How to moderate the beginning and the end of a shared learning experience
Posted Juli 7, 2012on:
My personal involvement in this topic
At the moment I’m confronted with the beginning of a new learning experience – the Betreat of Etienne and Bev Wenger (an intensive training around social learning theory which will be carried out between 30. July and 3 August) – and with the end of the Change MOOC („the mother of all massive online courses“ where more than 2000 persons learned together online).
My perception of the opinion of Gilly Salmon, the Queen of e-moderation about beginning and closure of an online training
According to Gilly Salmon – Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities. The Key to Active Online Learning. London: Kogan Page Limited. – a course should start with a small „Welcome“ message and end with the Reflection of the whole course and the „Farewell“ messages. As I’m in these weeks again the moderator of Gilly’s original e-moderating course and „my“ participants are practicing „Welcome“ messages I sharpened my understanding of the first phase of a training. According to Gilly Salmon at the beginning the learners should arrive well in the virtual room, say „Hello“ to each other and start to socialize. Therefore „Welcome“ messages shouldn’t include too much informations concerning organizational aspects or too many tasks (f.e. upload a photo, write about oneself, read something, check the calendar, …).
In the last week of Gilly Salmon’s e-moderating course the participants are summing up what they have learned from different perspectives and work on a development plan. So the last tasks – the reflection of week 4 and the whole course and the farewell messages – are rather informal, quick and easy contributions.
The start message in the BEtreat
More or less a month before the start of the BEtreat I got a rather long e-mail with „a number of things to do in preparation for our start“ – it was so much that I immediately closed the message, to deal with it in future. Some days later in the evening at home I opened it again and tried to do it point by point – I enjoyed a very nice „Welcome“ video but then I didn’t succeed to enter the WIKI, I didn’t understand the time differences, and I was unable to cope with all the „what to bring“, and „what to check“ and „what to do“.
It was strange that I who are preparing virtual rooms for others, who support participants to get familiar with the virtual room, the tasks, the other learners, … got a strong feeling of helplessness, of being stupid. Ok, the next evening I tried again to access the room and do the work (having received an e-mail that the WIKI should now work for me). I succeeded to enter the WIKI which has 10 sections – and everywhere I should become active. I tried to get an overview and didn’t succeed with it – so I started to fulfill tasks, here and there. Until today I didn’t enter again, but I have the feeling I should return, look around, hopefully find what I have missed.
Thinking about my courses I believe that all „my“ participants would run away if I start with such a Welcome message. It seems to be in my nature that I want to serve my participants well. What I’m curios about is how many mails asking for help Etienne and Bev received or if really all participants of the BEtreat succeeded to deal with their complex „welcome“ message and WIKI without problems.
The non-existing farewell in the Change MOOC
When you click on the website of the Change MOOC you arrive at the website of Week 35 with Terry Anderson which since Friday 11. May 2012 hasn’t been changed. The facilitators Stephen, George and Dave didn’t close the MOOC, they didn’t write a final message maybe saying thank you to us learners (??), reflecting their experience as facilitators to carry out the Change MOOC, posting a link to the group who evaluated the Change MOOC and where probably some results are made public until now.
For me as moderator I’m missing something at this Website and I’m kind of sad that the Change MOOC wasn’t closed with respect.
It could be that the culture in the web is changing, that for new generations of learners „delicate“ Welcome messages are not necessary and that they move quickly to the next learning opportunity without waiting for closure messages. Maybe my approach is old-fashioned – but I’m convinced it is important how I start and finish a course and I will continue to say Hello and Goodbye.