Monday, August 4, 2008

boot on the other foot

The course has begun and I must say that to my surprise I'm feeling most overwhelmed. I'm assured it will get easier, and it's really just the overwhelming deluge of e-mails and assured writers that are making me break out it a cold sweat. It's a funny thing but it feels a bit like the boot is on the other foot - in my community I'm the nurturer,and almost never the lurker (although I do try to shut up and let the conversation unfurl on the list and in the discussion forum). I've found the pace of e-mails in this course so relentless that even i can't get a word in edgeways. (Those who know me would say this is near impossible!)
I've just read Shane's blog and he said:

"How do you facilitate a community to encourage participation by many, when open registration will result in a range of abilities and needs? There needs to be the chance for lurking if that is what the participant wishes, but the facilitator would no doubt want engaged interaction to enable learning. I know that in any group situation there will be members who dominate the conversation, how do we encourage the "shy" to contribute. As a teacher in face to face environments this is a little easier. You can "see" the people not engaging. Whereas online, are they lurking, or are they not there at all?"

It made me think about how I might now feel differently/cope with the people I THINK are lurking in my community and not contributing. I've got a fair idea how many people visit and look, thanks to Google analytics, but how do I know what they are getting out of their 'lurkage'? And as I have to account for my 'community success' to the Ministry - what constitutes community involvement??? Something to think about.

I'm also not coping well with where abouts to air some of my comments. If one person publishes something that I'd like to comment on, and then someone else says a similar thing on their blog - how do I make the connection between those two people (and I may be the only link between them). And if I like what someone else says (e.g Shane's comments above) do I reply here or on his blog???? Am about to go copy most of this to his blog so at least he knows I'm reading it.
Am obviously getting way too esoteric here, so off to watch some crappy TV.

Watch the font conference video in my vodpod - it's very funny and clever.

10 comments: said...

Deb, your title to this post is apt indeed. I've not facilitated an online community before but it is an intention of mine. I am a fan of open source, and interested in this type of open learning course. I feel your concern with the amount of reading that would result to attending email, wiki and the tasks we are set. I think each person needs to determine the level of interaction they can manage, and I reckon for some this will be lurking.

In regards to where do you respond, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "I may be the only link between them." By linking, we guide discovery. So I think commenting on a blog post is most appropriate.

Thanks for reading mine, and taking time to comment. I appreciate it.

Illya said...

Hi Deb
Looking through the blog posts, this one really caught my eye.
There has been an immense flow of conversation, and I too find myslef swimming in what to read and have had to develop strategies to deal with this.

One strategy is to choose 1 singular task. SO I either read and respond to the e-mails, go over the readings, write on my blog, or read other blogs and comment there.
Since I only just began this, I can't say how well it works, but I'm hoping to be able to better focus on the toic at hand. Perhaps this is some help to you.

I think the kind of communication that is going on or possible requires a change of headset. Up until now, we had a linear way of communicating when we couldn't see the other person f2f. But now perhaps you need to look at it as being on a campus where conversation takes place in many different rooms. If you want to make links or invite others to join in, then putting them on a place like your blog is probably a good place. Other tools like twitter I would consider to be more like chatting in the hallway.

Gosh, I'm chattering away again, but I hope that you can use something of what I've left here.
The other point is your question of lurkers. Maybe as a facilitator the best way to find out is to ask in private.

btw-the video is hilarious - open mailbox

vcautin said...

And as I have to account for my 'community success' to the Ministry...

Hi, I was about to leave and be one more lurker, but I decided to post a comment and ask: What does that phrase mean? Who or what is 'the Ministry'?

vcautin said...

Oh, I just read your older post and realized what the Mnistry is(BTW congrats on that promotion)
I might change the preferences in my Google Reader to read older posts first. :)

Marcel Bruyn said...

Hi Deb,
I am a latecomer and just starting to browse through the blogs. Like the others, your your post caught my eye since I also feel a little overwhelmed. This might have something to dow tih coming in late and trying to catch up with the discussions, and when I make a slight dent the conversation has moved on and new ones have started. And in wanting to post a comment I get a little confused to all that was said before (hard to digest in the rapid reading required in the limited time I can afford to assign to that task). So at the moment I am sort of lurking but don't want to be such, thus I am trying to find an avenue in.

Your post however, gives me the knowledge that I am not alone in this boat. This shared experience is uplifting and encouraging and an extremely important point in any community: that no member should feel alone. Identifying an effective means of monitoring this and adressing are important. I wonder, in the FOC case for example, if a post could be put up with a subject such as "Feel as if you have missed the boat" or some such title, which may invite lurkers, latecomers and simply overwhelmed persons to join the communication. What do you think?

My blog is at:, (not sure if this needs a html tag to make it link)

artie said...

The amount of reading is much and it can cause problems. I just have time to skim alot of what it said and therefore may respond with a very shallow perception of the things people are posting. I don't like that and I think that one thing that would really help is if more people came to their senses about how much is manageable. can I absorb the written communications of unlimited numbers of posters? I don't think so. In a traditional community, in large international communities, like Rotary International, for example, I would seldom have to deal with more than about 15 or 20 people every two weeeks. I think I want to redefine the term "Global Community". It doesn't work the way people are defining it. Not meaning to be a crabapple or anything:)

artie said...

"I'm also not coping well with where abouts to air some of my comments. If one person publishes something that I'd like to comment on, and then someone else says a similar thing on their blog - how do I make the connection between those two people (and I may be the only link between them)"

Leigh closed the last meeting by suggesting that people also form small 2 or 3 person groups for a mini-meeting about the course. So if anyone is interested, I would like to do that as I haven't been able to use elluminate and make the meetings (I listened to the posted audio afterward). And Gmail has recently added the new GroupChat function so many of us have a common platform. I'd like to try that. You can catch me over at my BLOB!

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