of life.
There are certain terms and conditions that you accept before registering…

I have sent emails to see what their comments!!!
This seems to take a bit of time, so I while waiting I will carry on with other tasks assigned for this course. Will update once i get some more infor.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hello all,

Sorry for not being active for 2 weeks or so, I was out of the country for a wedding and I have just recently shifted into a new property, so still settling in… so being really busy.

Now this week’s discussion is about Discussion Forums being used as online communication. Text based Communication seems to be most appropriate, when it comes to Elearning. A very good example is this course itself, Facilitating Online Communities 2009 group, we all participants are from different places, and we all have work and other personal life, it is hard for everyone to be able to meet together in the scheduled meetings to communicate together, but through online text based discussion and blogs, we all try to be in the same loop. So it’s not always possible to communicate in a synchronised session, but by having discussion forums, it allows participants to contribute their ideas in an asynchronous text based communication. An interesting reading on text-based communication in e-learning.

Having a facilitator in a discussion forum would be very beneficial, as it would allow the discussion to work properly and conclude in an appropriate manner.

I have not yet chosen a discussion forum yet to discuss, but will post more comments once I have chosen an online forum.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Teacher, Facilitator, Moderator

A Teachers Role:
At all levels teachers play a very active role throughout the learning in of the students.

Helping learners to authenticate learning – making links to curriculum learning, interests, existing knowledge; to harness curiosity, love of learning. There is a good article about the Teachers Role and one thing I picked up was “If the teacher feels joy of feels anger, it will be spread among children because the attitudes of the teacher gets contagious. If the teacher laughs, students also laugh, why? Because teachers are responsible for the social behavior in the classroom.” It’s so interesting to know that the teachers mood affects the learners as well. Which might not be the case with online teaching environment!

A facilitator is an individual who's job is to help to manage a process of information exchange. While an expert's" role is to offer advice, particularly about the content of a discussion, the facilitator's role is to help with HOW the discussion is proceeding. Interesting reading on the
Role of a Facilitator. The definition of facilitate is "to make easy" or "ease a process". What a facilitator does is plan, guide and manage a group event to ensure that the group's objectives are met effectively, with clear thinking, good participation and full buy-in from everyone who is involved.

The Moderator should:
· Introduce the topic of the session and the participants
· Manage the general discussion, make comments on the content of the presentation, identifying strengths and weaknesses, highlighting issues not fully addressed by the participants, asking questions to clarify the content, etc.
· Ensure good timekeeping so that there are no delays or over-runs;
· Summarise the main conclusions at the end of the session.

Moderators are generally accorded additional powers to enforce forum rules and conduct administrative tasks that cannot be trusted to ordinary users.

A teacher
is a person who imparts knowledge or skill through instruction or example while a learning facilitator is one who creates an environment in which someone can come to know something, acquire knowledge, or to gain information.

Reference Reading


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is an online community?

Hi Guys,

The Video Presentation by Michael Wesch seemed very interesting. I personally use youtube to watch family videos or entertainment, but had never realised the way we are communicating all around the world. As stated by Adrienne, he thinks that humans will always need to connect and communicate, but the tools/media that we use change the way the communication is delivered. I think it’s very true that we as humans will always need to connect and will use what ever tools or technology is available to us to communicate.

As said in the presentation that Media is not content, media are not just tools of communication, media mediate human relations. When media changes, than human relations change. Media do not just distance us, they connect us in different ways, that can sometimes feel distant, but sometimes that distance allows us to connect more deeply than ever before. My sister had performed a dance in Ausi and I was so desperate to see her dance, and was so glad to see it in you tube the next day. I personally think it is a really good way of sharing, trading and collaborating with the rest of the world.

It shows that most common videos in youtube are home Videos and the age group commonly using youtube is around the age of 18 to 25 years of age. His presentation also highlights the group of people who tends to put false information, which affects people feeling and thoughts, I think people should think twice before putting false or made up stories online. Users need to be more honest with their posts.

Overall I think presentation made me realise how widely youtube is being used worldwide.

The second resource I went through was the “Building Online Communities” and this was an interesting reading about; the Internet exists to improve communication and communities can grow anywhere communication occurs. In today’s world, a lot of people think that internet technology is for the digital natives, but I think anyone can be part of these online communities and share ideas and link with the rest of the world. I agree with the comment made “Without an underlying goal, it's extremely difficult to guide users in constructive ways”, in any sort of online community there should be some reasons for it to exist. And these reasons should be the factors drawing the users towards the online community. The community itself is not the only draw, in most cases, but it is a primary attractor. People like to fit in into an online community, and it takes making several new relationships to produce this impression.

As an online designer, not everything will work out as predicted or planned. A lot of times users would surprise you, they’ll latch onto and chase down ideas you've never found important or even knew existed. I think this is very true, because it’s hard to know who the audience are when designing an online community. If you see positive comments on the site, than you will know that the site is liked by many and it is a good site.

It is important to have the initial contribution for the online community easier that would encourage more contributors. The interface being used has to be user friendly and simple to use to make it easier for the users. It is also important to set some simple rules to maintain a good site.

Overall from this reading you can gather a lot of useful information about how to build a successful online community.

Some forms of evidence that I would look for when determining an online community are:
- Ways of online Interaction
- How people participate - Members
- Content – The better the content, the more members you will have
- Transactions - easier it is to do the transaction, the more involved members will become.

Looking forward to reading others ideas and perpectives :)


Monday, August 3, 2009

Week 2

Hello Guys,

I am in the teaching environment for 5 years now, and in the last two years i took up a position as a facilitator, facilitaing face to face courses. These courses are online based and are available for distance learning as well. These teaching experience made me feel like exploring a bit more on online facilitation and how to use tools and skills to manage online facilitation.

I am looking forward for learning new skills that i can use to develop some of my own online teaching environments. May be in future take up other elearning courses as well to be up to date with the technologies and other elearning tools.

Looking forward to working with all of you :)


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leigh Blackall: Facilitating Online Communities course starts 27 July

Leigh Blackall: Facilitating Online Communities course starts 27 July

Facilitation Online

Greetings to all,

It was good to see some familiar names - in the participants list, whom I know through other courses I have done earlier this semester. Hello to all. I am looking forward for this Facilitating Online Communities course. I am doing another paper as well along with this one, so looking at another busy semester ahead.

Wish you all good luck for this semester.