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Friday was our first meeting for this upcoming academic with the faculty co-chairs of our Ocotillo Action Groups. Part of this was planning, part of it catch up in the research they did over the summer, but the first bit was me trying to get them up to speed on the blog/wiki/discussion board tools we are using (blogged previously here as the "small pieces").
We have pairs of faculty leading activities, projects, research, in Learning Objects, Hybrid Course Structures, ePortfolios, end Emerging Learning Technologies.
I've had to remind myself numerous times that I am a full time technology person who has been immersed in blogs and such for 2 years, and these are new fish in the pond, and as busy faculty are going to not jump in head first like I do. I'd been sharing information, instructions, etc over the summer, but the traffic had been, ahem, light.
In fact, it was just last week that I was able to sit down with John, the faculty member who is the over all leader for the group, to give him a quick start. John was quickly sold, and he has his own area for blogging his "chair's eye view"-- but he saw the power rather quickly and several time in last week's meeting he let it be known he had high expectations for much activity on the group blogs.
We are working toward a late September event for our system- a virtual "kickoff". Rather than setting up a physical meeting where people could learn about the new groups, each group will be posting on their blog their goals and plans for the year. We will be doing some brief video interviews/greetings, which will be made available the week before the "kickoff"- the activities during the kickoff will be mostly in the discussion boards, where people can ask questions and more or less "shop" for the groups they might be interested in participating in this year.
We are trying to not just "talk" hybrid courses, but be more hybrid like in our activities.
The group were all positive abut the potential, especially for the "dashboard" view we have for being able to scan the activity from 4 blogs, 4 wikis, and 4 discussion boards on one screen. From the questions over the summer, they were all struggling with figuring out what should go in a blog versus a wiki versus a discussion board. I tried to explain that there are no rigid rules, and they are going to have to figure out what works by trial and some error.
What follows is from a document I whipped up the morning of the meeting...
Our use this year of new technology tools puts everyone on the learning curve. There are no hard and fast rules as the “best” way to use the ones we have put out there or when to use them—you will definitely develop a strategy as you use them and become more familiar.
Here are a few guidelines and suggestions, but again, you will find your own way:
Use the blog to announce events, the describe relevant interesting resources, to link to activities taking place in the other two tool areas, to put out ideas.
It need not be a long essay paper, just a paragraph or two is plenty. It should take no more time or technical expertise than writing an email.
It is hard to get people to return often to a discussion unless it is (a) a hot / controversial topic or (b) there is a compelling or drawing reason to show up.