(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 7 Feb 2015.)
@RichMillington, author of the FeverBee blog and a community management expert, offered a free one week masterclass on community engagement from 7-10 May. The class was run in Lore (formerly Coursekit), a free online course platform/learning management system (LMS) geared at social learning, with daily webinars held in GoTo Webinar. Nearly 350 people signed up.
This is my reflective diary on participating in the course as a time shifted anti-social participant.
- reading (24 page PDF file) available on Lore
- webinar on converting newcomers to regulars – recording here
As the webinars are being held at 6pm CPH time (not ideal) I didn’t catch up with this one until Tuesday morning, when I largely listened while getting on with other things. The sole components were slides and a tiny question box, no talking head. The slides are not being made available, which is OK as I suspect most of them are in the PDF file.
First impressions are that the target group is those already running largish communities. I still need a definition of community in this context – versus a network say, but also versus a community of practice. It’s probably all on the FeverBee blog somewhere…found it! And, like buses, another one popped up handily this week to help clarify the issues.
Much stress was put on the use of data (buzzword of the year?) to back up community development. Which is great if you’ve got a community producing data, but can seem like making a lot out of a little sometimes. The softer stuff around interventions etc seemed pretty self evident.
So in the end a bit of a strange mix. But I did pick up on the notion of a community designed for lurkers – ie where members aim to fulfill their information rather than social needs.
Use of the Twitter hashtag #cmgr was recommended rather than the question facility in GoToWebinar, but as this is a general tag after several hours it’s not easy to pinpoint relevant tweets.
- open clinic, “an hour talking about online communities and answering any questions you might have”
The session was uploaded to Lore as an mp4 file, but an mp3 would have been fine as there were no visuals, not even a talking head – is that the norm with GoToWebinar? I sat down to listen/watch, but with one speaker and no visuals it’s not very engaging. Really really needed a transcript – there may well be some pearls in the mixed bag of questions, but as it is this knowledge is pretty much lost.
Three ways of participating available – via #cmgr, via the question box on GoToWebinar, and outside class via chat on Lore. The first two would have benefited from curation, while the third is apparently buggy.
- reading (35 page PDF file) available on Lore
- webinar on moderation – recording here
Sat in on around 30 minutes of the moderation webinar. Usual issues – felt faintly ridiculous waiting for the start, then slow to get going, difficult to twin screen on a netbook, teeny tiny window for questions (one way – couldn’t see what other people were contributing), couldn’t see who was logged in, chat over on Twitter.
Some polls were used this time to engage – good idea, especially with closed questions. My brain closed down when requested to define engagement in 30 seconds, but apparently 25 people gave it a go, either via Twitter or in the questions box (couldn’t see those ones).
One hour has to be the maximum in terms of concentration IMO. This session was stuffed with information and over-ran by 40 minutes, which must have been completely exhausting for all concerned!
I left Tweetchat running throughout the session and favourited the content heavy tweets. On Thursday morning I hurled these into Storify for a closer look – see Everything in moderation.
- webinar by guest speaker Elisabeth Joyce (recording not available due to technical problems)
- two articles (PDF files) by Elisabeth available on Lore
I was not able to attend the webinar, so no notes today!
The Lore platform
The people behind Lore chose the name as it means “knowledge shared between people”, and according to an article in Poynter its innovation is the stream, making it like “Facebook for academia”.
- the stream _is_ useful and it’s easy to post something, with a range of options including notes, questions or blogs
- individual items, for example in the calendar and stream, open in a separate window on the right, easy to miss
- don’t really get the browse options – probably need more content to be meaningful
- the various parts of the page are weird – some scroll and some don’t, and it’s not obvious which
- the resources section grew throughout the week and includes files, links and books in a long list – needs another look to be usable
It always takes a wee while to work out how a new platform fits together and it’s the first time I’ve used an LMS, but Lore certainly has potential.
What was striking throughout the week was how much information management is needed to ensure a class hangs together. The same issues come up as with event amplification, for example the need for curation to ensure the useful stuff is most visible, how to cater for people who aren’t able to attend an event live, or don’t have equal access to tools.
The class was offered as a taster for the full Pillar Summit and also as an opportunity to try out Lore (the course is currently offered using BuddyPress). As a free class there was a lot of content on offer, and there were a couple of indications that it was too dense – maybe not suited to the webinar format? Webinars and social learning are In, but you still need to put in the individual effort, for example to do justice to the reading files. Perhaps a flipped classroom model would be more successful in terms of generating interaction between the participants.
Webinars can be presented as a lecture, a seminar or in a flipped classroom scenario, with the last of these equating most to the aims of social learning. It is perhaps instructive to compare the GoToWebinar experience with a recording of a recent webinar held in Collaborate on digital literacy in the EU. A range of formats are offered so the time shifted participant can shape their own experience – on this occasion I fired up Collaborate to recreate the live experience as closely as possible, and the selection of material on offer, including synchronised chat, made for a more complete experience:
No doubt Rich is taking his own medicine – Feverbee posts during the week included How to optimise an online community platform, lots of tips there, and Identifying and articulating the benefit of the community, highlighting the dangers of content driven strategies. I’d like to thank him and his team for sharing their knowledge and also giving me the opportunity to try out the Lore platform.