Monday afternoon, we held an online Elluminate session with our Ontario PLP group with Will Richardson. For many of the participants, this was their first experience in this type of environment, so the session began with a tour of the features and controls which included screen layout options, audio (mic) testing, communication indicators (thumbs up/down, applause, I have a question, stepping away/I am back etc.) and chat window functions.
I was really impressed with the level of participation and the comfort level displayed by the meeting attendees throughout this first session. I wanted to share some further thoughts about a discussion point we have had within our Ning group and during this online session.
The discussion topic centred around the use of the term ‘lurker’. In the online community this term is generally accepted as way to refer to people who ‘look around’ and seemingly watch the activity. The points in question are, independent of the common use of the expression:
a) Is the use of this term appropriate? and
b) how does its use make you feel?
From my own point of view, I feel the use of this term has a negative connotation to it. While I am absolutely clear about the use of the term in this context, I would rather see a term used that presents a positive image. I see online participation occurring in three different categories:
- Role 1: People who participate by reading and observing, more of a quiet studier.
- Role 2: People that fall into this role are the connectors. They share information by forwarding emails, reposting blog articles, retweeting Twitter posts etc.
- Role 3: People in this 3rd role are the initiators or contributors. They author their own blog posts, share social bookmark lists, respond to other people’s blog posts and suggest resources for others to be aware of or review.
Depending on the learning experience, a person move progress through all of these roles with a particular tool as well as having an ‘overall role’ with their online experience.
I was particularly interested in the small group discussion that occurred within the structure of our session. Will gave us a list of 7 big shifts, divided us into groups of 6 and asked each to have a discussion based on which of the big shifts resonated with them. The discussion in my group revolved around 2 shifts -
a) synchronous to asynchronous (and back again) and
b) place/time dependent to anytime/anywhere/anyone learning
From my point of view, these are the two elements that are shaping our current learning opportunities and community development within the Ontario PLP group. Everyone is actively involved in reading and responding to posts in the discussion forums, blogging, connecting on Twitter etc. Each day provides an opportunity to embrace a steady trickle of learning and collaboration through the use of web 2.0 tools. In depth discussions are occurring, questions and new ideas are being posted, and new points of view are being explored. Factoring in our face to face kickoff, and the elluminate session, all of this activity falls into the 2 shifts or categories I identified. This opportunity is truly a synchronous/asynchronous anytime, anywhere, anyone learning journey.
This is certainly a fantastic opportunity and I am delighted to be part of the Ontario PLP leaders and learners team.