How to use and build online communities by Janet Thomson


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Janet Thomson, CEO of SchoolNetSA gave this presentation at Education Week hosted at the Sadnton Centre on July 4 2012

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  • Wide range of interpretations and models of online communities – this presentation documents only our own experiences of using and building communities at SchoolNet SA – both currently - as well as the history of how that has developed over the past 12 years
  • 100 % distance – no contact - Original -The Educators’ Network conceptualized in 1999 - adapted as ACE for University of KwaZulu-Natal 2005 – revised for Commonwealth of Learning in 2009 - now currently revised and being used in the Caribbean 2012 – 2013 University of the Free State - post graduate level
  • NB: for developing countries without stable connectivity or high bandwidth – materials accessed on CD Emphasis is on classroom experience, reflection on that experience, (e-diary – in early days – wiki now) sharing thoughts with the group online, contemplating change in practice, implementing new solutions – sharing what worked and what did not – but collaborating throughout – collaborative discovery WITS Masters (Stuart Foulds) on the EDN model concluded that a strong community of practice using the conceptual framework of Wenger had been established and maintained among the mentors but the teachers were yet to develop sufficient online culture to sustain such a community of practice – some teachers felt they had more of a community of practice within their own schools. Despite this - it was a Very positive study overall. Make the distinction between an online community and a community of practice in the Wenger sense
  • And the content changed – still Rigorous – in fact – most aspects at post graduate level – NQF 7 Current concept in Caribbean is training HEI or Ministry personnel to become tutors – they study at least one module as a student as a first requirement
  • Tools needed for tutor to group – tutor to person – person to person - person to group Edubogs – safe easy set up Throughout its life this model used a range of online platforms and LMSystems – SchoolNet Communities – Partners in Learning Network - but the platform does not matter – it is the support of the tutor – good interaction can happen on any platform – [Moodle ]
  • Must be Encouraging – rather like Sugata Mitra’s Granny effect – community members learn to share and to comment sensitively on each other’s work Teachers need to see that others peoples’ attempts were not too different from their own – AYV – this was always possible – projects were visible and accessible Everyone needs to be able to see the tutor/ mentor comments – the ones that are helpful to everyone Tutors need to be consistently available, proactive, in touch, interactive, always answer questions, be full of enthusiasm and true concern – in short they must CARE Perhaps this does not happen well in HEI distance courses – mobile phones should help solve this one
  • Mention the national schools librarians mailing list – INFOLINK - been very active of late – due to special circumstances – extremely supportive of each other AYV – support experience of Deb with teacher from Brazil – exchanged world cup stories and CDs national anthems and Freshly Ground COL - Cyclone in Caribbean – emotional support – Skype use by one tutor had to be deliberately curtailed after the course had finished SchoolNet members community – dealt with in more detail on next slide In all cases Members feel they are part of a large supportive community even if lurkers do not contribute – still a sense of belonging Still my best experience is when people meet face to face for the first time already having become great friends – happening at the moment at Teach Meets – and it often used to happen at conferences – old friends meet for the first time
  • As well as Fbook and Twitter – Diego – SchoolNet saves teachers hours of trawling by providing great resources every day and curating them in one place – followers become the community – they discuss and share further - why not all join We employ a full time online facilitator – and for Intel Engage we paid teachers to participate and sustain interactions on specific themes Department of Basic Education and The Department of Higher Education and Training: Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa , April 2011 – page 3 IMPORTANCE OF Professional Learning Communities - SchoolNet’s PM provides that – as well as Webinars – social networks all focussed on ICT integration skills and techniques. This is the one programme that can grow teachers into a focused academy mode Facebook slide share YouTube etc. is SchoolNet SA - Twitter = @schoolnetsa - Blog -
  • Jane Hart’s Top 20 tools for learning in 2011 - grey numbers denote rankings in previous years – and letters denote – free – download – Paid for or Online Jane presented at SchoolNet 2011 conference at St Johns in JHBurg. (Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies) C4LPT – in fact one of her keynotes was on building online communities
  • SchoolNet membership programme makes full use of social media to support virtual interest groups SchoolNet members encouraged to participate Monday night twitter discussion on the #edchatsa hashtag from 8:30-9:30 pm which discusses a particular topic of interest. Participants vote on the topic by visiting Wikis do not really have a good commenting feature so link to a blog Advantages of each of the tools and what they can bring to a sense of community – e.g. Diigo promotes community because people join the Diigo site and get the updates sent to their email addresses – can see that SchoolNet is providing them with a service – share and discuss further The place for emails remains – reminders for each of the events mentioned – weekly updates to all – and answering queries to all
  • Potential Online Tutors – preparing for participation in online tutor training in Trinidad – having completed their own modules as student teachers first
  • How to use and build online communities by Janet Thomson

    1. 1. How to use and build online communities Janet Thomson, Executive Director, SchoolNet SA2 - 4 July 2012 1
    2. 2. 2 – 4 July 2012 2
    3. 3. Evolution of an online model For teaching qualifications in ICT integration2 – 4 July 2012 3
    4. 4. Same model – the tools changed Communities of practice 42 – 4 July 2012
    5. 5. 2 – 4 July 2012 5
    6. 6. Tools for collaboration Platform agnostic6 - 8 July 2011 6
    7. 7. HEIs and CCTI qualificationBahamas – Trinidad and Tobago – Grenada -St Vincent and the Grenadines – Antigua andBarbudaHosting CCTI in Moodle:•University of the West Indies•Antigua Teacher Education Faculty•University of the Free State - NQF 7/8/92 – 4 July 2012 7
    8. 8. Training of tutors• Tutors must encourage – and reply to all - be consistently available, proactive, in touch, interactive, always answer questions, be full of enthusiasm and most of all - they must CARE• Tutor feedback to be visible to all – helps all• Train tutors in the model they are going to useFacilitating online: A course leader’s guide, Tony Carr, Shaheeda Jaffer and Jeanne Smuts, 2009, Published by the Centre for Educational Technology, UCT
    9. 9. Experiences – building trust Warts an’ all `Brazil – World Cup – national anthems Cyclone emotional support Skype Virtual – and face to face 9
    10. 10. SchoolNet Premium Membership Programme6 - 8 July 2011 10
    11. 11. 2 – 4 July 2012 11
    12. 12. Tools to support community Can be used for staff development – chat roll - notWebinars necessarily synchronous - can access later Great for sharing online projects – for teachers and Wikis learners – combine with blogs - share feedback Teach Been held in Cape Town, Durban and Joburg - so far – exciting to meet face to face for the first time MeetsSchoolNet Curates resources in 1place: 100 views/day Blog 2 – 4 July 2012 12
    13. 13. Sustaining the community• Communities are not managed they are nurtured• The tutor/ facilitator should shape and fade• Tutors must CARE – give a personal welcome• Respect views of participants• Demonstrate good practice – ask questions• Trust and sense of belonging 2 – 4 July 2012 13
    14. 14. Thank you – 4 July 2012 14