The Unit 3 seminar, facilitated by Celia, Lesley, Mel and Gerry, ‘Team Sydney’ has now ended and we’ve been evaluating it this week. Having done ours first, I enjoyed being able to watch the efforts of others, and what I noticed in particular was that, in terms of forum moderation, the team definitely seemed to follow the ‘shared responsibility’ approach, as outlined in Ko, S. and Rossen, S. (2017) Teaching online and which I discussed in the last post about online team teaching. I noticed that the facilitators were quick to respond when a participant posted and also that they would respond to each other at times, to keep the conversations going and move a topic forward.
This was interesting to me because as a co-facilitator on a very large site, Moodle.org, this is an approach that wouldn’t really work. Although we read almost every post as it comes in, we deliberately wait to see if a Moodle community member will respond first, to give them a chance to help or comment. In a community of thousands, this is acceptable practice since there will always be someone ready to reply. In a much smaller group such as with our unit seminars, ‘hanging on’ might mean a longer wait and the person who posted might feel nobody was paying attention. I think in retrospect in our Unit 2 seminar, we should have been more proactive replying sooner, and that is partly my fault, using habits from a larger environment into a smaller one. Similarly with the facilitators joining in conversations -this works very well when we are a small group and especially since the teams themselves are diverse and with diverse experiences. However, again, it is something I would steer away from on Moodle.org since any posts from Helen and me would be similar in nature and the community is large enough that others will come and take the discussions forward.
I think it is essential to be aware of the size of your group as well as your learners’ level of commitment and confidence and to tailor your facilitating accordingly. (Palloff, 2013) tell us balance is the key:
Stay present. Let your students know you are there by commenting on their posts and asking individual questions for them to consider. But also avoid being intrusive or overbearing. Balance is the key to successful participation.
I felt Team Sydney got this balance right bearing in mind the number of participants. I look forward to the unit 4 seminar coming up soon.
Ko, S. and Rossen, S. (2017). Teaching online. 4th ed. New York, NY [u.a.]: Routledge.
Palloff, R. (2013). Lessons from the virtual classroom : the realities of online teaching. 1st ed.