Learning the Art of Online Facilitation: March 1-21, 2007

What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Nancy White -
Number of replies: 29
Sylvia, Nick and I have been tossing around a conversation thread and want to invite you in. Below is the background. We propose a synchronous voice interaction on Thursday,. 15 March at 7am PDT. (Time and date conversion here. ) We'll use a phone conferencing set up that allows you to call in or skype in. The sound quality is not perfect, but we'll make do!) I'll post the phone in information here and then remind as we get closer:

Skype:
You dial as if this is SkypeOut, but you will not be charged.
+9900827568794

Telephone:
Calling from the US call # 1-605-475-8500 (long distance costs apply).
In Europe, call:
    Belgium        070 35 9987
    France         0826 100 275
    Germany      01805 00 7646
    Ireland          0818 270 032
    Italy              0848 390 172
    Switzerland   0848 560 152
    UK                0870 738 0760
The conference is free but national rate charges will apply to these calls.
Our Conference Room Number (passcode for the telephone dial in) is : 5968794

In the meantime, we can start asynchronously here.

I have been facilitating an online workshop (I know, I need to update that page. I will do that this week!) on online facilitation since 1999, when I first joined forces with Michele Paradis (some of you may have known her as Mihaela Moussou) to lead a little workshop for a project called the Knowledge Ecology University. Little did I know I'd still be at it 8 years later.

The design evolved quite a bit until it "settled in" around 2002. It was three weeks spread over 5 with a week "off" every other week. It was a combination of starter materials which we then made sense and practiced with in conversations in a web based forum, augmented with weekly telephone calls and chats. One significant addition 18 months ago was the use of mentors from previous workshops, something I borrowed from the CPSquare Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop. I have to say, we've been borrowing from each other since the start, as both workshops were launched at the same time.

There were 3 main areas that people were interested in back then: big commercial sites (most of those died during the dot bomb), virtual teams and elearning.

Then there was a shift in the web where we no longer were just talking about groups, but networks. The types of tools commonly used expanded like crazy and I noticed that facilitating on wikis was different than on forums. Facilitating in networks was different than with groups. Online interaction also  became more pervasive and diverse.

So for the last 18 months I've been thinking that I really need to redesign the workshop. I've blogged about it a bit, but now that I've committed to a May 12th start, I have to get serious about finalizing this new design.  I've started and I invite you to join Sylvia, Nick and I to talk about the design. What do people want to learn these days? Where should our attention be placed with respect to facilitating online interactions?
In reply to Nancy White

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Sylvia Currie -
I'm looking forward to our phone conversation tomorrow! Thursday, 15 March at 7am PDT. (Time and date conversion here.) I have fond memories of one conference call during your workshop where we each drew a circle and using a clock metaphor (Bill is at 2 o'clock) we placed names on the circle as did introductions. Being a doodler by nature, by the end of that conversation I had given my people hair, glasses, and a couple folks even got neck ties! Nancy was holding a telephone twice the size of her head :-D

I've also set up a text chat area here in SCoPE so we can have another way to communicate. It will come in handy if things don't all go as planned with the telephone conferencing service! Here's a direct link to the chat room.

Or, to navigate to the chat room go to Scheduled Seminar Discussions and you'll see a link "SCoPE Text Chat" right under the link to this forum discussion.



In reply to Nancy White

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Derek Chirnside -
Hmm.

This will be 3am for me.  :-)  I'll be there . . .
Do I stay up or rely on the alarm?

And this little line in Nancy's post slipped by in my skimming.
"From What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop by choconancy on Monday, 12 March 2007 2:46:00 p.m.:
In the meantime, we can start asynchronously here. "

I will try to post something late, but really I've been in lurker mode.

-Derek
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Nick Noakes -
Derek

Thanks for coming out of lurker mode and hope you will make it. And apologies to all for my absence as I am dealing with some PC woes at home so my access is not great right now but I will be there - fingers crossed.

Can others planning to attend chat/skype, please just drop in here with a quick note. :-)
In reply to Nick Noakes

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Barbara Dieu -
I would love to participate but unfortunately I will be at school at this time  and will not have access to Skype or anything else that interacts.  dead

I hope all is recorded so I can go over it and reflect on the ideas put forward.
In reply to Nick Noakes

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by E.A. Draffan -
I am really going to try to attend.  Perhaps you could you send us a warning - pity there is no auditory alarm method! wink  Will watch for e-mails!
In reply to Nancy White

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Bronwyn Stuckey -
I would like to join in - the issues you're likely to discuss are relevant to the Foundations workshop and the other events that I work with and maybe I can contribute some too (having taken your workshop). So if I can stay awake I will be there!
In reply to Nancy White

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Derek Chirnside -
From What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop by choconancy on Monday, 12 March 2007 2:46:00 p.m.:
What do people want to learn these days? Where should our attention be placed with respect to facilitating online interactions?


I think this is why I'll try to join the chat.  How to answer this question?  My thinking is a little scattered at the moment.  Lots of fragments.

It's like the guy who tries to shave, lathering up, running the blade over and ends up with the blood washing the soap off.  He did all the things he could see - on the surface.  But what he didn't know is that you are supposed to pucker up to tense the skin a little underneath the soap.  There is something vital going on that he didn't see.  This is sometimes how I feel.  Or to change the metaphor, you cannot see some things that are going on, but yo can see some hints, like triangulation to get a fix.

The social structures are changing.  here is one new one:
Coagulations.  A biological/chemical term.  There is a big group, but a few people just attract and stick together.  I've see this happen just in the last month.  60 people, in several different business units, with several projects on the go, several working groups, lots know each other, some new people - suddenly a few people (like 6) meeting for lunch.
The common feature?  Some factor in their career background which I won't name here.  I could not believe the progress we have made, all under the radar, on official various projects and birthed a few others.
Two people caused this to happen, but it is likely none of the projects could have functioned without all of us being there.
I first thought of the connectors in Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point", then realised all the roles were there:

From wikipedia: Gladwell identifies three types of people who have the power to produce social epidemics:

  • Mavens are knowledgeable people. While most consumers wouldn't know if a product were priced above the market rate by, say, 10 percent, mavens would. Bloggers who detect false claims in the media could also be considered mavens.
  • Salesmen are charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They exert "soft" influence rather than forceful power. Their source of influence may be the tendency of others, subconsciously, to imitate them rather than techniques of conscious persuasion.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point_(book)

I've thought of this as a grid for analysis, not just for social epidemics.
I'd surmise there is a notion of completeness for "participatory facilitation" to happen.  Certain functions need to be there in a pool of people in a group/network/team.  Provided by facilitation, or emergent from within.  Could a facilitator pick up strongly in one area and see the other areas emerge.

Why I think this is true is from sort of reverse engineering.  "Ok it worked then.  Now it doesn't.  What has changed?  <thinks> OK, things were fine when Joe left.  But when Sally left . .  turned to Custard. <thinks> What did Sally take with her?  What did she provide when she was here?" 

Social structures are changing . .    so are the places where people leave their mark.  To keep in touch with things nowadays, you need to be able to keep up with a range of places.

I've tried to banish the word 'manage'.  Do we 'manage time' ? No we live in it.  Do we 'manage people'?
OK.  Got to go.  This is not finished, and the bit in the middle is not clear . .  I may or may not get back to this tonight.


In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Jill Smith -
I am sorry for the late reply.  I would like to join the chat.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Nancy White -
I belatedly just saw this post. I love the coagulations. I'll be back!

I think in facilitation management is an illusion. We push on boundaries and see what happens!
In reply to Derek Chirnside

I'm not back yet

by Derek Chirnside -
I'm signing out for the weekend.  Just got some things to push through that need some attention, and I want to got for a hike.  Pick up later.

Enjoyed the chat/TC chaotic as it was.  Thanks everybody.  The real work is actually to cme to process the stuff.   'Met' some new people.  But how come you guys are so casual about your bios and pics here?  OK, I know mine is out of date too, I'll fix that.  Maybe this is a sign of the distributed world we live in no doubt.  Our bios could be a single link to our web page/blog/bebo.com space.

This is a great discussion Nick.  Someone mentioned the challenge of gathering the ideas in a distributed space.  Lots of ideas here. 

In reply to Nancy White

Wake up everyone! Our synchronous voice interaction with Nancy will begin soon!

by Sylvia Currie -
Voice

Skype:

You dial as if this is SkypeOut, but you will not be charged.
+9900827568794

Telephone:
Calling from the US call # 1-605-475-8500 (long distance costs apply).
In Europe, call:
    Belgium        070 35 9987
    France         0826 100 275
    Germany      01805 00 7646
    Ireland          0818 270 032
    Italy              0848 390 172
    Switzerland   0848 560 152
    UK                0870 738 0760
The conference is free but national rate charges will apply to these calls.
Our Conference Room Number (passcode for the telephone dial in) is : 5968794

Text Chat
http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/chat/view.php?id=499
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Late responder

by Bruce Smith -
Hope that gate-crashing is OK. I took Nancy's course in 2001 and would like to take part in the discussion. Over the past several years I have redesigned two professional development workshops that I deliver face-to-face, and have wondered at what point the intent to redesign results in a "new" workshop.
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Wake up everyone! Our synchronous voice interaction with Nancy will begin soon!

by Jeffrey Keefer -
When I tried to enter the chat, it did not work at first. I had to remove an extra set of http:// at the front of the url in the browser.
In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

text chat issues

by Sylvia Currie -
Thanks for letting us know, Jeffrey. Can you point me to the link you clicked to access chat? (i.e. was it the "click to enter chat" link on this page http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/chat/view.php?id=499) + browser.

Plus Nick couldn't see the text entry box. Any feedback, screenshots, etc helpful so I can work on some of these issues...  scurrie@sfu.ca

Thanks for your help and feedback!
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Wake up everyone! Our synchronous voice interaction with Nancy will begin soon!

by E.A. Draffan -
Just back from being out and now I am saying "So sorry" - something has come up. I really am sad.. hope it can be recorded.  14.30 UK time not easy to avoid panics over work!! 
In reply to E.A. Draffan

Re: Wake up everyone! Our synchronous voice interaction with Nancy will begin soon!

by Sylvia Currie -
Yes, Nancy is recording the voice, and the text chat will be saved. Sorry you couldn't join us!
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Wake up everyone! Our synchronous voice interaction with Nancy will begin soon!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
It was very interesting - despite (or perhaps because of!) us being in two different voice rooms and the text chat ... Certainly a lot of "message passing" to enable all to contribute.

Well worth going to - thanks.
In reply to Nancy White

Re: What happens when things really do change? Rethinking the design of an online facilitation workshop

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Thinking about our wonderful conversation here and how to continue it, perhaps we can or may want to consider creating an ongoing discussin about this, perhaps here in SCoPE or elsewhere. I am sure that other people around the world are struggling with some of these issues, and I can't help but think that perhaps if a group forms (as it seems to possibly be forming now) to consider some best practices or standards, then it may be tested and tweaked as needed.

This would make a nice combination between research and practice.

In reply to Nancy White

Audio File from Call

by Nancy White -
In reply to Nancy White

Re: Audio File from Call

by Nick Noakes -
Nancy and I were both recording for backup. Not sure how this will compate to Nancy's as it was done from Skype rather than the conferencing service.

http://www.bestsharing.com/files/7iZcMx243336/Nancy_SCoPE_2007-03-15.mp3.html

or

In reply to Nick Noakes

Re: Audio File from Call

by E.A. Draffan -

Thank you so much for the audio files and I am downloading one now ... The best sharing file worked perfectly.

On another tack altogether - I am just wondering if anyone has experimented with Tiddlywikis in a learning situation? I am wondering how you would act as a facilitator with that sort of set up? http://www.tiddlywiki.com/

Apologies for late photo - thought once it was on one forum it would somehow migrate to another!!  My social networking skills are obviously seriously lacking!  smile

In reply to E.A. Draffan

Re: Audio File from Call

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I've not used Tiddlywiki - but I did get the students to do present their group research projects using a Wiki - however, I wasn't facilitating it at all - just marking it.

I did get a few moans, as they hadn't used Wikis before, and as they were used to creating Websites, they found that they wanted more control over the presentation. One reason that I'd got them to use a wiki this time (previous years had created websites) was that I wanted them to concentrate on the content, rather than the appearance.

From a marking point of view, they weren't amazingly better (nor worse) than previous years, so, the hope that I had didn't quite come off. I think that I'll still use them again next year. I was surprised that given that they are Computing Students, none of them had actually used a wiki to author, they'd only used Wikipedia. Maybe that will be different next year!
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Audio File from Call

by E.A. Draffan -
Hmm interesting - I have to admit I find Wikis such as those offered by Moodle etc very clunky and rather one sided - they also do not seem to allow for much flexibility in categorising items.  It is just layers, whereas Tiddlywikis offer a bit more choice.  However, developers keep adding so many fixes and add-ons that just as you learn one thing a new one appears with different templates and yet more options! Open source it all very exciting but you never seem to catch up!  mixed
In reply to Nancy White

Apologies - guilt

by Nick Noakes -
Sorry for my continued absence, my desktop at home is in the shop and my only connection is via an old laptop which needs rebooting every 30 mins (baring the few mins like this I can grab in my work lunch hour)!

I am trying to work on a summary though .... but if I anyone else can step in and relieve my guilt it would be really appreciated! :-)
In reply to Nick Noakes

Re: Apologies - guilt/ reflecting on our telephone interaction

by Sylvia Currie -
The number 1 rule here in SCoPE is never feel guilty! Don't worry Nick!

Yesterday I took a long stroll with my dog and listened to our telephone conversation. I find that's the best way to really listen. I realize how much I miss in the moment, especially when I was so preoccupied trying to figure out where the wrong phone numbers came from! blush Sorry for all the confusion! But what a fantastic opportunity to see our excellent facilitators Nancy and Nick coping so well under those difficult circumstances!

One BIG theme that emerged during our session was the many faces of online facilitation. I needed a pen and paper during my walk to track who said what, but some interesting contrasts were made.

conversation >>>> deep dialogue
high volume of information >>>> focused discussion
exchange information >>>> facilitate learning
multiple contexts  >>>> education context
loosen ring around groups  >>>> tighten ring around groups
mechanical facilitation >>>> deeper human interaction
rapid exchange >>>> slow down
basic >>>> developmental

It's interesting to think of these contrasting elements in the context of new technologies (I believe it was Derek who said "a new tool every fortnight"!) and new facilitation roles and skills. New tools are improving our ability to:
  1. capture and revisit our interactions,
  2. see information in new ways, from multiple perspectives, and
  3. visualize our work together as improvable objects (I believe it was Gordon Wells that introduced us to thinking of text as "improvable objects" in his work on dialogic inquiry)
  4. create together
This is all exciting stuff. But in the hurly burly of all the activity that is made possible by Web 2.0 tools and whatever else, it seems necessary to remind ourselves that we shouldn't forget the basics. Does this rethinking discussion sort of have that whoa! feeling about it? We need to rethink, but we can't forget the part about slowing down, focusing, deepening...