Friday, May 30, 2008

Having said that p 2 – Day 30

Tēnā koutou katoa

to you all

The Day 30 task is to analyse how you can use what you’ve learnt about commenting to change your teaching. In a previous post I summarised the differences between the environment of the blogosphere and that of the classroom.

There is a lot I have learnt by simply being a commenter. It has helped me to understand the environment that the commenter is in.

Useful reflection

In my first week in the Challenge, I reflected on what I had learnt as a commenter. The subsequent weeks have simply provided confirmation that my initial reflections need little adjustment to express more of what I now know about being a commenter. How I can use what I’ve learnt and apply it to my work in the ‘classroom’ is a matter for deep consideration.

My classroom

I teach about 200 distance learners - if they can be considered classmates. I don’t happen to have an online classroom at the moment, though I provide many of those students with elearning resources. So there is always the potential for them to participate online when that occasion arises.


Working with online learning communities has been a study of mine for a number of years, as has elearning. I have been possessed by the interesting fact that over 90% of all online students tend to be non-participants. By persuading a significant proportion of those to become participants, there is the potential to expand the sphere of online collaboration
many fold within a group. The Challenge has not helped me find techniques to do this.

Help for participants

What it has done, however, is to provide me with insight as to how I can help students once they become participating members of a group. Part of being a participant lies with the confidence that one has in feeling that what one offers is worthwhile. This comes with knowledge and experience of being a valued participant. I believe the similarity between a valued commenter in the blogosphere and a valued participant in an online learning group is very close in many ways.

The findings I’ve gathered in working with the Challenge will certainly help provide some leverage in assisting students with their participation and the techniques they may use to do this.

Ka kite anō
Catch ya later


Michele Martin said...

Ken, I think it's interesting that you felt that the Comment Challenge didn't provide you with techniques to turn online spectators into participants. As I recall, the challenge is what turned you into a participant by having you start your own blog. :-)

Is it possible that by providing students with challenge-type activities that you would give them an incentive to want to participate? My experience has been that when given an interesting/engaging task that requires online participation, a lot of people take up the challenge. So maybe a way to encourage participation from spectators is to try to find those online tasks that will draw them into wanting to create something.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Michele!

That the Challenge "turned (me) into a participant" is not strictly correct. I was already a participant as a commenter. It is true that the Challenge precipitated me into blogging, but that was already on my agenda - I needed a push and got one.

I reluctantly disagree with you, however, that "providing students with challenge-type activities" is all that's needed to "give them an incentive to want to participate".

As I said at the very beginning I am one to take up a challenge. I said that days before I even decided to participate in the Challenge, let alone become a blogger.

In fact, at that point in time I was particularly sceptical about some aspects of the project as I recall. I still am, though I have already admitted that it was a great opportunity not to be missed.

Heck, wouldn't it be great to have students who had the foresight and initiative of someone who has had a life-time of learning. That's what all teachers wish for. Students aren't all like that, unfortunately, and statistics show this very clearly.

But there is no more talk left in me for this line of argument, Michele.

Ka kite